Diablo Foothills Regional Park

I thought I'd check out somewhere new this weekend, and I had a hankerin' for some greenery, so I headed east to Diablo Foothills Regional Park, a fine little park right next to Mt. Diablo with lovely oak savanna, rolling green hills, and some cool rock formations.

The Livorna trail head is in a somewhat distasteful suburban development (absurdly large homes, insane pools, gates, etc.), but you quickly leave that behind for the beautiful rolling green hills. Flowers were just starting to get rolling with mustard and fiddleneck blooming in profusion. Some of the oaky areas were fairly birdy. Didn't see a Red-breasted Sapsucker, which is one of my favorite birds in that kind of habitat, but saw plenty of other regulars. Possibly the weirdest sighting of the day was what appeared to be a CA Red-legged frog in amplexus with a bullfrog in a small cattail-filled pond (which was also full of singing Pacific Chorus Frogs). Odd.

Tons and tons of ground squirrels all over the place. Saw three coyotes loping across the n, and though I heard a bunch of alarm calls from the ground squirrels, but I'm not 100% sure it was them.

Buckeye Ravine, which leads down to the base of Castle Rock, was a great, fern-lined little spot, chock full of the eponymous buckeyes and some oaks (and plenty of poison oak, ugh). Saw a bunch of turret spider turrets there, adding to my growing collection of turret observations.

Castle Rock was a beautiful sight, but I didn't ascend due to the presence of noisy peace-spoiling hooligans atop, and the fact that I missed the small trail to the top. Maybe next time.

Overall, there weren't a lot of opportunities to search under cover, but I did manage to find a nice little rock field that yielded an absolutely stunning Calisoga longitarsis, a less-hairy, somewhat smaller relative of the tarantulas that lives around here. This one was the first female I've ever found, so I was quite pleased. She, however, was not.

I think the portion of the Briones-Diablo road that lead back to the trail head would be a remarkable spot for some sunset landscape shots. Lots of west-facing dinosaur-spine rocky outcrops to catch the light. One more reason for a return trip.

Posted by kueda kueda, February 23, 2009 07:39 AM

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

False Tarantula (Calisoga longitarsis)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 04:34 PM PST

Description

This was the first female Calisoga I've found, so I was pretty pleased. She was under a large rock at the edge of some oak savanna (much like most of the Calisogas I find). She seemed a little antsy and the rock was kind of heavy so I scooped her into the end of my telephoto, inside the lens hood. Made for a decent little studio, but now you can all see how poorly I maintain my lenses (might explain some of my blurrier bird shots).

Photos / Sounds

What

California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 03:07 PM PST

Description

There were so many ground squirrels, and yet I saw only one raptor (a Red-tailed). Get busy, you lazy predators.

Photos / Sounds

What

California Buttercup (Ranunculus californicus)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 02:53 PM PST

Description

I was all set to call this a California buttercup (Ranunculus californicus) but then I tried keying it out and apparently the Western buttercup (R. occidentalis) is another option. Stupid flowers with their variable number of petals...

Photos / Sounds

What

Rancher's Fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 02:14 PM PST

Description

Fiddlenecks are back. I brought the key with me this time, and I think this is probably Common Fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia), but it was sort of hard to tell if the petals were "slightly 2 lipped."

Photos / Sounds

What

Oak-loving Elfin Saddle (Helvella dryophila)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 01:57 PM PST

Description

First find of the day was a nice little batch of black fluted elfin sadle under some oak, right next to the houses. I spent some time trying to record a video of them "smoking," but all it amounted to was a few videos of me flicking mushrooms with increasing intensity and frustration.

Photos / Sounds

What

Coyote (Canis latrans)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 03:14 PM PST

Description

Why won't they stay still. And come closer. Interestingly, as they were passing, I heard this big chorus of squeaks, but I couldn't quite spot the squeakers. Could it have been the ground squirrels giving alert calls from their burrows? Do they do that?

Photos / Sounds

What

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 02:02 PM PST

Description

You know, I grew up with flickers and I never remember them being particularly cagey, but trying to photograph this bird was nearly impossible. I just couldn't get close.

Photos / Sounds

What

California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 02:01 PM PST

Photos / Sounds

What

Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 02:00 PM PST

Photos / Sounds

What

Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 02:36 PM PST

Description

Western Bluebirds don't like cameras.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 05:14 PM PST

Photos / Sounds

What

Foldingdoor Spiders (Family Antrodiaetidae)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 03:38 PM PST

Description

Lots of turrets along the Buckeye Ravine trail. Once again tried the grass tickling, once again failed.

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 02:41 PM PST

Photos / Sounds

What

California Red-legged Frog (Rana draytonii)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 2009

Description

I am failry sure this is a male CA Red-legged Frog (Rana draytonii) in aplexus with a female bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana). Maybe not quite as cool as cross-order confusion, but still odd. I wonder if there are conservation implications for the red-legged, which is threatened by habitat destruction in some parts of the state. Would there be any noticeable impact of males wasting their time on females of another species?

Photos / Sounds

What

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 02:07 PM PST

Photos / Sounds

What

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 02:07 PM PST

Photos / Sounds

What

Nuttall's Woodpecker (Dryobates nuttallii)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 02:03 PM PST

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009 02:00 PM PST

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Ánade Real (Anas platyrhynchos)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Observer

kueda

Date

February 21, 2009

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