Golden Gate Park (11/05/2021)

Today I had about an hour for Naturing time. Not cool, but it was what it was. Had no particular agenda, except the plan to actually stay away from the Lily Pond to avoid the mosquitoes out there.

As I was about to enter the Monarch Bear Grove, I noticed a bird or two in the Coast Live Oaks. And, there were so many all near each other! White-crowned Sparrows, California Towhees, Dark-eyed Juncos, a Warbling Vireo, a Hutton’s Vireo (I think), and a couple more that I have now forgotten. I have to write stuff down more.

I just stood there, watching them all frenziedly (is that a word?) bopping from branch to branch. Like they were are all at the same party together or something.

I watched the Hutton’s Vireo (I think) fly to the New Zealand Broadleaf tree I was next to, and I noticed a golden fungus-looking thing on one of the branches. On closer inspection, it was on many branches! Wrinkled Crust, according to Seek! I’m sure I’ll get a revision on that ID from iNaturalist… But, newtome mushroom!

Nice to see the blooming Cornish Lily again in the little garden north of Monarch Bear Grove.

Figured I’d stop by the owl nursery on my way to wherever, as I’m really curious if a) it’s still Junior I’m seeing there, and b) when he’ll leave. I’ve been reading more on the GHOs, and the juveniles can stay til the Fall. Don’t know why I thought they left at the end of the summer. Different sources, perhaps? Anyhoo, I’m compelled to keep tabs on them to find out.

No sign of any Great Horned Owl in the nursery. I walked by the nest tree and stopped at my new favorite tree log to see if any slime molds were still around.

The spots where Dog Vomit Slime Mold were before were now entirely white! So fascinating. While I was looking at them, a young guy running down the path stopped to ask me if I was looking at a mushroom.

“I’m just looking at slime molds.” It is so bizarre to me that this is something I would say to someone that might give them the impression I am totally into slime molds. I mean, I am. But, I never would’ve guessed it. We then chatted for maybe 15 minutes (?) about mushrooms. He’d heard there were many but wasn’t seeing them. Shocked, I relayed that I’ve been seeing mushrooms everywhere in the park since the rains started.

“What kind?” he asked. “Mostly Agaricus, I think, and Yellow Fieldcaps, of late.” He’d heard about reports of Laetiporus but had seen no sign of them. “There’s a huge one near the Lily Pond!” I told him. I tried to describe where it was. Most of the super neato things I know of in the park are never in an easy to describe place. I offered to show him where, but he could sense my Owl Witchiness. And, he said he thought he’d be able to find it. I also told him of what I thought was Agaricus along the AIDS Memorial Grove that I saw on the way over. Again, kind of hard to describe.

We talked more about mushrooms. He asked if I’d ever taken any as samples, to which I replied that you’re not supposed to remove mushrooms from GGPark… We talked about iNaturalist, and how there are fervent mushroom folks there that often quickly correct that what you think is a certain species certainly is not. I mentioned UC Davis as a place that uses iNaturalist for data. And I ended up telling him all about my Cal Nat certification in the Sierras. He knew nothing about it!

He’s an arborist with West Coast Arborists (?), I believe. We parted ways, and he said I gave him hope of finding mushrooms. As he left, I wondered how he could see them while running. I walk slowly and scour the ground in order to find them. I saw about 5 separate groups of different kinds of mushrooms just walking from my place to the owl nursery. And, what’s truly funny is just how many I saw AFTER that guy left. Should’ve Natured with me to see the bounty!

I had so little time left before I needed to meet Brian for Happy Hour, so I decided just to stroll through the CAS Botanical Garden.

Taking a short walk through the Secret Gardens, I heard and got to see a Nuttall’s Woodpecker doing its business and a California Scrub-Jay, which casually hung out on a branch super close to me. They are such attractive birds.

On my way there, I saw A BUNCH of mushroom clusters on the meadow edge about where the CAS meets the owl nursery trail. I laughed, I think, out loud at the sight of them. How can you not see all the mushrooms in the park right now??

I turned back to see if the guy happened to be around. He wasn’t, but I noted two Cedar Waxwings atop a tall cypress (?) tree. Just two. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so few at a time before. But, yay to see them back again!

Mushrooms were all around the CAS Botanical Garden. Soon after stepping onto the East side of the trail, I spotted a fading Red Cage Fungus!! Two of them nestled amongst the Indian Strawberry. I have been thinking about them lately, wondering when I’d start seeing them again. Again, that guy should’ve stuck with me.

Close to them, I saw a beautiful blue insect just hanging out on a large green leaf, perfectly visible for me to see it. I was even able to get close to take photos. A Common Blue Mud-dauber Wasp? Such a gorgeous blue on it. And how polite it was to keep so still for me to observe it.

Saw three more different kinds of mushrooms along those paths. It was a mushroom bonanza day!

At the West end, I just stood and watched another mixed flock of birds on the ground and in the small trees over there, including a Townsend’s Warbler and a handful of Yellow-rumped Warblers. Even the housekeeping work of a couple different Botta’s Pocket Gophers was seen over on that side. Maybe the rains keep them busy re-building?

Continuing on toward the Shakespeare Garden, I found another mixed flock feeding on the ground and jumping from tree to tree. Saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet among the mostly White-crowned Sparrows on the ground. I just watched for a while. Then a handful of American Robins arrived on the scene, and the smaller birds scattered to corners. The robins owned the place for about 30 seconds, until a Steller’s Jay swooped in which made THEM scatter. It was so amazing to see the ranking displayed before my eyes.

I walked over to admire the newly planted flora outside of the Shakespeare Garden’s brick wall. I turned back to see what was going on with all the birds, and an Eastern Gray Squirrel came down from a tree and appeared to truly be the king of the lawn. Guess above that is a raptor?

Headed toward Lincoln along MLK and heard a bird sound not familiar to me. Now, bird sounds are so not my specialty. But, this one sounded crazy close, like I should easily be able to see it. It was a Hermit Thrush! Singing, I think! It was in the open and still. That almost never happens for me. Got to watch it sing and even got some photos. What a treat.

I was very close to arriving at Lincoln when I saw ANOTHER group of different mushrooms outside the SFBG main gate. Stinking Dapperlings? That arborist guy either needs some glasses, or I may be a Fungi Fairy in addition to being an Owl Witch.

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