Golden Gate Park (1/17/2022)

Today was mostly a research day for The Book. I’ve got some locations on my list for Winter that I need filling in. And, today I decided to check Elk Glen Lake, Mallard Lake, and The Oasis off my list.

Now, every time I go Naturing doesn’t always return dramatic results. No surprising or amazing wildlife encounters. No newtome flora or mushrooms. And, yet. It was just so nice to be outside and Naturing. Even when I’ve been out Naturing all weekend already. It doesn’t get old.

Bird’s-eye Speedwell was the first to greet me. And, right where I parked! Close to that, a group of Golden-crowned Sparrows were occupying a clump of Wormwood bushes. Something about those sparrows. There always seem to be a couple in every group that doesn’t immediately fly away when I get close. I love when certain birds are like that.

I walked through the east side of Elk Glen Lake for a change. It’s not terribly exciting back there, but some Sugarbush and Pineapple Sage and Red-flowering Currant and Lemonwood were all blooming nicely for me.

My mushroom sightings in all three of these places was pretty low last year, so I was hoping to find some today. At the gnome tree spot, I only saw Chip Cherries. But Twinberry Honeysuckle blooming there was an unexpected gift. Moving around the lake, Mustard Yellow Polypore was in its usual spot on the side of a Monterey Pine. And, that was about it. Oh, and a couple Mallards, an American Coot, and a Pied-billed Grebe were on the lake. That’s it! No, wait. I could see White-margined Nightshade fruit, too.

At the start of the west side, blooming Puriri was a comforting sight. It seems like only one of the two trees of it there ever bloom. In the meadow/garden, there were new plantings. Mostly of Wartleaf Ceanothus, that I could tell. With a small group of Mica Caps hiding in the grass nearby. Some of the existing Wartleaf Ceanothus was blooming, showing the young plantings how it’s done. To think I used to assume Wartleaf Ceanothus and Blueblossom were the same. Ah, my naive younger naturalist self!

On the other side of the trail, Common Pear was showing off gorgeous leaf colors AND a couple blossoms. I noticed there are actually a handful of those trees out there. I don’t think I ever realized they were the same tree until today, when all their leaves were the same brilliant group of colors. Will they ever bear pears?

I started down the trail heading west and began to note the couple blooming flora on the right (Baby Sage, blue sage I’ll never ID, and Jerusalem Sage), when I heard a number of crows overhead. I looked up and saw them high up in a eucalyptus tree, with one much larger raven in the same area. It was odd. I kept looking up and continued to see more crows and more ravens joining. A meeting was happening!

During this, a guy started talking to me. He said something like “Hello” as he walked up from behind me. I didn’t think he was talking to me, then he came somewhat into view and said something like, “What are you looking at?” I told him I was taking into account the blooming flowers in the area, holding my phone as I was literally doing just that when he came up. “Oh, yeah? What’s blooming?” I proceeded to tell him. He started talking about the couple things he has, like succulents. And, it was awkward. I started to think, “This guy is hitting on me? Here? Now?” But, his shy manner made me then think that maybe he was trying to talk to a stranger. Maybe just to do that. I mean, he started talking to me before he even saw my face. So, that’s what I’m going with. I didn’t try to pursue a conversation, just answered/remarked briefly to his questions. JUST IN CASE he WAS hitting on me. He soon left to continue his walk. And, I resumed my database entries into my phone. So, yeah. That happened.

MOVING ON, I walked around Mallard Lake. A couple Mallards and an American Coot and a turtle were on the lake. And, THAT’S IT. It was feeling like such a quiet day in general that I started to wonder if all the wildlife took the holiday off.

Aside from a couple sages super close to the lake that I couldn’t ID, only the vivid yellow Saltcedar made an impression on me around the lake. I did hear a Northern Flicker to the south, but it was not that close. As I was about to enter The Oasis territory, two small groups of Sulphur Tuft looked up at me from a short dead log. And, I was THRILLED to see them!

Over at The Oasis, nothing really new was going on since I was last there in the Fall. Except a couple Deer Mushroom (I think) and a stump surrounded in old Sulphur Tuft. These two locations are just not bringing the mushrooms. But, the blooming Velvet Groundsel was easily dominating the place. So, that was nice to see. So many huge clusters of yellow flowers from those massive trees.

I headed back along Elk Glen Lake toward my car and couldn’t help but appreciate the sunset light at the lake. It’s not an exciting spot, and a lot more could be done to help it look nicer, but I can’t help but enjoy its tranquility. I can’t help but enjoy the spots that are relatively empty of people. Half of my favorite places in GGPark have that special quality that I cherish.

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