Windy Hill OSP Request Hike

KP, PL and I did a request night hike for 14 people, starting around 6:30, to around 9:30. It was chilly even in the beginning. We paused to listen to the Black-headed Grosbeak that was singing. We stopped at Sausal Pond, to view and have a closeup look at the water fern (Azolla filiculoides) which covered the surface in red. We explained that it was a native plant and wasn’t harming the pond. There were no visible bullfrogs, but we mentioned them.

Water fern (Azolla filiculoides)

Water fern (Azolla filiculoides)

The old cattle chute provided a look at habitat for mosses and various lichen species, and we pointed out that it could also be home to tardigrades (water bears).

A little further along, Woodland Star were blooming. We continued on to the bridge, to listen. There were people beneath the bridge, talking. We heard an alarmed American Robin, really loud aircraft which turned out to be fighter jets, the water flowing over the rocks, and the wind in our ears. Bigleaf Maple had blooms, and the willows were starting fluff.

We stopped around 8:00 to space people out for a quiet walk. When we’d gotten down to a few left, we heard the trill of a Western Screech Owl. It called a few times. The end of the quiet walk was an open area of wide trail where we stopped for the participants’ planned dessert (shared with us). A few people asked about the stars. We were lucky that the sky was clear.

After an explanation of red light and night vision, we continued on. The moon wasn’t up yet, but we stopped briefly at the open meadow where the bench is. A large patch of Pogogyne was a little hard to find by flashlight, but we managed. Some small creature was moving around in the brush nearby. It was cold enough to see my breath.

From the woods not far from the pond, we heard many Pacific Tree Frogs chorusing.

4/10/09 Pacific Tree Frogs stopping and starting. Recorded with an Olympus LS-10.

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Millipede under white light

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Millipede under UV light

I was in the rear, so I had my UV light trained on the trail to see if anything would show up. I was quite surprised when something showed up. A millipede, glowing bright electric blue! I allowed it to crawl onto my gloved (cold) hand (these guys eat vegetable matter), and we hurried to show the group. KP went ahead to catch them, and I saw probably 10-12 between there and the trail back to the lot, even near the eucalyptus grove. The millipede under UV was spectacular, and in the bug box later, people could see it even better. On my hand, the millipede used its antennae in a rather endearing way, to check out its surroundings.

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Glowing fungus

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Millipede exoskeleton

The group continued back to the pond to listen to the chorusing frogs, and I took the millipede back to where I’d found it. On the way, I also found a fungus that glowed, and a hole with glowing pieces of something outside of it. After I returned the millipede I went back to the hole to check it out. Under white light, the pieces almost looked like vertebrae, but upon closer inspection, I determined that they were pieces of millipede exoskeleton. I looked into the hole, and got a brief look at some relatively large spider legs. I guess the spider had a meal of millipede, and tossed out the leftovers.

When I caught up, I found PL waiting for me; the group had decided they were too cold to hang around, and left. We talked for a bit in the lot, locked the gate, and took off for warmer places.

The rest of the photos are here: Windy Hill

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