Sunset Stroll at Rancho Cañada del Oro

Having heard about night hikes starting up in OSA terrritory by a “double agent”, I made the 75-minute drive down to south Santa Clara County on 8/25/12.  The temperature was comfortable, but I decided to change to a short-sleeve shirt.

After an introduction, we started up the Mayfair Trail at 5:50. We made several stops on the way up. A few California Fuschia bloomed. Uphill, the trail had switchbacks, then came into open grassland for a while.

We stopped at the top of grassland before going through the gate. While PB was talking, I noticed a silked-over hole ringed with earth by the side of the trail. I pointed it out when he was done, and we noted the area to find it after dark.

Arriving at the top around 7:40, most of the participants decided to return with a docent. The rest of us had dinner at the picnic table. After we had finished, a helicopter circled around several times, shining a light down. We left the top around 8:20. It had cooled a bit.

On the way down, we stopped at a big tree in order for one of the participants to take a night photograph. We were near the spider hole, so I went to find it. The silk was gone, and the burrow appeared shallow, as a female tarantula sat face out. I noticed some movement and thought maybe it was an ant. But then a small spider crawled up near the opening,band I saw more. Baby tarantulas! They were old enough to have hairs.

Baby tarantulas next to mom’s foot!

After watching them for a while, we continued down, searching for scorpions and turret spiders. We found several spider burrows and one scorpion. An empty spider egg sac resembling Castianeira’s, a disk with a wide collar, fluoresced under UV. In the open areas, the moon peeked out from behind clouds.

We returned at 10:20.

Here are more photos.