Nature at Night

The fog

To follow up on our scouting hike on 8/24, we had a group of 20 participants on 8/31’s actual hike. A portion of Skyline Road was clear as I drove to our meeting spot, but as we pulled into the Monte Bello lot, we found fog obscuring most of the view. It was unseasonably cold, necessitating another couple of layers.

We made a couple of stops on the way to the sag pond. As we approached, we heard a Virginia Rail. Continuing past Bella Vista, a few deer crossed the trail in front of us.

It was after official sunset as we neared our dinner spot, but light enough to see a dark spot in the middle of the trail. From the other side, PB called out “poorwill”. We watched it from the opposite side. Trying not to disturb it too much, we made a wide berth as we walked slowly around it to get to the other side. It flew up and passed us within a few feet, then returned to its spot. We heard it vocalize the soft chirpy-squeaky calls that it gave on our scouting hike.

After dinner, we proceeded back to the intersection and into the woods. Since it was relatively cold, it was unlikely that we’d find many scorpions. The turret spiders perched in their burrows. We found millipede remains, and one scorpion in a crevice.

In the open grassland, most of the group heard a Western Screech-owl call, but some of us below the ridge did not.

The moon was not visible directly because of the overcast and fog, but the sky was light.

Here is a Common Poorwill that we saw in a different spot back in 2009. And, for more feather detail, see this photo of a dead poorwill, taken at Mt. Diablo (available full-size). For more on poorwills, see the Cornell Lab life history page.