Nocturnal Discoveries

On Friday 6/4/10, PB, JO, KG and I had 12 participants, including two other docents, (of 16 on the reservation list) on a very warm evening hike. One person was not on the list but said he’d made a reservation. We had some who had previously been on our night hikes, and some new to district hikes.

The sky was clear with a few high clouds in the west. We started out at 6:30. The first sighting was many juvenile Western Fence Lizards, most in the section below the trailhead. We saw at least 13. Darkling beetles also made their appearances, probably around 20 for the night, including a mating pair. Some people saw yellow Mariposa Lilies in this area, and mallow and owl’s clover were still in bloom. There were also many red flying insects which we didn’t identify, and harvester ants. A deer browsed downhill from the trail.

Lazuli Buntings and Purple Finch sang near the walnut orchard, and on Canyon Trail, we saw two Southern Alligator Lizards both under a tree! We observed some sawfly galls on willow. Lots of ticks were visible on the trailside vegetation.

Southern Alligator Lizard (with 5 ticks!)

California Quail and two Brush Rabbits were seen. We arrived at the gravel pit around 7:45, and made a brief stop to look at the jewelflowers. We decided to go on to the intersection for dinner, stopping along the way to look at the Striped Coralroot.


At the intersection, a few Royal Larkspur, mallow, and Chinese Houses were still out. We didn’t find the Calisoga Spider that we’d found on our scouting trip, but one of the night’s 3-4 medium-sized, dark wolf spiders with round abdomens were found. A tiny, bright yellow spider showed up on my hiking stick. In the wood of one of the logs we looked under were two eyelash fungi. Unfortunately, swarms of annoying mosquitoes were out. A gopher who kept popping out of its hole entertained us, and a loud Black-headed Grosbeak sang above us, competing with our conversation.

After dinner, we killed some time before dark by going up the hill part way. Some bats were out, as was Venus. We stopped and listened for a few minutes. Western Screech-owl called in the distance.

California Forest Scorpion

When it was close to dark around 9:00, we headed downhill. We didn’t see any glowworms, unfortunately, but we did find probably 10 small scorpions during the night. These were probably California Common Scorpion (Paruroctonus silvestrii) and California Forest Scorpion (Uroctonus mordax).


We could hear Sierran Treefrogs calling from the seasonal pond, which still had a good amount of water. Some of the group saw two Polydesmida millipedes, and we found a large mygalomorph spider in a trailside hole, with a small spider just below the entrance of the hole.

Mygalomorph and friend?

Some also got views of a turret spider before it ducked down into its turret.


The night was warm enough for t-shirts (maybe mid-60’s or more). We stopped to view Scorpius after emerging from the walnut grove, then headed back to the lot. A bit of fog crept in from the south, and obscured the stars by the time we left the lot.

See more from our scouting trip.

Related posts:
A Night Hike for Newbies


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