Golden Gate Park (11/02/2021)

Today Brian joined me for Naturing! We left a little later than my normal, and sunset is now just after 6pm, so we didn’t have a minimum of 2 hours (as is my preference). But, we saw a lot for his first Naturing outing in a super long time!

We strolled through the Monarch Bear Grove and along the East side of the CAS, where Red-flowering Currant is blooming. This whole everythingisbloomingagain thing is weirding me out!

Making our way through the Music Concourse and noting all the mushrooms along the way, we decided to finally partake of the SkyStar Wheel, after planning to experience when it opened but aborting that plan given the tons of folks with the same idea. It was nice! Pricey, given the time you get, but hey. It’s an attraction. And, we got to enjoy it on an amazingly clear day.

Marsh Marigolds were edging the little stream thing at the Japanese Tea Garden exit, which was a treat. Never saw those there before!

We walked past the Fairy Door and explored the Pioneer Trail, which he hadn’t been to in a while. All was quiet, until we made it to the owl pine tree. And, a Great Horned Owl was up there! We watched it for less than a minute, when a Jay (Steller’s or California Scrub, I can’t remember!) started squawking like crazy. Soon a couple ravens and crows swooped in. And, THE FIGHT WAS ON. They harassed the GHO like there was no tomorrow. We were in an amazing spot to see the show and watched the GHO constantly fighting them off. It eventually found a way to a spot where its back was protected, and the harassers soon gave up and left. We’ve only seen this once before, at the Lily Pond last Winter. Where the GHOs of the Lily Pond fought off just one raven, I believe. This was NUTS how many the GHO of Stow Lake had to deal with. Glad to have seen it end so we could make our way and not wonder what happened.

At Pioneer Meadow, we saw a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, American Robin, and a California Scrub-Jay all in the same bare tree. Not too shabby for Brian’s first time out in a while!

Got to show him the flowering Mexican Mock Orange (still smelling divine) near the Log Cabin and the bizarre Jimsonweed fruit pods. Back on the trail, he spotted a rat. I spotted Manzanita Tejocotera fruit and a gigantic Shamrock Orbweaver. And, we got to watch Song Sparrows and a Hermit Thrush bathing in a large puddle on the trail.

Made it to Stow Lake, where he caught a flying insect I’ve been seeing lately in the park so I could take pics to ID it. A Pacific Dampwood Termite! So glad I finally know what it is!

Things were quiet at Stow Lake. We crossed the ugly bridge, as it was sunset time so I was hoping to hear/see the other GHO of Stow Lake. And, sure enough, right after we stepped onto Strawberry Hill we heard it! Same tree I saw it in last time. Watched and heard the hooting for a bit, and we left to see the Great Blue Heron island from the waterfall side. Showed Brian the flowering Garden Heliotrope so he could smell those beauties, and we heard hooting there and back.

As we walked along Stow Lake toward home, the GHO flew over our heads and to the Pioneer Trail, where we saw the other GHO fly right up after it!

And to complete our Naturing, we got to see bats flitting over Stow Lake. Hopefully eating A TON of the far too many mosquitoes that are out and about lately! I remember encountering no mosquitoes in the park since I started Naturing there in the spring of ’20, up until this Fall. And now, they’re out every dang evening. So lucky I finally remembered to bug spray myself before heading out this afternoon!

A very action-packed afternoon with my original Naturing partner-in-crime. Just like old times.

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