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.