Golden Gate Park (11/16/2021)

Today I got to go Naturing. Haven’t been since last Thursday, my gawd. No time last Friday. Rehearsal and show Monday. Whenever it’s been some days since my last time out, it feels so strange to be out again. Like I’m not sure how to do it anymore. Like it’s been so long. It’s not a feeling I like…

So! Since it’d been a while, I figured I’d check the owl nursery and wander wherever after. On the way, I noticed blooming California Fuchsia in the Monarch Bear Grove. Has that always been there? While there, heard then saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the Coast Live Oaks above me. And, on my way out, I saw a number of webs in the Natal Lily bushes opposite the AIDS Memorial Grove.

A handful of small, white orbweavers of some kind were scattered below a Cross Orbweaver in its massive web above. I got terrible photos of the spider, as neither of my cameras were able to focus on it. And, I stupidly left my macro lens in a different jacket at home. BUT, I spotted what looks like a cricket of some kind on a leaf all within these web homes. A CRICKET! No luck in IDing it yet. Hapithus genus is the frontrunner, for now…

The same clusters of Agaricus (?) mushrooms were under trees alongside the AIDS Memorial Grove, but there are more now! The mushroom wonderland continues.

Made it to the owl nursery, entirely expecting no one to be home.


A sleeping Great Horned Owl was indeed there, in the safe spot from crows/ravens. Not positive if male or female, but if I had to guess, female? They really aren’t favoring any particular tree these days it seems.

I thought about strolling through the Secret Gardens before looking for any other owl at the Lily Pond. But, I stopped to investigate my slime mold lab tree trunk, and I saw a newtome SLIME MOLD! Red Raspberry Slime Mold!! This tree trunk is my absolute favorite. The Wolf’s Milk mushrooms were still there, along with False Puffballs? As well as another newtome solo orange mushroom I’ll likely never be able to ID…

And, curiously, an upside-down large mushroom (Deer Mushroom?) was sitting at the top edge of the trunk. Looking like someone had put it there. Perhaps, for me to see?? It’s odd the things that cross my mind when I’m in the field, hooboy.

I was on my way to the Dally Pine near the Rhododendron Dell when I heard a woodpecker high above me. A Nuttall’s Woodpecker and a Brown Creeper and a California Scrub-Jay were all hanging out near each other. As I was watching them, I heard the crazy fast wings of a hummingbird blow past me and into a flowering bush (Baby Sage, was it?) in front of me. It was THAT QUIET. It was an Anna’s Hummingbird, and it blew right past me out of the bush after I saw its magenta neck!

A couple Golden-crowned Sparrows were about. And one stood quite close to me on the ground, its mouth moving quickly as it ate its dinner. Kind of reminded me of a squirrel eating? But, it was amazing how soon after I stood still that it came near me. Happens all the time, it seems. All you have to do is keep still and quiet, and the creatures don’t seem to mind you.

Bidens aequisquama (can we get a dang common name for this already?) were blooming nearby. And, a variety of mushrooms were all around. I unintentionally found a nice little spot right there!

I ambled to the Lily Pond to see if I could locate the other GHO. No luck. But, the Mountain Grape flowers are going bonkers still. And, the Green Alkanet are showing up now. There was an additional male Hooded Merganser to the previous trio. And, a Ring-necked Duck couple and Hermit Thrush rounded out the pond visitors.

Another cricket (same, as far as I could tell) was on the edge of a long leaf at the edge of the pond. I’ve never seen crickets up until today, and now I’ve seen two in one day. I wanted to get better looks at it with my hand lens, but I feared I’d scare it off. Probably should have tried. Next time.

While sitting on a bench there, I got to watch the big, pink fluffy clouds above me. I think the last time I was at the Lily Pond at sunset there was a pink hue everywhere, too. So lovely to be able to watch so many more sunsets these days while I’m out.

I totally expected to hear hooting by then, but I hadn’t. I walked back to the owl nursery, and the GHO had left. Giving up, I figured I’d walk through the West edge of the Secret Gardens for a change to head on home. As I approached my slime mold lab tree trunk, I heard A HOOT. Soon followed by ANOTHER HOOT. Huh! They were in the Secret Gardens, wacky. Found the male high up, and the female was high up in the tree next to it. Both were on the ends of bare branches, hooting away.

I found the female GHO in my binocs, and just as I focused on her the male swooped in and on top of her! MATING, AGAIN. My timing was nutso. Again, it was quick. And, again he flew off to a nearby tree. She just hung out for a bit before flying over my head and toward JFK. My photo of her is crappy, as it was so dark! Took lots of pictures, but none came out great. Owl pics below for the owl fans.

It was a pretty exciting way to end my night, but then I looked up and saw the almost full moon rising behind wispy clouds in the East. A fitting witchy end to my evening out. The streetlights were out for some reason all along Bowling Green Drive. And, of course, I called GGPark Dispatch to let them know. But, I had the light of an almost full silvery moon to help me on my home. Not too shabby.

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