Monte Bello OSP

KG, KP and I scouted for a night hike, starting around 4:20. A Bewick’s Wren buzzed from coyote brush near the gate, causing me to look up, and a coyote trotted out from behind the grass and continued up Page Mill Road.

Sunset was around 5:30, and we had hoped for Pacific Treefrogs at the small hidden pond.

Along the sag pond, we found quite a few black elfin saddle mushrooms, as well as some bird’s nest fungi, complete with “eggs”.

Birds nest fungi near the sag pond

Birds nest fungi near the sag pond

A few milkmaids were in bloom. An oak by the intersection near the old orchard had a few small pink galls.

Light in trees at 5:08

Light in trees at 5:08

We heard Great-horned Owl calling, and saw three deer on the way to our dinner spot (the gravelly/rocky area on Canyon Trail). Arriving at the pond around 6:30, we noticed that a lot of vegetation had been cleared at the pond since we were last there in 2007. We heard not a peep from any frogs. There were a few newts (and water striders), one couple in amplexus, but no visible or audible frogs. The waxing quarter moon was high overhead.

I wondered how low the water was, and a fallen limb showed about 15″ when I dipped it in the water at arm’s length. It used to be you couldn’t really access the water that easily since the pond was somewhat protected by the vegetation. Now there is hardly any at the perimeter.

On the way back up, we checked holes in the trail banks. We found three separate newts holed up (apparently they can see red, as they backed further into their holes), a light-colored tarantula, a millipede, a turret spider bunched up at the bottom of its turret, and several holes containing nibbled acorns.

We heard a few Western Screech Owls as well, one pair calling from Los Trancos. A few frogs called from the northern part of the sag pond. We got back to the lot around 8:30.