It’s time to bust out the binoculars for the annual Lost Lake Christmas Bird Count.
Saturday’s event is hosted by the Fresno Audubon Society and part of the national organization’s 116th annual Christmas Bird Count that runs for three weeks from Dec. 13 to Jan. 9. It is the longest-running citizen science survey in the world, according to its website.
Birders of all skill levels are welcome to join Fresno’s birdwatching club, where participants will be split into groups and canvass a 15-mile radius that also includes Millerton Lake, Rank Island, Ball Ranch, portions of the McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve, Woodward Park, Dry Creek Reservoir, northern reaches of Fresno/Clovis and parts of Madera County.
The group will meet at the Lost Lake Park nature trail parking lot at 7 a.m. Checklists will be provided, on which numbers of individual birds and species are marked.
Most groups may be out for the entire day, but participants can join for only parts of the count.
Other Christmas bird counts nearby are Friday in Oakhurst, Sunday at Yosemite National Park, Dec. 28 in Los Banos, Dec. 30 at Merced National Wildlife Refuge, and on Jan. 2 at Lake Kaweah.
To join the Oakhurst event, confirm your participation with Vernon Johnson at 559-760-6327 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Joe Frank at (559) 683-5398 or email@example.com. The group will meet at 7 a.m at Burger King in Oakhurst.
Ski and snowboard basics – The REI Outdoor School is hosting a free Ski and Snowboard Tuning Basics course Dec. 29. The introductory class is from 6-7:30 p.m. and includes demonstrations on how to properly care for your gear heading into winter. Please do not bring your skis and/or boards. Register at rei.com/fresno.
Badger Pass – The ski area at Yosemite National Park announced Monday it will be open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
As part of the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, Badger Pass Ski Resort is offering free lift tickets to fourth-graders this season until Feb. 29. They also will receive a 25 percent discount for family members on rental equipment and lift tickets. To receive the free entrance pass, visit everykidinapark.gov, fill out the diary entry form and print out the certificate.
In addition, active U.S. military personnel and veterans also can receive a free lift ticket, equipment rental and group lesson. All that is required is a military ID or documentation. Immediate family will receive 50 percent off lift tickets, equipment rentals and group lessons.
Road closures – Seasonal road closures have been put in place at high elevations in Sequoia National Forest, including most U.S. Forest Service-administered roads on the Hume Lake and Western Divide Ranger Districts, the agency announced Wednesday.
On the Hume Lake Ranger District, Quail Flat and Big Meadow winter trailheads are accessed off the Generals Highway. Take a right turn past the Big Stump Entrance Station on Highway 180. There is parking, restrooms and trash services.
Big Meadow Road is open for tracked over-snow vehicles from the winter trailhead to Big Meadow Campground, Unit 5. Nearby Woodward Road (FS 14S18) and Rock Road (FS 14S14) are also open to tracked over-snow vehicles. The area south of Big Meadow Road, including the Jennie Lakes Wilderness, is open to foot traffic and snow-play.
Motorists are advised to carry chains, which are required beginning at about the 5,000-foot elevation on most roads during the winter, and at lower elevations during snow storms.