Quiet Owls

Well, I’m way behind and trying to catch up…

I wanted to visit Monte Bello to see if we could refind the Long-eared Owl that we had heard on a night hike last year. It was earlier in the year (2/5 versus 3/10/12), but time, unlike the owls, had flown by. Six of us were able to go.

The evening was foggy. We walked the usual route and had dinner at the “gravel pit”, starting out at 6:00.

There were a few mushrooms, coral fungi, popcorn flower, a tick, 9+ deer, Band-tailed Pigeon and Wild Turkey. The sag pond at the nature trail intersection barely had any water; the area around it was soggy.

Near the gravel pit, three newts rambled into three separate holes in a row in the side of some raised dirt near the trail. We saw around ten newts altogether.

We heard distant Northern Pygmy Owl, and some Western Screech-owl calls, but no other owls.

Surprisingly, we saw a bat. Not surprisingly, the fluorescent millipedes (probably Xystocheir dissecta in the order Polydesmida), were out. Other finds were turret spiders, harvestmen, some small beetles, tiger beetle larvae (Omus), California Slender Salamander, Arboreal Salamander, and distant treefrogs called. We found some different fluorescent lichens.

The highlight, for me, was when we reached the old walnut grove. A Western Banded Glowworm (Zarhipis integripennis) larva or larviform female, was in the middle of the trail! Unfortunately, it wasn’t glowing.

Western Banded Glowworm (Zarhipis integripennis)

This was the first one of this family that I’ve seen on MROSD preserves. Here is a paper on their natural history. Page 244 says actively hunting larvae don’t glow. In the excitement of the moment, we (I) forgot to look for compound eyes or genitalia, which would distinguish the female from a larva.

We got back at 10:00.