SF Botanical Garden (10/29/2021)

Today I thought I’d avoid any potential crowding in GGPark from Outside Lands by hiding away in the SFBG. And, I got exactly what I wanted.

But first, it started out not looking so good. All day, it’s been sunshine and 70 degrees. Checked the weather just before stepping out. 70 degrees. OK. Stepped outside my building, and the skies were overcast, there was a chillyish wind, and the fog was rolling in crazy fast.

I thought I might need to end my Naturing time prematurely, as I did not dress for that weather. But, the SFBG is relatively protected, with all the compacted flora and small trails and paths through it all. It’s nice to have such a sanctuary.

I had an idea to try to look for reported Sapsuckers in the garden, but the description from the SFBirds post was not helpful in knowing where exactly to look. So, I totally meandered. My first stop was at the CA Native area. And, I happened to look down at a shallow hole at the base of a turned over tree stump. I really have no idea why. Just happened to look there. Skip the next paragraph if you’re easily squeamish / don’t want to read about dead wildlife.

I peered down and saw something small and furry. A mouse wouldn’t just be sitting there, right? Turns out it was a dead squirrel, with its head missing. Now, this was interesting, because I had just read in Bay Nature magazine how if raptors have abundant food sources, they will just take rodents’ heads and leave the rest. Like, I just read this. Like, yesterday?? I love when that happens. I have now seen it in action! Of course, maybe the rest was left for another time. But, interesting…

Moving on, I noticed a number of Orange Bush Monkeyflower bushes still blooming. I really haven’t seen this elsewhere lately. But, I haven’t seen those bushes together in that number. Maybe they do better when they’re surrounded by other native flora? Maybe it’s a chiller environment in the SFBG? Got me wondering about it.

I heard a familiar bird sound in a nearby Manzanita tree, and I spotted two Ruby-crowned Kinglets – one with a bright ruby crown! It’s been forever since I’ve seen that. Bonus was seeing a Black-tailed Bumblebee buzzing around the same tree. Also haven’t seen one of those in a really long time. Nice to see old friends again.

Most of my time there was spent admiring all the mushrooms, and they were everywhere. Including a new-to-me mushroom, Felt-ringed Agaricus!
After watching all kinds of birds in a Fir tree near the Redwood Grove, including Northern Mockingbirds, Pygmy Nuthatches, more Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Dark-eyed Juncos, Bushtits, and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, I strolled past the Moon Viewing Garden and smelled a wondrous flower that I still need to ID. The sign on the tree was hard to make out, so I’ll need to research it. But, GAWD. Such a sweet perfume. Even in autumny weather, flower aromas are to be enjoyed.

Then, DRAMA. It was nearing the end of my time out, so I wandered through the Cloud Forest to head out. I came upon a spot where a ton of different kinds of birds were chattering so loudly and frenetically at the top of fairly tall trees. The trees were so dense that I couldn’t see any birds. And they were all calling so often and over each other, it was hard to make them out individually.

I found a tiny path closer to and underneath the trees. And, I just stood for a bit, still trying to see just one bird. Then, a flash flew out of nowhere and was perfectly visible to me, about 15 feet away. A Sharp-shinned Hawk! Never have seen one that close before! It was in shadow, but I made out distinguishing features and IDed it on my phone later. It hung onto a branch for like 10 seconds, then flew away. And, all the chattering stopped almost immediately. When birds sound crazy like that, there’s a reason!

It was a fairly exciting way to end my time there, and that’s not something I often say about my time in the garden!

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