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Old Sep 7, 2009, 9:45 PM   #1
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Default Tufa and Alkali Flies

We stopped off at Mono Lake on our recent trip. It's an interesting place to visit, known for it's tufa columns, which are odd-shaped rock shapes. Tufa is created when spring water bubbles up in Mono Lake, a lake that has no outlet. The only way water leaves the lake is by evaporation so it's salty. The minerals in the two types of water combine to make these columns. As the water level has lowered over the years (streams that feed the lake have been diverted to give Los Angeles water) the columns were exposed.

After looking at some of them for a while, I started to think that they resembled animals.

Is it only me, or does this sort-of resemble a koala bear?

As a salty lake, things are more buoyant than normal. Sea gulls have a bit of a problem paddling around because they float higher.

The lake is important for migrating birds, who love the brine shrimp (the species is unique to Mono Lake) and alkali flies. I have no idea what type of bird this is - it rather blends in with it's surroundings:

The black surrounding isn't rock or sand, it's alkali flies:

The birds seem to love them.

Our next stop will be in a different thread (I just haven't had much time to go through all of the pictures I took at the various spots we visited).
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Old Sep 7, 2009, 11:28 PM   #2
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No, it's not just you, at first when looked at it without reading I thought of a baby, but after reading, it does look like a Koala.
The birds will certainly not go hungry.
Terrific shots of amazing Nature.


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Old Sep 8, 2009, 5:49 AM   #3
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An interesting sounding spot! Nice detail in the tufa columns. Also, good exposures with all that dark subject matter!
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Old Sep 8, 2009, 6:15 AM   #4
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Harriet - thanks for sharing these great views of some amazing parts of creation! The tufa formations sure do look like "critters" - and you did a great job capturing these tough subjects. I especially like the hordes of flies! (And that puzzled look on the gull's face goes so well with your description of their difficulties!)
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Old Sep 8, 2009, 8:49 AM   #5
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You have a great eye and captured these nicely. I, too, have passed these many times but this is the first time I've seen them like this.

Last edited by cameanee; Sep 8, 2009 at 8:52 AM.
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Old Sep 8, 2009, 9:47 AM   #6
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Thanks for the compliments - it's another interesting, but somewhat off the beaten track spot to visit. It's locally famous because many people banded together in a "save Mono Lake" campaign that involved a lawsuit to try to stop so much water being diverted from the streams feeding Mono Lake. It had a lot of local publicity while it was going on (and it went on for years). They finally settled and have come to an agreement on how high the lake should be (it's not managed to get there yet).

cameanee - I've found that having a camera has totally changed the way I look at things around me. It's fun to take the time to spot the unusual in the usual. How many people drive from L.A. to Lake Tahoe or Reno on Hwy 395 without looking at what's around them? We only spent 3 days wandering around the area and I want to go back - there's still more to see. I've found that thinking about camera angles, line of sight, aperture/shutter speed combinations, along with what would capture the feel of a place and make an interesting picture, goes a long way to making a trip more enjoyable. It's partly because I also spend the extra time to find out what it is that I'm looking at and why it might be important. I'm not always successful - I was actually a little disappointed with the Mono Lake pictures. They are OK, but not as good as they could probably be (we were there in the later afternoon, after several hours of wandering around somewhere else and were all tired. I didn't feel as inspired as I should have been when visiting such a photogenic spot).
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Old Sep 8, 2009, 12:39 PM   #7
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Well well, You sure can bring back old memories Harriet!
its been over 40 years since I last laid eyes on Mono Lake and it does look a wee bit different. About 25 years ago I lived south west Yosemite Nat. Park near the intersection of Hwy 132 & 49.
Great shots!

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Old Sep 8, 2009, 7:14 PM   #8
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Harriet great shots . I wanted to go and visit Mono Lake the day we did the Tioga Road drive to Tuolumne Meadow. Were to tired to continue further that day. I'm sorry now that we didn't push forward and visit. Had I seen your pictures first I would have been inspired to go.

Nice job Harriet!

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Old Sep 8, 2009, 7:57 PM   #9
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All the years I lived there and never visited. Look what I missed! And, I do remember the Mono Lake controversy in the papers.

Nice images. And, yes the formations do look like animals. I was thinking what they looked like before even seeing your comment. They are like clouds.

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Old Sep 8, 2009, 9:05 PM   #10
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GW - glad to take you down memory lane. The only thing is that I didn't think there was much near that intersection - you must have lived out in the sticks.

Lou - While I really enjoy Mono Lake and it's worth visiting, it's not so jaw dropping as Yosemite and the Tioga Road. It's one of those places where you go and look closely at things, not look at the grand views.

Patty - I'm not completely surprised, the Eastern Sierras isn't exactly a tourist spot for most people. It's fun because it's not so crowded as some other places in California.
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