Golden Gate Park (12/10/2021)

Today I got to go to my park. Since I haven’t been all week, I did the Greatest Hits Loop.

There was such a nice chill in the air when I started out across the ballfield, heading toward Monarch Bear Grove. The air feels crisp and clean and like a nice cold glass of refreshing water when it’s chilly out! It was so nice.

It was relatively quiet at Monarch Bear Grove. Well, there were a couple birds hiding in the bushes that I couldn’t quite see, as there were a handful of people coming through the main path that kept shooing them away. But, I did spot blooming Greenspot Nightshade. Again, something that might not be expected to bloom until Spring? Gotta check on that.

Oh, and Rosemary was blooming. I love those small, purple flowers! Some Brown Sage was still in bloom at the meadow, where White-crowned Sparrows were hanging out in the grass.

I detoured from heading straight to Stow Lake to check for Great Horned Owls in the owl nursery. I’m still curious if they ever hang out there these days. Looks like they don’t!

While there, I noticed super new and bright green leaves on the Coast Live Oaks over there. Spring just before the official start to Winter. It is still so weird.

Up at Stow Lake, I found more Chip Cherries in the spot I saw them in before. I noticed and IDed a newtome flower that was blooming, White Ginger. I’m shocked I didn’t notice it before. I even recognize Ginger leaves now, huh!

Yellow-rumped Warblers were making noise way up high in the eucs. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet was keeping me company for a bit. And, Ring-necked Ducks easily outnumbered the Mallards near the boathouse for a change.

Turning onto the Pioneer Trail, I noted that the Sagewood on the path to the Log Cabin was blooming, just like the Sagewood on Stow Lake (West). I started down the trail then was overcome with Sagewood scents. I turned to my left, and there was another Sagewood tree I didn’t know about! It’s so good to know where the best scents are in my park.

The huge tree trunk base behind the Log Cabin had some weird (and, I know that’s saying something) mushrooms at the very bottom end. Never saw mushrooms on that thing before! These were tucked away, hard to get to, and even harder to photograph well. May need a better specimen and better light to ID those. Best guess for now is Hypholoma?

As I was admiring the Ngaio berries, a Hermit Thrush flew into the tree and hid for a minute there. It did that wing flutter thing I’ve seen them do before and have mistaken for a juvenile move. It quickly left toward the Log Cabin as I was about to reach for my camera. Of course.

Bushtits were making their way through a Midland Hawthorn tree that still had berries on it. The American Robins, many of which were lording over their meadow high up in the eucs, seemed to allow it.

All was literally quite on the Pioneer Trail. No GHOs in that pine tree. But, I did see a good size cluster of Honey Mushrooms near the Fairy Door, which was a nice surprise!

I walked to the Lily Pond, hoping to catch the owls there. No sight of them in that one pine tree. But, it’s entirely possible one could be in that huge nest up there and not be seen…

The Hooded Mergansers and the Ring-necked Ducks are still owning the pond, while the one Mallard couple have to tolerate it.

I waited for a bit there and had my snack on the usual bench opposite the pine tree. No sign of them. But, I did get to watch two raptors come through. One flew right onto the lowest branch of that pine tree, while the other continued on south. Guessing Red-tailed Hawks? Saw so many of them overhead today in general.

I figured I’d give up but walk through the Secret Gardens to get home, JUST IN CASE. Got to the top of the path and heard A HOOT. One was in that Monterey Cypress tree I’d seen them in before. Couldn’t see it but heard its hoots. Then, it flew out and toward the Lily Pond. Headed back there, I saw more of that reddish Tubifera slime mold, and I spotted new mushrooms where I’d seen Blushing Rosette mushrooms before. I thought that’s what they were at first, but these were different. Best ID guess for now is Brown-staining Cheese Polypore!

At the Lily Pond, two GHOs were hooting from that pine tree there. It was super hard to see them, but finally one flew out and back toward the Secret Gardens. And, while watching for the other with a man who’d stopped to look after hearing the hooting, as well, I saw it. Barely. It looked to be on top of the nest from what I could tell. The man left. And, soon after, the owl flew toward the Secret Gardens. I started to think at the point that they were playing with me.

I walked back up the path toward the Secret Gardens, and I spotted the owl on a euc branch over the path. I love when I spot them without assistance! It hooted, then it flew to a nearby pine tree. Watched it hoot from there, then it flew back to the path. It flew to one more euc near the owl nursery, way up high. And, at that point I had to head home for Happy Hour with Brian. Plus, I was pretty done chasing them around!

Bottom line is, the pair are still around. Still starting their evenings together, just like last year. So, all is well in my world.

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