Nature in Santa Clarita; it’s not what you look at but what you see.
The other day my husband and I were walking along the paseo at twilight and saw a group of boys “hanging out”. “Hanging out” is a time-honored summertime activity, unstructured yet creative and occasionally even mischievous. As a child, I remember taking note of how the light was growing dim and knowing that it would soon be time to go home, clean up and get ready for bed. But we always waited until we were called, hoping to wheedle a few more minutes of play out of the day.
After reminiscing for a few minutes, I got curious. How do we know when it’s time go inside? (One of the best parts of being a naturalist is that I get to ask simple questions like that.) It turns out that the answer is different for different animals.
In primates (including humans), the retina contains photosensitive ganglion nerve cells that help regulate our circadian rhythm, our body’s sleeping and waking cycle. When the light intensity changes, these nerve cells send a message directly into the hypothalamus, which contains the circadian pacemaker in our brain.
For bee’s it a different story. Besides the two compound eyes that we normally observe, bees also have three simple eyes called ocelli, which are located near the top and front of their heads. These ocelli measure the intensity, duration and direction of light. At dusk, this is what tells the bee it’s time to stop foraging and return to the hive.
Humans, with their bigger brains, can override these “time to come in” messages, especially when we’re involved in something fun. But do our big brains always make us smarter than a bee?
If you are looking for a fun family activity, you can visit King Gillette Ranch, a new park located in Calabasas at Mulholland Hwy. and Las Virgenes Canyon Road:
Map: http://www.lamountains.com/maps/KGR.pdf 
List of Activities: http://www.lamountains.com/pdf/2007-summer-KGR.pdf 
On weekends, you can also catch a free shuttle from King Gillette Ranch that will take you around the Santa Monica Mountains and to the beach: http://www.parklinkshuttle.com/ 
This Saturday, July 28 there will be a history walk from 9-10:30 AM.
Would you risk your life for our planet’s tomorrows? On Tuesday, July 31, from 8-10 PM we will host a fundraiser and the simultaneous world premiere of “The Thin Green Line”. All monies raised will go towards the International Ranger Federation (IRF) Dependants Fund to help families of rangers killed in the line of duty by poachers, guerillas, and militias.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to www.LAMountains.com  .
To see what's playing on radio station KHTS, go to www.hometownstation.com  or tune in to AM 1220.