I helped GH on his night hike up to Black Mountain on 8/10/14, along with HS. We scouted the route on 8/7, taking close to 4.5 hours. It’s more difficult to manage the time in the summer, since sunset is so late. We managed to cut the time down to 4 hours for the public hike.
It was a bit warmer on Thursday, 77-71F, and 72-66F on Sunday. I hadn’t noticed this before, but on both nights, the temperature at 9:00 was lower than at the end, according to the standard weather station I use. We observed more critters on Thursday, but that may have been due in part to having only three of us.
Separately, two young coyotes crossed through the lot.
We came across the torn-apart carcass of a western fence lizard being picked at by yellowjackets. On both evenings, we crossed paths with a velvet ant (which is actually a female wasp–females are wingless).
There were three spider burrows in/close to the trail. Some burrows are decorated with dried vegetation; there is often a subtle, arranged look to them. One of the burrows had been housecleaned, and there was an empty egg sac nearby. The other two were veiled during the day.
The clouds to the north looked like distant mountains. We reached the top shortly before sunset. An unusual crescent-shaped opening in an apparent cloud layer close to the horizon framed the setting sun. I don’t know if there’s a name for that, but I couldn’t find one. Perhaps it was an optical illusion.
On Sunday, the moon rose minutes before sunset, and disappeared for a short time into the clouds. The group enjoyed the celestial sights as we ate our dinners, while several deer browsed on the hill below.
The harvester ants were active after sunset. On both nights, we came across a Scolopendra centipede, which fluoresced lightly under UV. There were many large camel crickets and darkling beetles on Thursday, as well as a green katydid in the trail. Coyotes serenaded.
When we arrived at the spider burrow with the egg sac, we spotted a female Calisoga just outside the entrance, but she soon ducked back in. I kneeled to take a closer look, then noticed movement around the upper parts of the burrow. There were spiderlings milling around! The few that had ventured outside quickly went in, but I managed to catch two in a photo. We’ve seen smaller babies in the past, assuming they were Calisoga. I’m guessing these were around 7mm. On Sunday, the mother and most of the spiderlings were down in the burrow.
Thursday’s birds: red-shouldered hawk, western scrub-jay, dark-eyed junco, northern flicker, red tailed hawk, California quail. Sunday’s birds: spotted towhee, band-tailed pigeon, turkey vulture, wrentit, northern harrier, and the jay, red tail, and quail.
More photos are here.
For more “baby pictures”, see tarantulas here.
Most recently, I’ve been using R.J. Adams’ Field Guide to the Spiders of California and the Pacific Coast States.
8/15/14: I’m not sure what happened to the panorama when I posted this a few days ago, but I added it back. If you know if there’s a name for this phenomenon, let me know.