Sunday, August 22, 2010

Post Fire Trip to Shell Ridge

Earlier in the summer we discovered Shell Ridge. Not really discovered, we have seen it off in a distance for years; but now the kids are old enough and Beth and I are healthy to explore it. It is a wonderful place to hike here in Walnut Creek.  We discovered on our first hike several ponds, including one pond with tons of polliwogs and baby frogs.  The kids loved the hike.

About two weeks after our first hike, there was a grass fire on the ridge.  The day of the fire, we took the kids safely to the trail head to watch the fire planes and helicopters put out the fire. The helicopters were taking water from the lakes at Heather Farms.  It was pretty impressive.  The kids got to see the news teams interview the fire chief also.
Ever since the fire, the kids have been worried about the frogs.  So we took another hike on the ridge.  Amazingly, even with the summer heat, the area is really rebounding.  The kids got to see that, while the fire burned over 100 acres, that one of their new favorite places was fine.

We found the pond that was previously home to the baby frogs empty.  That is of water.  The frogs were still there!!! There were two kinds, small toad like frogs and small tree frogs.  Most of the frogs were found in the cracks in the pond bed or under rocks.

I also found a huge wasp.  I mean this wasp was the size of my hand.  Come to find out this is a Tarantula Hawk.    You can imagine what they eat!  Click here for more info on what they are. This wasp looked like something out of some science-fiction movie.  In the next couple of months, the tarantulas come out on Mt. Diablo and I can just imagine seeing these things swarming around.  This is a link to  YouTube video of a tarantula hawk.

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