This year was special: the 20th anniversary, and the very first night hikes allowed at Edgewood County Park and Natural Preserve. KG, JO and I led three of these night hikes. Read about them here. See the article “Nature at Night” for a summary of what we saw and heard. Additional details follow.
Here are other photos from our scouting and public hikes on 6/4, 6/28, 7/1, 7/8, 7/13, 7/19 and 8/7. We also scouted on 8/1, and 8/13 was another public hike. We obtained permission from the ranger to scout at night.
6/4 ss 8:26, no moon, 60F, 6:10-12:00, 4 GPS miles. KG, KH and I went up south Sylvan and reached the Serpentine Loop intersection at 8:15. We decided to go to the bench for dinner. That detour took about an hour. While we were there, a Barn Owl shrieked.
After dinner, we explored part of Ridgeview Loop. Aside from various beetles there, there wasn’t much activity. While heading back west, much ambient light contrasted with our usual night hike locales. We returned the way we had come, finding more in the woods (including ticks on two of us). Unexpectedly, a banana slug clung to dry substrate. Orb weavers had webs across the trail at head level, and one good-sized spider ended up on one of our hats.
We decided that we needed another scouting hike.
6/28 ss 8:34, no moon, 80F, 6:00-11:00, 3.4 GPS miles. This was the warmest night we had. KG, JO and I took the south Sylvan switchbacks this time. We heard the expected birds:
California Towhee Steller’s Jay
We stopped for dinner at 7:35, before we reached Serpentine Loop from the Service Road.
An hour later, we continued around to Edgewood. In the woods, we heard noise, and discovered a dusky-footed woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes) climbing in a lanky shrub. As we watched, we heard high-pitched squeaking low to the ground. After the woodrat disappeared, I listened further then heard drumming from the direction that we had come.
We still felt that we hadn’t yet determined the best route.
7/1 ss 8:34, no moon, 77F, 6:10-11:55, 3.1 GPS miles. JO and I returned to the south Sylvan trail. Along the way, a found a soldier beetle apparently eating a small spider. Birds were active:
We skipped the trip to the bench and had dinner at the intersection, from 8:25-9:10. The crickets started calling at 8:48. We wanted to wait until it was dark enough to continue. A test with our glowworm lure produced nothing.
In the woods, we found a penultimate (almost mature) male turret spider (Antrodiaetus riversi) out of its burrow. In all our night hikes, that was the first wandering male that we’d seen. This has been an unusual year in that way. Also along that stretch was a forest scorpion in the trail, and a river of Camponotus ants. I got another glimpse of a woodrat underneath a poison oak thicket. At 9:45, we heard a Barn Owl.
From Serpentine we turned on Franciscan. In the open at 10:30, a Western Screech-owl barked. We also saw a large owl silhouetted in flight. The many field crickets were a surprise.
We turned back on the Sylvan switchbacks. The lone pink glowworm (Microphotus angustus) that JO spotted hung on a poison oak leaf, her green light shining. We’ve seen multiple glowworms in our usual haunts, but usually in grass or dirt.
There were so many things to look at that it took us longer to go a shorter distance. This was the most productive route so far, but we needed another trip to nail down the timing.
7/8 ss 8:32, moonset 8:41, new moon, 62F, 7:00-11:45, 3.8 GPS miles. JO, KG, and I started later this time, about the time that we would be starting to walk on the public hike. We followed the same route as on 7/1, plus the bench detour. The intersection came early at 7:55, and we spent half an hour there before heading uphill. The detour took another half an hour. We planned to have dinner at sunset, so depending on when we reached the intersection on the public hike, we had two options. We continued on the route, and finished with time adjustments still needed.
Birds from this trip:
Cooper’s Hawk juveniles
“Nature at Night”, 7/13 ss 8:30, 26% moon transit at 5:20, 66F, 7:00-11:15. We had a large group, so only a few people got to see the woodrat that I first heard, then followed with flashlight. It carried a branch (there was a line in the duff behind it), but it dropped it to climb a tree.
Birds from this trip:
Cooper’s Hawk juvenile
Barn Owl juvenile
“Nature at Night” 7/19 ss 8:27, 87% moon, 61F, 7:00-11:10. Four deer, one fawn, browsed in the lawn area. On the first section of Sylvan, we flushed a small, dark, chick-like bird towards the houses. Two young deer greeted us at the end of the hike.
Birds from this trip:
8/1 ss 8:17, no moon, 7:15-10:35. KG, JO and I entered via the Clarkia trailhead, and took Clarkia to Live Oak to the bench. We had dinner, then watched the sky, from 8:15-9:45. On the return, we took Live Oak to Serpentine to Clarkia. We heard a Barn Owl, and saw a rabbit behind some trees off the Clarkia trail.
8/7 ss 8:10, moonset 8:24, 7:45-11:10. KG and I took the same route but skipped the short section of Serpentine, instead staying on Clarkia. We stayed at Inspiration Heights from 9:10-10:20. Through my birding scope, we observed Saturn, and Messier Objects M4, M20, M21, and M8. Noises from the shrubs behind the bench alerted us to two deer mice climbing around, sometimes chasing each other. On our way down, a deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) paused in the trail, only moving if we got too close.
“Summer Stargazing”, 8/13 ss 8:03, 43% moon, 7:25-11:00. We shared dessert and skywatched from 8:30-10:00 at the Heights. Participants viewed the celestial bodies that we’d found on 8/7, and KG pointed out constellations with a green laser, stopping use when aircraft were in the sky. Some people saw two meteors.