Monte Bello OSP

CB and I scouted for our night hike on 1/31, and left the misty trailhead at 5:01 and arrived at the gate at 5:19, meeting CR and LP. There was low fog, which seemed to get more dense near the pond. It had rained overnight and up until around 2:00, after a couple weeks of warm weather then a couple of colder days. There was wind chill on the ridge. The temperature was around 45-50F, warmest near the water, which didn’t reach as high as I’d seen it last year. The “outlet” was dry.

Sunset was at 5:30, but it was too foggy and cloudy to see it. It was dusk by the time we reached the pond, and with the fog, it was difficult to see very far.

The fog

Mostly female newts walked the trail, some gravid. Two of them were one-eyed for some reason. We saw around 12 newts and 1-2 treefrogs on land. We briefly checked out the water, then went to the east side and back around to the south, relative to the road. We heard a Mallard, Dark-eyed Juncos, and an American Coot, and the treefrogs first started up around 6:00. They called intermittently while we were there. One Red-legged Frog called briefly.

Newt ball

We watched the light-colored male newts, watery ghosts patrolling for females and couples to barge in on. There were a couple of newt balls, but we couldn’t detect any eggs yet. The male newts have black fingertips in breeding form, nuptial pads used to grip the female during amplexus. The females are darker in comparison, at this time.

Around 7:10 or so, we headed up and left the gate at 7:24. CB and I turned toward the lot, and were surprised by around 25 Polydesmid millipedes along the way. Last year, KG and I saw one. I heard the screech of a Barn Owl as well. The mud wasn’t bad, but it was a little slippery.

Back at the lot, it was hard to see the car in the fog, with the flashlight beam bouncing back. We got to the car at 7:59.

Polydesmid millipede

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