Golden Gate Park (10/25/2021)

Today I went to my backyard. I was very curious how my park held up during the crazy rains yesterday. And, it was A MESS. During much of my Naturing, I felt like I was out surveying the storm damage. Started on Whiskey Hill, and it was like Nature had a huge party and did no cleanup.

Made my way along the Lawn Bowling Greens, and I heard Bushtits above me in the Holly tree. Watched them for a while and noticed an Eastern Gray Squirrel and a Townsend’s Warbler and an American Robin among them. So fun to watch all the creatures eating all the acorns and berries these days. At the end, I noticed a Hermit Thrush (THRUSH, Bob!!) in a Coast Live Oak. And, it was not SO SHY that I was actually able to get photos! THRILLING, seriously.

Took a stroll through the AIDS Memorial Grove and caught sight of a super ripe Coffeeberry berry. Never seen one so ripe! The White Australian Fuchsia are in bloom (AGAIN or STILL?). And, I saw a new-to-me (?) mushroom at the base of a redwood tree! It was eaten up a bit, so I might not be able to ID it…

I was curious if any owls would be in the owl nursery, given all the rain yesterday. And, nope. No one. So, I wandered the South trails along the Lily Pond, hoping I’d finally catch sight of where they were between the owl nursery and Lily Pond. They have to be SOMEWHERE around there if they’re to end up at the Lily Pond for the winter like last year! No sight of them, but a gorgeous Western Hardwood Sulphur Shelf mushroom was peeking out on the side of a dead tree log. Nice.

The Lily Pond area was in disarray, with much of the Chilean Rhubarb leaves all collapsed. HOWEVER, the pond itself was the cleanest I’ve seen it IN MONTHS. WHA??

The Mountain Grape is starting to bloom again there. That Red-shouldered Hawk swooped up and hung out on its favorite branch. And, I found more new-to-me mushrooms near the Tree Fern Dell.

I was very close to sunset, so I walked slowly back through the Secret Garden, hoping I’d hear a Great Horned Owl… Walked up the path to the GHO nest tree, and I found a new-to-me SLIME MOLD! Wolf’s Milk! It is BIZARRE. I LOVE IT. And, I really need a book on slime molds.

On this same log, I saw super fresh Dog Vomit Slime Mold. In two places. This log is the best slime mold lab ever.

Figured I’d walk past the owl nursery on my way out, and no one… Was about to head down the East trail to Pelosi Dr., and THERE WAS JUNIOR. In that eucalyptus tree I saw him in once before, with his back to me. I walked around to see the front of him, and HE HOOTED. He then flew off toward the Lily Pond. So, I FOLLOWED HIM.

I felt like it was possible I could find him again, if he hooted again. Walked the same South trail along the Lily Pond, like I did not long before. And, HOOTING. Found him! He hooted a couple times, and then all of a sudden ANOTHER HOOTING right in front of me!! Another Great Horned Owl was in front of me, hidden under Coast Live Oak leaves! It soon flew over to Junior, and they stood almost side by side. Alternatively HOOTING TOGETHER.

It was obvious the 2nd one was Ma Owl, given her larger size and eventual higher-pitch hoots. They both stood there, staring intently across the pond. It was MAGICAL. Then they continued to alternate hooting, and Junior then flew across the pond and into a super tall pine tree. Ma Owl joined him a bit later. And, they continued to hoot together.

So, I’m very aware it might be Pa Owl I’m seeing. I am. And, if I soon see them mating, I’ll know for sure it’s Pa Owl. But, I’m sticking to my guns til I’m proven wrong.

It was getting dark, so I walked Bowling Green Drive back. Just liked I used to do when I stayed out late at the Lily Pond watching the owls last autumn/winter. Felt like a familiar old and cozy coat I got to wear again.

All in all, I was quite high from seeing that Wolf’s Milk. And, I had no expectation of seeing any owls. So, watching the Great Horned Owls of the Lily Pond hoot and fly for so long was like CHRISTMAS. Pretty awesome day.

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