Golden Gate Park (2/2/2022)

Today I visited my backyard. I’ve been waiting for the time when I can resume the research I began last winter when I tried documenting and IDing blossoms (primarily, Prunus). And, IT IS TIME. Maybe you’ve noticed it, too? Blossoms ARE HAPPENING. Yeah, I saw indicators weeks back, but those trees were really confused. This timing is a bit more reasonable. So, I’m taking note and trying to get better at IDing them, especially in GGPark for The Book.

I’d like to include one Prunus blossom tree in The Book. They’re all so lovely and signify Spring coming soon. But, IDing them is not easy. So many look so alike. And, there are many cultivars. I’m hoping to complete my work this year and be done with it!

Lucky me, there are two kinds of these trees across from my apartment. Two are a Purple-leaf Plum, and two are Kanzan Cherry. The Purple-leaf Plum is going bonkers right now. And, nothing’s happening on the Kanzan Cherry trees. It’s so convenient (and pretty) to have prime specimens right outside my front door. So, I’ve already got the Purple-leaf Plum down. But, there are so so many more to go…

As part of this research, I planned to check on what blossoms were out at Stow Lake. My suspicion is that there are four types. But, it’s a work in progress.

On the way there, I started out through Monarch Bear Grove, where blooming Rosemary are the brightest spots right now. I briefly disturbed some White-crowned Sparrows (that always seem to be in that exact place lately) when I inspected one of the few Gum Rock-rose flowers near them. But, they soon forgave me. I think.

I felt like walking through the CAS Botanical Garden, for no particular reason. So, I did! And, I was rewarded with watching a Black-tailed Bumblebee nosing in each and every Yankee Point Ceanothus flower cone. So. WORTH IT. Also there is Purple Sage and my beloved Cheeseweed Mallow out. The latter is one of the first flowers I fell in love with during our initial GGPark outings. I adore the flower. It’s one of the few flowers whose scientific name I remember, Malva Parviflora. So much nicer than the common name that iNat uses.

After watching some Western Honey Bees doing their thing on some Pride of Madeira, I got up to Stow Lake and started documenting some blossoms.

The Heron Lady was handing out flyers for her heron watching dates. All nests had Great Blue Herons in them. And, one was even sitting/laying in the nest! WHOA!! So, she’ll have plenty to show those interested with her scope on the weekends. If you’re intrigued and would like to know more, lemme know!

FOR ONCE, a male Northern Shoveler wasn’t napping or shoveling on the lake. So, I took the opportunity to do a photo shoot with my unsuspecting subject. I don’t have many, and maybe even any, good photos of them. But, today I got some I am happy with.

A Black Phoebe and a Hooded Merganser also obliged me with a photo op!


I took the pretty bridge onto Strawberry Hill, and I walked along the east garden. There are CALLA LILIES FOR DAYS over there right now. I peeked in a couple, wondering if I might get lucky and find a Goldenrod Crab Spider (or, any spider?) inside. And, FOUND ONE! It was a dark colored spider and was buried way deep inside, so I can’t be sure. Ren, do other spiders hang out in Calla Lilies?

Sat at one of the benches near the waterfall for a snack break. I got some better views of the GBHs on the rookery island from there. And, though a squirrel did its best to charm me, I denied it any of my snack. OF COURSE.

I crossed the ugly bridge and headed to the Pioneer Trail, when I heard HOOTING. From up on Strawberry Hill. Both of the Great Horned Owls of Stow Lake were hooting back and forth. It was only 4:56pm! They were pretty early! As tempted as I was to go find them, as is always my instinct, I stayed on target.

I finally stopped to enjoy the blooming African Hemp that lines the road on the north side. Glad I did that.

All was quiet on the Pioneer Trail. I confirmed the Kanzan Cherry trees along the trail are also not blooming yet. And, I was able to watch a Ruby-crowned Kinglet somewhat chilling in a bare tree. Tried to get photos, but it’s so so difficult. Had I had more light right then, maybe??

Just past the Fairy Door, I heard a Pacific Wren doing its nutso R2D2-on-crack sounds. Wish I could’ve seen it, but nope. And, I had to move on.

Next up was the Lily Pond. I can’t remember how or why, but I bookmarked a spot where Pacific Hound’s Tongue had a research grade ID on iNat. It was somewhere in the Tree Fern Dell. And, I haven’t seen that before! It’s almost disturbing to me that there are flowers in GGPark I haven’t seen yet. Couldn’t find it. Will need to keep that bookmark and try again in the spring.

I did find blooming Cape Honey Flower, though. And, I’ve suspected I’d be seeing them soon as I’ve been watching their leaves get larger and taller in recent weeks. Also, blooming Cuphea ‘Minnie Mouse’ was showing its cute self. The Lily Pond was pretty empty. Just a Mallard couple and a Ring-necked Duck couple. Is the early spring weather motivating wintering birds to get a move on?

I managed (SOMEHOW) to avoid the swarms of mosquitoes on my way to the Secret Gardens. And, turning the corner onto the main path, I heard HOOTING. This time, it sounded like both hoots were coming from the tree on the hill. That’s where I’ve heard and seen the female GHO before. I really need to name that hill… I was able to spot them quickly, as the female happened to be turning around right when I looked at her spot.

The male soon flew off and toward the Lily Pond. They always seem to fly that direction and glide so low, as if they would land on a trail or something. Just once, I’d love to be on the other side where they end up when they do that.

Got to watch Ma Owl do her long leg stretching and took some crap photos of her. It was dark. She was high up. So it goes. Crap photos for the owl fans below. Watched her fly over to a euc and hang out on a branch for a bit. She continued preening. I took a couple steps to my left, looked back up, and she was gone. They are NINJAS.

It’s not often I hear/see both pairs of the Great Horned Owls on this side of the park on the same day. In fact, I think it’s only happened once before? So, yeah. GOOD OWL DAY, folks.

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