Moon Over Picchetti

On 9/4, KG, JO and I had 10 participants at this new-for-night hikes preserve. Before the participants arrived, we saw a deer walk through the brush close to the lot. A tooting call came from the direction of the road–a Northern Pygmy Owl?

A chipmunk (probably Merriam’s Chipmunk) sat on the wooden fence in the lot. I hardly ever see them in the preserves.

We started out around 6:20. A lone peacock browsed on star thistle to the right.
While we were stopped at the bathrooms, we examined the live oak nearest the facilities. A black scale/mealybug insect with a skirt of white wax was on one of the leaves, and Pumpkin Galls and mite galls were on others. That was a new discovery.

Dinner was under the oaks on Vista Trail. A small wolf spider, snakefly larva, and tree cricket took their turns in bug boxes. We could hear gunshots coming from the road and gun club. The full moon rose as we finished dinner around 7:30.

Rising moon

Rising moon

It was starting to get dark as we arrived at the dry pond. With flashlights, we showed the Spined Turban Galls, Red Cone Galls, and Oak Apple Galls. We had seen a couple of plants there on our scouting hike, but we didn’t point them out because of the light. I identified them as Alkali Heliotrope (Heliotropium curassavicum) and cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium).

Entering the woodsy part of Zinfandel Trail, we walked quietly. At the bridge, we stopped to listen for owls. A strange call? came from uphill. It repeated 5-7 times slowly, paused, then repeated the set about four times. I only got one of them, unfortunately.

No Common Poorwill this time. But we found two small scorpions, about an inch long. We finally heard a Western Screech Owl downhill. Altogether we saw 5-6 scorpions, including one large one about 3 inches or so.

We stopped to view Jupiter’s moons, through a window in the trees to block the moonlight.

Stopping at the intersection at the pond to review what we’d seen, we talked about how scorpions do a mating dance. It was around 10:00 when we arrived back at the lot.


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