Earth Day and a birding trip to the Eastern Sierras

My newspaper column that is coming out in this Thursday’s Huntington Beach Independent is about the 40th anniversary of Earth Day (April 22) and our trip last weekend to the Eastern Sierras with a Sea and Sage Audubon group. Don’t worry, I tied those two topics together nicely with the theme of endangered species. Hope you’ll read my column online on Thursday. Meanwhile, here are more photos and some mini-videos from our trip.

Alabama Hills in foreground and the Sierras in the background as seen from Lone Pine, CA

Diaz Lake just south of Lone Pine was created in 1872 when an estimated 8.0 earthquake shifted the earth ten feet and dropped the valley floor. The former springs and wetlands were converted to a lake.

Pack horse fattening up on spring grass.


Female Yellow-headed Blackbird

Male Yellow-headed Blackbird

Eurasian Collared Doves, a non-native species to the US, are expanding their range throughout California.

Great-tailed Grackle male. This species is native to the US, but has expanded its range fairly recently to California.

California Ground Squirrel

Mt. Whitney historic fish hatchery

Male Western Fence Lizard

Acorn Woodpecker

We checked out this Scrub Jay to make sure it wasn't the newly identified Woodhouse subspecies of the Western Scrub Jay. It wasn't.

Stream at Glacier Lodge

Steller's Jay gathering nesting material

Pond at Glacier Lodge

Water Strider

We enjoyed a picnic at Glacier Lodge

Steller's Jay at Aspendel

California Vole running for his life across a road in Aspendel.

Gray-crowned Rosy Finch in Aspendel

Dawn at Crowley Lake

Male Greater Sage-grouse on their lek, displaying to a female.

Greater Sage-grouse copulating

Sagebrush, rabbitbrush and the Sierras

Golden Eagle

Winter ice on Crowley Lake had broken up just the week before we were there. Winds piled the ice high on the shore.

Teal taking flight from a stream.

Stream near Crowley Lake that feeds into Owens Creek.

Plants growing in the creek.

Convict Lake

We stopped on the drive home to catch this shot of the Western Mojave Desert in bloom.

Hope you enjoyed this photo tour of the Eastern Sierras. We got over 100 species of birds, including fantastic sightings of Greater Sage-grouse on their lek, Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, and nesting bank swallows.

My husband, Vic Leipzig, leads private birding trips for clients from all over the world. To learn more, visit his website at He’d love to take you birding.

(To read more of Lou Murray’s environmental writing, see her weekly column, Natural Perspectives, in the Huntington Beach Independent at )

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a retired medical researcher, retired professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I wrote a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent for many years. I also supervised environmental restoration projects and taught at the Orange County Conservation Corps before retiring in the summer of 2016. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks. I am also dedicated to combatting global climate change.
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5 Responses to Earth Day and a birding trip to the Eastern Sierras

  1. Michelle says:

    It looks like you had a fabulous outing. I’m not a big fan of Scrub Jays, but those Stellar’s Jays with their jaunty crests are fun to see. The Sage Grouse must have been interesting to watch.


  2. mac says:

    Thanks for the tour. I love bird watching, but I cannot identify them except few common ones, that’s another learning project for me.


  3. Sylvana says:

    OMG! Those are some really fantastic photos! My favorite is Dawn at Crowley Lake. Amazing! Some of those pictures look a lot like Iceland.

    The sage grouse are so neat. Definitely not your average bird.


  4. Angela Moll says:

    Wow, I’m jealous. I love, love, love the Eastern Sierra. Thanks for the beautiful photos and the reminder that I need to make time to go there soon.


    • Angela, Mac, Sylvana, and Michelle, thanks for stopping by. Yep, fabulous trip. One of my favorite places. Can’t get enough of the Eastern Sierras, but they are getting a foot of new snow with the storm yesterday, today and tomorrow.


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