Yosemite National Park and Mono Basin: 4

Sunday was intended for driving and birding, but I did as much botanizing as I did birding, and that without a local field guide. I drove east over the mountains along the road to Tioga Pass, which was not cleared of snow and opened to traffic until June 18 this year. I used LoLo and Jim Westrich’s Birder’s Guide to Northern California and Jean Richmond’s Birding Northern California as guides.

lots of itflower and fruitAt Hodgdon Meadow (4,900 feet), I heard a few difficult flycatchers but saw few birds. At the campground, smoke was still evident in the air from a managed burn a couple weeks previous. I saw a lot of this lupine, perhaps Lupinus grayi.

yes, that's snowAt Olmstead Point, I couldn’t even scare up a Clark’s Nutcracker. Tenaya Lake is beautiful, but wasn’t birdy when I visited mid-day.

ahhAt Tuolumne Meadows, the bird that surprised me was Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia), working the banks of the river.

colonizer: 1colonizer: 2On a side trail from the meadow, I found this fuzzy congener of the lupine I saw at lower elevations. I believe this to be Lupinus breweri. It was doing a scrappy job of colonizing otherwise bare soil; pines were the only other veg in evidence.

A final stop at Dana Meadows (about 9,700 feet) yielded a distant look at a Cassin’s Finch (Carpodacus cassinii). I got a good look at the strong red crown contrasting with the rest of the head feathers.

I left the park at Tioga Pass, just shy of 10,000 feet, and dropped down into the Mono Basin via Lee Vining Canyon.