Golden Gate Park (1/7/2022)

Today I got to visit my backyard. I was worried the faint drizzle in the day would keep me away. But, I completely lucked out. The sun and blue skies soon came out after 3pm and gave lovely Golden Hour light everywhere. I planned to do my default loop of Stow Lake (North), Pioneer Trail, and Secret Gardens/Lily Pond. But, with all the recent rains, I squeezed in the CAS Botanical Garden, too.

But, first, my usual entry to Naturing in the east part of the park – Monarch Bear Grove. Few Toyon berries are left right now. A California Scrub-Jay greeted me first. Then, I followed a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the Coast Live Oak above me for a bit. The blossoming Blueblossom smelled divine. Has it always smelled that nice?

Started the trails through the CAS Botanical Garden, and I spotted two Red-cage Fungus balls. I think that’s them. Saw one there not long ago, so… Would be so great to return in a couple days to confirm!

Continuing on, I saw a tiny worm thing floating in mid-air. It was hanging from a tree and appeared to be climbing up a web string of sorts. Greenhouse Millipede?? Hope someone on iNat helps me with the ID!

A number of things were blooming there, like Red-flowering Currant, Island Alumroot, a pretty pink Sage I’ll never ID, and Wartleaf Ceanothus (with very happy bees keeping it company). It’s nice to have blooming flora becoming more and more common these days. Also spotted a newtome mushroom, a bright yellow blob cluster called Orange Jelly Spot! So many jelly fungus out there right now.

Also, there were California Towhees and Golden-crowned Sparrows hanging out in the same tree together. One of the GCS looked HUGE. Like, all puffed up but never settled down to a smaller size. Possible it’s a pregnant female, Bob? The guide for my GGPark walk this week said that if you see a fluffy American Robin that doesn’t come down in size then it’s a pregnant female. ?

All was quiet at Squirrel Central for a change.

Up at Stow Lake, the birds were all the same as earlier in the week, EXCEPT a single Great Blue Heron was up in the highest nest of the Heron Tree! I haven’t been keeping the best track of this, but it seems early for them to be here already? Exciting to see, nonetheless. Spring is right around the corner, I guess!

Made a quick stop behind the Stow Lake bathrooms to document that banana tree from my GGPark walking tour. Plantain! So happy the fruit and one remaining flower were still in tact for me to get photos of. A man saw me looking at with my binocs and said, “It fruits every year. Isn’t that neat?” Agreed!

Calla Lilies are also blooming. When should I start looking for Goldenrod Crab Spiders in them, Ren?

On the Pioneer Trail, I was happy to see still-blooming Sagewood. And, tons of Scurfy Twiglets! Even some Peeling Oysterlings on the side of a eucalytpus. And, Hawthorn fruit were out!

But, something was strange. What looked like Dog Vomit Slime Mold was in a couple spots ON THE TRAIL. Just sitting on piles of dead, wet leaves. They do that?? I saw something like twenty instances of them throughout the trail. At one point, I made myself literally laugh out loud at the thought that maybe it was actually just a dog that vomited all along the trail. iNat till tell.

At the Secret Gardens, I had to check on my Slime Mold Lab log. Fresh Tubifera montana was there, along with the recent Bleeding Fairy Helmets. But, nearby, where that Candlesnuff Fungus was, I spotted something new on a tiny stump of a tree. A whole community of Flocculose Inkcaps? Didn’t look like that to me, but iNat points in that direction. Really hope I get confirmation on that ID. I’m counting on you, Alan!

While there, a woman and her dog started up the trail. She and her dog turned to see a man sitting on a bench, feeding squirrels. I looked at the sight, and she said to me, “That man is covered in squirrels.” To which, I said, “And, it is disturbing.” With all seriousness. She laughed and couldn’t stop laughing as she kept on her way. People feeding the park wildlife shall never not disturb me.

Visited the Lily Pond really briefly, just in case I heard hooting as it was around sunset. No hooting, but a Red-tailed Hawk sat on the tree that the Red-shouldered Hawk usually likes. And, no sign of Hooded Mergansers on the pond. Just that large group of Ring-necked Ducks and some Mallards.

Decided to walk back through the Secret Gardens before heading home, and I heard a strange woodpecker sound. Looked for it, and an Acorn Woodpecker was up in a eucalyptus tree. It was only a strange sound because I’ve never heard or seen Acorn Woodpeckers in GGPark except behind the Conservatory of Flowers. Once. Now, I’m not saying they’re not around. I just haven’t seen them much! It was a nice surprise.

Then, I heard A HOOT near that pine tree ahead. While watching and waiting for more hoots, I spotted Jelly Spot Fungus on a tiny tree branch. This is Jelly Fungus Time, people!

Didn’t hear more hoots, so I walked up one more path as I heard ANOTHER HOOT followed by a HIGH-PITCHED HOOT. The pair were together! And, up in a tree I’ve never seen them in before. Near that hill with the park bench on it. Hm, I should name that hill.

Got a perfect view of Pa Owl’s silhouette. Just by dumb luck. Owl pics below for the owl fans. Watched him fly to a tree closer to me. Hooting all the while. Watched him then fly to the top of a super tall tree near the owl nursery. If Happy Hour wasn’t calling, I would’ve kept watching. But, Happy Hour was calling.

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