Evening Explorations

JO, KG and I had 10 participants (of 16) on our night hike on 8/27/10. We met at 6:00 and left the trailhead that we had caravaned to at 6:35.

I made it a point not to make any lengthy stops, so we could get up to the ridge on time. As it turned out, we got there at about 7:30, 15 minutes before sunset. As we emerged from the woods, fog creeping up onto the road greeted us.

It was chillier than we had anticipated, and apparently the only foggy, cold night of the summer. After our dinner, we left the bench around 8:00. It was still too light to look for night critters, but we wanted to get moving.

At 8:20, we got to the intersection. Some sharp-eyed participants spotted a large beetle on the road. This was another surprise–on our scouting trip, we had found an even larger one in the woods, the first I’d ever seen up here. This one, a different species, was a little smaller, but had attitude. The antennae were different, and the beetle “hissed” when picked up. The other one we’d found made some soft clicking sounds after a while.

California Root Borer (Prionus californicus)

After the usual discussion on night vision, we headed downhill. This time we did find more than one turret. Three were occupied, and one was a couple of inches tall, perhaps the largest I’ve seen. There was also one by the pond.

California Root Borer underside

There was another spider, perhaps wolf, hanging out in the trailbank, and we also found a large Jumping Bristletail, a couple of crickets, and a Banana Slug in a hole.  Farther down, sharp eyes found a couple different species of harvestmen, and a treefrog.

We reached the pond at around 9:20. We had permission from Jikoji to spend some time there. The water was black in the areas between the duckweed, reflecting the trees. A few bats flew into the flashlight beam, and a Western Pond Turtle swam by, underwater! We also found a couple of newts.

Participants appreciated the quiet, spaced-out walk. In the stinging nettle, there was a huge harvestman that evaded JO’s attempts to take its photo.

As we continued on after that, a female Great-horned Owl gave repeated squawks.

We had time to spend a few minutes observing Jupiter near the almost-full moon, before heading home.