Las Trampas is one of the few parks which is accessible early in the morning. We started our hike at about 7 am with high hopes for spotting wildlife. There was the faint hope of seeing a Puma (Mountain Lion) since they have been seen here. We decided to take the trail leading to Las Trampas Ridge. Along the way we saw some of the usual birds. One interesting sight was a dead tree with 2 Acorn Woodpeckers and 2 Nuttal’s Woodpeckers foraging very close to one another.
Being amongst the early ones on the trail, we saw many animal tracks on the patches with loose soil. We were able to pick out Deer, Coyote, Fox, Bobcat, Raccoon and some bird tracks. We also saw Gray Fox scat, indicating a diet of seed and berries.
As it got warmer we started seeing Western Fence Lizards. Our hopes were to see the Coast Horned Lizard, especially since we saw sandy soil and many ant colonies. Instead we were rewarded with another lizard species, its scales glistening in the morning sun. We got great views of a Western Skink, a new species for me!
Once we crested the ridge, we got great views of Mt. Diablo, Highway 680 and Walnut Creek. The view westwards was still a bit hazy. We noticed a stock pond, a bit off the trail and proceeded to check it out. Some cows came by to drink water but the pond life seemed to tolerate their presence.
There was bird activity near the water and we saw Lark Sparrow, Goldfinches, both Towhees and a Hermit Warbler. I managed to get two new species – a dragonfly – the Common Green Darner – and a damselfly – the Familiar Bluet. There were also some Variegated Meadowhawks.
After scanning the edges of the pond for a while we started noticing the Pacific Tree Frogs that were well hidden. There were some almost grown up tadpoles. We were puzzled by air bubbles rising up every once in a while. Then we noticed something coming up to the surface and disappearing again. It was a real treat when we were able to make out that they were California Newts.
The rest was all downhill, literally and figuratively. The long walk back, in the heat, was rather uneventful. We did notice a lot more activity from the Western Fence Lizards along the edge of the wide trail (a dirt road) including an abundance of small, baby lizards which should have been a lot warier of potential predators. And the quest for the Horned Lizard continues …