Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 16, 2018

Eastern Sierra Wildflowers

Highlights of what I have seen in the Eastern Sierra Nevada this past week.

7/10 Rock Creek Trail – Trail was very flowery but meadows were dryish. Shooting stars were mostly done and Red Heather was all past. Many species in bloom We saw a number of Mourning Cloaks in one of the meadows around willows.  Also seen were swallowtails, blues and a painted lady? White-crowned sparrows were often seen along the trail. Clark’s Nutcrackers were seen and heard. Parking lot can fill on weekends. Get there early.

7/12 McGee Creek Trail. Area was dry. Some flowers are past. We hiked the trail that was closer to the creek for the first time. It was somewhat more flowery than the parallel trails further from the creek. This was the first time we overcast clouds created good photo light. Right nest to the creek in a number of places was an abundant Arnica species.

Went to Smokey the Bear Flat  where there were about eight species in bloom. Lots of Mono Lake Lupine/Lupinus duranii . Evening Primrose was in bud or past. 

7/13 HIghway 120 East of Yosemite between Highway 395 and the eastern park entrance. A number of roadside stops that included Evening Primrose, Blazing Star and Prickly Poppy as well as wet seeps that included Monkeyflowers, White-rein Orchids, Great Polemonium, Paintbrush, Coyote Mint and more.  

Walking cross the dam at Ellery Lake we found many Columbines – mainly Sierra and Hybrids. We did find a few White Heather flowers though most were finished and only one group of four Red Heather flowers. 

The short Nunatuk nature trail. Most notable were the Dana Lupine/Lupinus danaus. At both Ellery and Nunatak there was spiraea in bloom. Labrador Tea at both places was mostly gone over.

On the way back we spotted a field with Corn Lilies in bloom next to the western part of Ellery Lake below the road. There were also Monkshood and a lot of Swamp Onions and Iris as well.

7/14/18 Bodie Hills, Two rabbits and lots of little chipmunks running across the road on Aurora Canyon Road. Most flowers were on Geiger Grade Road (Bodie Masonic Road on Google maps). Top flowers were White Lupine, Paintbrush, Rabbitbrush and Sulphur Buckwheat. Also one section had a lot of roses and there were several road side strips of purple lupine. Iris were all past. There were thousands of irises; it must be spectacular earlier in the spring. Lots of butterflies, especially Boisduval’s Blues and Great Basin Nymphs. The rabbitbrush was the main attraction for the butterflies, and other insects. Saw four Sooty Grouse, not far off, on a flowery hillside.

7/15/18 Mono Lake County Park Birding field trip with National Forest Ranger.  Best birds were a Lazuli Bunting, 5 Kestrels, and a Peregrine. Many California Gulls; at least 200.  No Phalaropes.  A total of 21 species were seen. Next to the board walk we saw Stream orchids and Green Rein Orchids.

Driving on 120 East of 395. After the Jefferey Pine forest we found the usual fields with many small pink monkey flowers. Also Mono Lake lupines, tiny buckwheats and a scattering of a yellow composite. Other good displays at the pass were very poor this year.

In mid afternoon smoke started coming in from the Ferguson Fire that is in the west side of Yosemite near Hite Cove in Mariposa County


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