Thursday, 15 August 2013

California - Sierra Nevada (Bodie and Mono Lake) 1 August 2013 (part 5)

Day Twelve
Bodie State Historic Park & Mono Lake

The plan was to visit historical Bodie then go to see the tuftas at Mono Lake. The focus was to switch from birds and do a little more of the general tourist attractions.

We arrived at the turn off to Bodie at about 8.30am and saw that visitors may not enter before 9am, but it seemed to be a distance along the road so we set off anyway. The road took us through a steep sided valley and as we drove through a flock of Pinyon Jay were spotted making their way from shrub to shrub. The landscape began to change gradually to Sage brush and our road, passing into the jurisdiction of a different department, became a dirt track for some time before another change of maintainer switched the surface to gravel. We approached Bodie and saw the remains of the once bustling gold mining town. The wealth and inhabitants may have gone now but they left behind a colourful history ( like the story of its founder Waterman S. Bodey who discovered gold in 1859but froze to death while bringing in winter supplies in the early days and the numerous 'bad men' and killings for which Bodie became known). The town was finally abandoned in the early 1930s after the gold ran out and a couple of substantial fires.

The red barn

 The view down Green Street

  Furniture has been left in most of the houses and businesses

The area turned out to be excellent for Sage brush species. We got a lot of what might be hoped for but Prarie Falcon, Sage Thrashr, Brewer's Sparrows and Sage Grouse gave really good views.

Sage Sparrow

Greater Sage Grouse

Bealdings Ground Squirrel

It's amazing to think that all the major cities of the US had their origins in wooden dwellings such as these, but some, like Bodie just didn't make it.

We stopped at Lee Vining (named for the founder Leroy Vining (who accidently shot himself at Aurora) and previously named Poverty Flats for the infertile soil) for coffee at 'Latte Da' and viewed Anna's and Rufous Hummingbird in the garden. One tenacious little individual defended a feeder all to itself and gave stunning flight and perched views.

Rufous Hummingbird

In the afternoon we went down to Mono lake south Tuffs, mineral formations left by under water hot springs. The lake is now reducing so most of the formations are out of the water. Mono Lake is also the primary nesting site for California Gulls.

Mono Lake and Tuffs

Mono craters

We got great views of Loggerhead Shrike, Bulwark's Oriole, Grey Flycatcher, Say's Phoebe and Wilson's Phalaropes. The main attraction for the birds were the millions of flies swarming along the lake shore.

Californian Gull

Green-tailed Towhee

Least Sandpiper

Sage Thrasher

Grey Flycatcher

Say's Phoebe 

Bullock's Oriole

Wilson's Phalarope

After dinner we tried for Common Poorwills on the lake road, but got poor views -just one caught on the road and another passing some 5ft off the ground in our headlamps.