JO and I took a group of ten on a request night hike on 9/11/10. Some had not been on a night hike before. We met at Skyline Ridge and caravaned to the trailhead. We left the trailhead around 6:28, with sunset around 7:22, so I didn’t stop much while hiking up to the ridge. We did stop briefly when we flushed a covey of quail on the was in, and at the everlasting pea and money plant.
There was a dead vole shortly after the trail split leading up to the “open area”.
We arrived at the bench at 7:18. The temperature was mild (my small thermometer that was in the outside pocket of my pack said 70F), and the sky was clear. The only fog was a blanket lying over the ocean, as usual. The orange sun blazed through the conifers to the west. A couple of bats flew by after dinner.
The crescent moon and Venus were close together. After a bit of early stargazing, we headed down the road. I found our first scorpion of the night, a California Common Scorpion, and waited until everyone had caught up to put the UV light on it. No one had seen a scorpion fluoresce before, so there were lots of exclamations when they saw it. We continued to see several more on this stretch, some of which were on the road.
A few more bats flew over us after dark. Since Scorpius and Sagittarius were visible, we took the opportunity to point them out along with the Milky Way. As I pointed to the “teapot”, an orange meteor streaked through!
Near the next intersection, there was a tan-colored beetle about an inch long, with long antennae that was on one of the participants.
We found the turrets on the trailbank without too much trouble. A few of them were occupied, but the spiders ducked down after some people had gotten a look. Farther down, there was a tiny one with a tiny spider in it. And farther still, there were two scorpions about a foot apart. One was smaller and had smaller hands. At first, I thought it was a different species, but after examining the photo later, they both look like California Forest Scorpion.
The air got cool as we approached the pond around 9:30. Again, we had received permission to look for critters, but the bats were not cooperative there. I saw one newt underwater. The duckweed seems to have broken up over the summer; instead of one big blanket, it was a few larger round patches and more small ones.
Some of the participants agreed to try the silent walk, with some hanging back to walk together. The ones who did try it silently appreciated the experience.
As we neared the intersection to turn back to the trailhead, we heard the owl cry again. First, just one. Then another, and a few more. It moved farther away, and then returned. In hindsight, I suppose it could have been a juvenile, but I’ll have to compare the sonograms to a known recording.
Everyone liked being able to see things they hadn’t seen before.