I want to starting keeping a more regular journal, even when I don't see anything in particular, so let this be a new start. Went to Briones last night. Got to the Bear Creek entrance around 6pm and soaked up the gorgeous evening light as I climbed the Briones Crest Trail. This is the hour and the season to appreciate our Mediterranean grasslands, when the hillsides shine fiery gold, contrasting wonderfully with the worn, deep green of the oaks and bays lining crevasses and dry stream beds. All the oaks were laden with acorns, which seems to have been the case last weekend in Las Trampas too. I wonder if this is a mast year, or if I've just never noticed them before.
Very little in the way of life, some acorn woodpeckers heard in the distance, a pulsing chorus of crickets among the trees when the sun set. There were owls aplenty though. I saw at least 4 individual Great-horned Owls, and heard at least 2 more. At one point I cam across an injured juvenile gopher snake, and was snapping pics when I heard a screech from a nearby tree. I saw the owl looking down at me, and wondered if I was photographing its dinner, so I departed. The snake was still alive, though nearly severed. Felt bad about not euthanizing it, but its cuteness got the better of me.
Weirdest part of the evening was seeing a little camper in the middle of nowhere, and a guy within talking on the phone within, looking like a bust in a small piece of amber. I wondered what the hell he was doing out there, but remembered the grazing goats I had seen earlier and figured he was the goatherd. Then I shone my headlamp around the camper and saw about 1000 pairs of glowing goat eyes looking right at me. Eerie.
Beautiful stars, with Jupiter still shining bright to the southeast. Dead raccoon on the road back, as well as a buck and a coyote. No snakes on the road, sadly. Need to find a time and place to night drive for herps...