KG, PB and I scouted Monte Bello for our upcoming A Night Hike for Newbies. We left the parking lot around 6:40 p.m.
Yellow Mariposa Lilies lined the trail. Walking along the sag pond, Bellardia was a new find. Seep Spring Monkeyflower and a cress were surprisingly large. Lazuli Buntings sang. We headed uphill toward the gravel pit dinner spot. Another new plant for us, Jewelflower, graced the gravel pit. The Mariposa Lilies had not appeared there yet, but Owl’s Clover had.
It had taken us about an hour to get to the dinner spot. It wasn’t dark yet, so we decided to hike farther. A few Wild Turkey feathers were found on the trail. At the intersection, Golden Yarrow was in bloom. We decided to check out Indian Creek Trail. I had never been that way. We turned left, and gradually made our way uphill.
It was almost dark. Suddenly, we heard the call of Common Poorwill! KG spotted something that “fell” from a tree. There it was. But not for long, it flew a short way and landed again in the trail. It did this a couple of times, and flew into the trees. A few calls, and then silence (right when I was ready to record). We continued slowly up the hill.
In the distance, a Northern Pygmy Owl called. The poorwill had landed in the trail again. PB had brought his large flashlight, and the bird was lit up. I slowly sidled up closer, pretending not to look at it. I managed to get within about 15′ of it, and it continued to sit in the middle of the trail.
After good looks, we headed back down. Some Pacific Tree Frogs were croaking in the distance. A few crickets chirped. We began to hear Western Screech Owls calling. It was now dark enough to look in holes.
A few large black hairy spiders sat in holes about 5cm wide, in the trail bank. KG spotted a Slender Salamander, and my UV light showed a lone millipede.
Checking a perfectly round 6mm hole in the trail bank that we saw while it was still light, a creature sat in the entrance. It only stayed there for a couple of seconds, then backed in. Since we were supposed to be out by 10:30, I couldn’t stay long to wait for it to come to the entrance again. It seemed to have a body the color of the dirt, but black legs.
Small turrets held tiny turret spiders, their eyes glinting in the light.
We hiked up to the trailhead in the fog, arriving around 10:40. Cars with permits were still there, presumably at the backpack camp. Another great night hike!
See photos here: Monte Bello 05/09