New camera, new boots, giant salamander, banana slug porn: Purisima

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I found this beautiful little guy, with the bug eyes, on the window frame outside the back door.

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Sunday, 2 June 2013

It was to be a hot day again, so I went out fairly early, drove up the hill to  Purisima Redwoods open space preserve. I took no jacket, and it was foggy. Thought I might have a problem with chill and rain, but the parking lot was above the fog, and as I descended the west side of the ridge, the fog burned away before me. Cool all day, very nice.

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I am experimenting with the new camera. What can it do?

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I have to say, I’m not disappointed.

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I often hike Purisima as an add-on to a hike that comes up from the east side of the ridge, making it a killer hike. And as part of a killer hike, I don’t explore the side trails.

But today, with only Purisima on my plate, I decided to hike up Borden Hatch Mill trail and back down Grabtown Gulch trail, an add-on of 4 miles, 1000 feet of climb. That makes the total 15 miles, 3600 feet of climb. Too bad I also didn’t bring along any calories. By the time I got back to the parking lot, I was dragging a little.

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But I’m very glad I did the detour. I have been looking for a giant salamander for years, and have only ever found one before, incidentally, also here at Purisima. On today’s detour, what should I find but my second one ever! Cool!

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A millipede crossed directly under the salamander’s nose. I thought for a moment that the salamander might lunch on it, but they ignored each other completely. This could have been because the salamander was wary of me, or it could have been because millipedes taste horrible. I posted six seconds of rather poor video here.

There is a Giant Salamander trail at El Corte de Madera open space preserve, just a bit further along the ridge, but Corte Madera is mountain bike heaven, and Darwin probably doesn’t favor a strategy of freezing in place when a threat comes along.

As I topped out on the climb and started down Grabtown Gulch trail, I came upon a pair of banana slugs engaged in heavy making out. I watched them for quite a while, but they had more patience than I did, and they never consummated the relationship, not while I was watching.

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You need to understand two things about banana slugs: first, they are hermaphrodites; second, the genital opening (anal as well) is there toward the rear of the carapace. So chasing each other’s tails around in circles is just foreplay.

What I don’t know is whether they fertilize each other, or whether the eggs mature at different times, so that one of them plays the role of female in a given mating.

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What they do is stroke each other with their mouths, from the carapace along the side of the body, all the way back. I suppose this is immensely erotic for both parties.

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If their faces (such as they are)  accidentally come into contact, they pull in their horns and swerve away. No kissing.

Well, as I say, they had all day, and I fully sympathize with the joy of taking all the time in the world. But I didn’t have all the time in the world, so I eventually went on.

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Came upon another pair later on, curled up tight. Maybe this couple is consummating their relationship? No, don’t think so.

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At least the view into the genital pore shows something. Eggs, maybe?

I also shot a lot of video footage, which I may use if I ever see a pair actually concluding The Act.

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The fog had burned off to the coast, and while it was still chilly in the shade, it was warm in the sun. Still experimenting with the camera, I shot this butterfly from a distance of five or six feet.

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I had also stowed my Birkenstocks in my backpack, in case the new hiking boots were going to be recalcitrant, but they were okay.

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