Golden Gate Park (10/26/2021)

Today I did not see the Great Horned Owls of the Lily Pond. I didn’t even look for them. SO, THERE.

I did walk around Stow Lake and up and down Strawberry Hill.

Started off on MLK via the ballfield, surveying the loads of storm damage. One huge tree (Monterey Cypress?) was totally down at the ballfield and was taped off! Lots of yellow tape in the park right now. Spotted Pygmy Nuthatches and a Townsend’s Warbler in a Norfolk Island Pine on my way to Stow Lake.

Once up there, I heard and saw a group of Yellow-rumped Warblers in an empty tree above me. I love that I can ID them from their calls now.
Ring-necked Ducks and a Hooded Merganser were notably on the lake. Orange Clock Vine is blooming?? And, two large trees fell across the lake and are now blocking it!

Crossed the pretty bridge, and I soon saw Dog Vomit Slime Mold. Yep, maybe it was here last year after all. But, maybe I wasn’t in GGPark so much last October?? Were we exploring The Presidio back then? Apparently, I’m seeing DVSM all the time now. Still a lucky treat to spot!

Admired a gorgeous deep gray duck hybrid before spotting a couple Fox Sparrows on the garden side of Strawberry Hill. And, I actually got some photos for the first time of them! How bout that.

My favorite path up Strawberry Hill was taped off, so I winded through the blooming (again?? still??) Garden Heliotrope (smelling amazing) and up the super steep staircase. On the way up, I noticed super bizarre black moldy blobs on fallen branches. BLACK WITCHES’ BUTTER. It is my new favorite thing. I love how many fungi and molds have common names including “witches’ butter.” It’s easily one of the most captivating things about it for me.

After oohing and aahing at all of that (and that did take a while), I got to the reservoir. And saw more mushrooms! Blushing Rosette and Scurfy Twiglets. Got to inhale the perfumy Mexican Mock Orange (blooming, AGAIN or STILL). Lots of Steller’s Jays up there at that time. Definitely more than I’ve ever seen in one place before in GGPark. Weird…

Enjoyed watching a Red-tailed Hawk fluffling itself up before I crossed back over the pretty bridge to continue my Stow Lake Loop. At the Southwest corner, where typically Mallards and the Domestic Ducks and the Muscovy Duck are, I turned the corner and saw a Snowy Egret in the water! First time ever seeing one at Stow Lake. I stopped immediately and snapped some photos. It was wading closer and closer to me, and it walked out of the water onto some rocks right in front of me. AND THEN, it walked out from the rocks and casually strolled by me, LITERALLY A FOOT FROM ME. I was frozen and couldn’t believe it got so close to me. Did it know I was a person? Did it think I was a tree because of my brown coat?? It was amazing. I got teary-eyed. I’m amazed by all the incredibly close encounters I have had during my Naturing times. Makes me feel special. Like they know they can trust me. It’s silly. But, that’s the feel it gives me. What can you do.

Came upon the ugly bridge, and there were full-on Conifer Chicken of the Woods (I think) growing on the side of a Monterey Pine. Never saw that there before!

Was about to leave the ugly bridge when I heard A HOOT. Now, I heard a single hoot at the same spot last Friday. So, it wasn’t a surprise. But, it did dawn on me that that’s why I almost always do the Stow Lake Loop clockwise. So I end passing the ugly bridge, because that’s where I’ve so often heard the Great Horned Owls of Stow Lake before.

Walked back onto Strawberry Hill, as there were multiple hoots going on now. And, I spotted the pair! They were in a Monterey Pine on the hillside. They’d be impossible to see from the reservoir. No photos, as they were up so high and in such darkness. That is how I used to only see them. Gah, I’ve been so spoiled by the owl nursery. Anyhoo, so great to see the pair again! Haven’t seen both together since, what, last July?

Made my usual way back on MLK, and as I approached Lincoln I saw a couple white ball clusters across the street. Shaggy Parasol mushrooms! I swear, it’s a really fantastic time to see mushrooms right now. If you’re into such a thing. LIKE I AM.

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