Golden Gate Park (11/9/2021)

Today I was so happy to get outside. I HAD planned on getting out yesterday before the rains started, but right after I got ready to walk out the door, the Weather app showed drizzle starting soon. And rain after that. So, I bailed. But did it drizzle soon? Nope. Did it actually not rain for hours even though the Weather app claimed it was raining?? NOPE. At least I spent that time finishing up my Cornell Owl Class, so there.

I only had one thing on my agenda, to get more photos of a St. John’s Wort I thought I’d IDed forever ago at the Lily Pond but have not been able to find in my Flora database. And, look for mushrooms, of course.

It was my first Naturing since the time change. And, I guess I have to leave at 3pm instead of 4pm to get a full 2 hours of daylight now! The park smelled great after the rains. And, many new mushrooms were spotted! I started on Whiskey Hill and spotted some bizarre mushroom brackets (Pine Bracket?) on several places of a Monterey Pine tree. Newtome mushroom! It was a fantastic start.

I then wandered through the Lawn Bowling Club building, noticing a small yellow bird bopping around in a thick bush. Didn’t even notice what kind of flora. Boo on me. My best guess is a Yellow Warbler. Is that likely, Bob? Seems not likely, but I really don’t know what else it could have been, looking at all the other candidates from Merlin…

On Bowling Green Drive, I noticed the tall Redclaws hedge on the East side quivering and heard Bushtits. And, sure enough, a large group was moving through them quickly, along with a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Townsend’s Warbler and a hummingbird and even some White-crowned Sparrows joined the party. I even got a couple in-focus photos of the Bushtits which AMAZED ME.

Got to the Lily Pond, and I had to check on that Laetiporus along the south ridge trail that I told that mushroom guy about. Yep, still there. Hope he found it.

At the Lily Pond, I noticed a Trash Spider (aka Metepeira) among the entirely deflated Chilean Rhubarb leaves. Neat! Haven’t seen one there before. And, the male Hooded Merganser was there, now with TWO LADIES in tow…

I was admiring the blooming Mountain Grape when I heard A HOOT. Now, it was not even 3:30pm. But, it had been sunny and had gotten immediate cloud cover in the past 10 minutes or so. Did it throw the owls off? I looked for the Great Horned Owl, but I wasn’t able to see it from the pond. I heard A HIGH HOOT and was able to spot Ma Owl, in a Coast Live Oak super close to the pond and unobstructed by branches. I was watching her with my binocs, and a guy stopped to notice. He told me he heard GHOs where he lives near Glen Canyon. We exchanged that we knew about the baby owls over there, and he went on his way.

While still watching her, two older women walked by. And, they stopped behind me to see. One of them said, “That’s my first owl!” We proceeded to chat about them, and I told them all about the pair, Junior, that they were at the Lily Pond all Fall and Winter of last year, etc. They were very happy to learn all about them! It was nice!

After taking some pics of the St. John’s Wort, I thought I’d quickly check the owl nursery. No owl. So, I’m feeling confident the male I’m seeing at the Lily Pond is Pa Owl now.

Heading back again on the south ridge trail, I spotted three different mushrooms, including a super new and bright Yellow Fieldcap. They do not look real. Love them.

Walked to the Secret Mushroom Spot, and the south side trail looked so inviting after the rain. The grasses all over the park are bursting and glowing green. The place looks pretty lovely thanks to the recent rains! That trail never looked so good!

Sadly, the Dally Pine (that was my first Dally Pine) was no more. Looks like it was finally chopped down. Maybe the Field Elm behind it would never let it be happy? I’m so glad I know of three other Dally Pines in the park I can visit.

Not a whole lot happening mushroom-wise over there, so I headed the back way to the Lily Pond. I hadn’t been up there in a while. And, I used to walk back there all the time. It’s another quiet and hardly ever travelled spot that I used to enjoy often. Heard and then saw a Northern Flicker way high up on a eucalyptus branch. Wish I could’ve seen it in better light and closer!

Walking along the north ridge trail, I started thinking how when I used to spend time there that I’d often see a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the Coast Live Oaks up there. And then, I HEARD ONE. It was oddly high up in the eucs (that’s a birder abbreviation), but it was perfectly cued for me thinking about it. I LOVE WHEN THAT HAPPENS. It must be the witch in me.

Spotted what looked like two Chip Cherries at either end of a short dead branch, but none of my ID apps think that’s it. Scaly Rustgill, perhaps?? Right near them were a tiny cluster of a couple Milking Bonnets? And, a cluster growing on the side of a Man Fern. Onion-stalk Parasol? I swear, it is a Fungi Paradise out there right now!!

I read somewhere someone saying that mushrooms are the flowers of Winter. I like that. It’s definitely nice to see so many things blooming this time of year. Doesn’t have to be flowers!

It was getting close to sunset, so I decided to just watch the owls and see them fly off. I stood in front of Ma Owl, since Pa Owl was deep in the mosquito area, and just watched her preen and do her evening stretches. They both started hooting, with Pa Owl doing most of it. Eventually, he flew over my head and into one of the same super tall Monterey Pines on the ridge I’ve seen them in before. She watched him and kept an eye on him but was also preoccupied with sounds close to her.

He hooted a lot while all by himself. She then turned West and flew off! Now, this was interesting. I’ve pretty much always seen them fly East when they start their evening routine. This is true of the GHOs of Stow Lake, as well. My theory is that it’s darker in the East. But, who knows.

He hooted a couple more times, then he flew West toward where she went! Fascinating! I walked up into the East edge of the Secret Gardens, and they kept hooting back and forth. I walked the trail north to try to spot them, figuring I wouldn’t given all the tall and dense trees right there. Then, I looked up and saw their silhouette of them MATING. It was quick (like when I’ve seen it before) and he flew off right after (like when I’ve seen it before) right over my head doing a “Hoo hoo hoo” while in flight! She stayed. And, I got a decent photo of her. Owl photos are below for the owl fans, as usual.

All I could think of was what little time they had inbetween reproducing and rearing kids. A couple months. That’s it. And, it’s time to start all over again.

I have to look at my posts from last year and see when I saw them mating back then to compare notes. Seems early this year, but I could be remembering that wrong. Is it strange I’m already wondering who I’ll meet in the owl nursery next spring?

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