today i got to GO OUTSIDE!!! four days of staying home to work on my research paper made me downright giddy to get out today. and, as i stepped outside my building, i caught sight of what i think was a MERLIN!! i so rarely see them, and i’m pretty sure that’s what it was. a lovely way to return to my favorite late afternoon activity. i made my way through the Monarch Bear Grove to check on the owl nursery. Junior was there! sleeping, as expected! with our plan for a late dinner tonight, i was timing the end of my Naturing to coincide with sunset to hopefully watch and maybe even hear the Great Horned Owl(s). while at the owl nursery, i got see what i think was a juvenile Hermit Thrush demurely begging, as well as a Nuttall’s Woodpecker in plain sight for a change! on the way out, i saw Dog Vomit Slime Mold!! i can’t even say how excited i was to a) just see it, and b) to see it in a location i’ll be covering in The Book. attention, Tammy Stellanova! you’ll get to draw this weirdo thing!! i finally walked the Oak Woodlands Trail, after planning to do so for weeks now. not a whole lot going on, as expected. but it was nice to see good size acorns on the Coast Live Oaks, along with blooming Coyote Brush and Asian Lady Beetle larvae. walked through the Lily Pond, and a Red-shouldered Hawk swooped up onto a tree i’ve seen them in before. i love when that happens. at the end, i returned to the owl nursery. and Junior was awake. stood watching him for a while, and just before sunset, he HOOTED. MANY TIMES. SO EXCITING. and right about at sunset, he casually and effortlessly took flight through the Coast Live Oaks and down toward the Lily Pond. all is right with my world. owl pics in the comments for you owl fans.