I recently took some time off, and decided to explore the hills and trails in my area. One of the areas I visited was the Indian Tree open space preserve in Novato, California. There are so many popular hiking trails in the Northern Bay Area, the Indian Tree preserve is often overlooked by local hikers. However, people that have visited the area will tell you it’s a beautiful area to go hiking.
I found the Indian Tree preserve both beautiful and fascinating. Namely because as I walked from the trailhead to the end of the Big Trees trail, I went through several different forests, and each forest had its own characteristics. It was almost like I was hiking through a different park every time I went over a hill or down into a ravine. I crossed through forests of oaks, California bay, redwood (my favorite), and Madrone. Of course each forest had its own smells, and I couldn’t help but stop for a few minutes in each to take in the incredible aromas.
My hike was on a hot summer day, so I was very surprised to find some areas in the upper redwood forests to be soaked with water (not just moist, but soaked). I also noticed that when the wind blew, it rained as the water droplets fell from the redwood trees. Very cool!
The hike through the 5.5 mile loop is a moderate one, and the area isn’t crowded. If you’re interested in visiting the area, there’s a great article about it on the Bay Area Hiker website. There’s also a good map on the Marin County website.
Here’s a follow up on the spider that I wrote about on Halloween. Because she’s in plain view just outside our kitchen window, she’s basically become a pet (of sorts). The family checks up on her each evening, and because she seems to keep getting bigger and bigger, we’ve named her “Big Bertha.”
I had a hard time getting these photos. The first night I tried to get photos of her, I disturbed her when I tried to put two tripods near her. By the time I was ready to start taking photos, she was rolled up into a ball, and just wouldn’t cooperate with the shoot. I tried blowing gently on her to see if she would strike a pose for me. However instead of posing for the camera, she just bolted up into the bushes. I figured that was it for the night’s shoot, so I pulled my tripods and equipment out of the bushes and headed back to my office. Then about an hour later, she was back out on her web! I brought all of the equipment back outside to try again, and there she was, rolled up in a ball again! Another puff of gentle air, and poof—back to the bushes she went!
I really wanted to get some nice photos of Big Bertha, so the next day I setup my tripods during the day while she was still hiding in the bushes. Later that evening when she was back out on her web, I successfully connected my camera to one tripod, and my flash unit to the other tripod without disturbing her. The rest of the photo shoot went great—she barely budged the entire time. In fact, I almost got the feeling she was posing for me!
From what I can tell, Big Birtha is Spotted Orbweaver, aka. Neoscona crucifera. For those that are interested, I found some detailed information about this species on spiders.us.
The photos were captured using the following equipment: