Golden Gate Park (1/18/2022)

Today I wanted to cover the Pioneer Trail and Strawberry Hill, so I did.

I also was hoping to take note of ANY mushroom in the Monarch Bear Grove. And, I found one!! A simple Turkey-Tail on a fallen tree branch is what I was able to find. And, I was happy to find it in a place I rarely see mushrooms!

Also, there were blooming Brown Sage and Rosemary, along with maybe the largest group of White-crowned Sparrows I’ve ever seen in GGPark, perhaps? They were all on the ground and in the grass in the meadow. Many looking quite plump!

Took a quick stop through part of the CAS Botanical Garden, and I immediately spotted Deer Mushroom in the distance. I lovelovelove when I finally recognize something I recentlyish learned. Didn’t have to look it up or anything. That’s right.

Also there was a single Douglas Iris (first this year for me!), but it was broken at the stem. Poor thing. Hoping to see more of them soon. Also caught sight of an old Red-cage Fungus in a new place there. Neat!

Headed up to the Fairy Door to walk the Pioneer Trail, and it looks like a huge eucalyptus fell right into the garden area. Have I really not walked by there to see this since the rains? The garden area is a mess. Hope they get that Hummingbird Sage going there again soon.

On the Pioneer Trail, what looks like Cherry-plum FRUIT is appearing. Yep, too soon. And, that trusty Field Elm with the Artist’s Bracket was still going strong. Artist’s Bracket is so awesome. If you’ve never seen it before, it is a sight to behold. But, the trail in general felt so empty. Like, most of the trees all lost their leaves since I was last there.

While taking the Historic Trees trail for a change, I noticed all the invasive ivy everywhere. And, it made me think that it’s the areas I love so much that appear to be “wild” but are likely just so overgrown with invasive plants that the park folks focus their efforts elsewhere? The Pioneer Trail has invasive ivy and blackberry. Mallard Lake kind of has the same problem, too. Hm.

I got to the end of the historic trees, and I looked up to see a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a low branch of a tree in front of me. I love when that happens. But, it quickly flew east before I could get a photo of its back and beautiful red tail.
Cutting through the meadow to get back onto the trail, I didn’t hear much in the way of bird noises. Some American Robins were nearby, but that was about it. I was taking note of some Barberry-looking flowers when I heard A HOOT. It came from Stow Lake. It sounded like it had to be in the tall pine trees near the road above. ODD.

I hurried along the rest of the Pioneer Trail, wondering if one of the Great Horned Owls of Stow Lake would possibly be where I thought the hoot came from. But, once I got there, nothing. Just a California Scrub-Jay parading a peanut in its mouth. And, a Red-tailed Hawk (maybe that same one from before?) was perched in a tree. And, just like before, it quickly flew off before I could try getting its photo. Annoying.

I headed up Strawberry Hill, noting what looked like Carnival Candy Slime Mold and blooming Trailing Blackberry along the staircase. Got close to the top and saw some Pine Bracket. Newtome mushroom!

Once at the top, the hooting was right there. Both of them. In a Monterey Pine tree I’ve never seen them in before. It was very hard to get good looks of either, as both were high up and mostly obstructed by branches. How the heck they get in and out of such places is beyond me. I stood and watched for a while, letting others curious about them know they were indeed in that tree, the female does the high hoot, and so forth.

While there, a woman with binoculars walked closer to me. I glanced at her, and she said, “Hi, Karen.” She recognized me from volunteering at Black Point Historic Gardens! We both watched for a bit, then she left. We may see each other on Thursday. Nice.

Since they hadn’t been hooting long, and it wasn’t THAT close to sunset, I walked around the reservoir level. Blooming Island Mallow, Wartleaf Ceanothus, and even a couple Beach Strawberry flowers were coloring up the place. Mushroom-wise, I found a Blewit and Red Edge Brittlestem (?).

After my loop around the reservoir, I stayed with the GHOs a bit. Planned to stay til they flew off. And, they did. The female left first and headed up to the top of Strawberry Hill. The male left soon after, but he flew into a tree where I could still see him. Hooting away.

It was another lovely sunset up there. But, it was time to head home. On my way down the hill, I was lucky to have looked right randomly to see Rosy Conk (I think) on a log. I’ve only ever seen that before in the Secret Gardens. Yay!

As I was passing the Heron Rookery, where I counted four Great Blue Heron silhouettes, I heard one more hoot from the pair still high up on Strawberry Hill. After all this time of experiencing it, I still find such a comfort in hearing that whenever I make my way home.

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