Golden Gate Park (2/15/2022)

Today I had planned to visit the magnolias (apparently in FULL BLOOM right now) in the SFBG. But, I forgot that last entry is still 4pm… Or, at least that’s what I thought from quickly checking the site on my phone. Looking at it now on my laptop, it now has a last entry of 5pm. Dangit! Ah, well. TOMORROW.

So, I decided to just STROLL. And to stroll through spots I haven’t been to in a while. I started on Whiskey Hill. And, I noticed a pine tree that looked like a Bishop Pine. Never noticed it before. Guess that’s where I’m at with GGPark now. I’m noticing individual TREES I haven’t noticed before. Jury is still out on what kind of pine. Will need to go back and get better pics.

Nearby, I realized that on the left were American Sweetgum trees. I had previously thought they were Bigleaf Maples like the ones on the right. NOPE. What WAS I thinking. The American Sweetgums still had colorful leaves here and there. The Bigleaf Maples had some dark brown leaves left with small bright green ones coming in. How foolish I used to be.

The Toyon there has flowers and berries right now. Our premature Spring is so bizarre. California Manroot, some bizarro mushroom on a tree (Shaggy Bracket?), and Black Sage (I think?) were all out on the hill.

I made my way to Alvord Lake. Hoary Rock-rose and Sierra Madre Lobelia added some color to the west side. Over on the east side, I saw some of the Exploratorium exhibit pieces, like the Barley exhibit. It had an example of what was done in the early days of the park development with barley grass to stabilize the sand dunes. Neat! No mention of William Hammond Hall being involved, so I’m sure everyone will assume it was McLaren’s doing. Hmph.

But, the “Park in Progress” exhibit was kind of neat. Made me think there could/should be a section in the park always devoted to the development of GGPark. Most people have no idea it was mostly sand dunes and what all went into making it what it is today.

Walking on, I saw some Manzanita near the new bocce ball court. Brittleleaf Manzanita? How’d I miss you before? The California Buckeye nearby are starting to show their pretty leaf clusters, too.

I walked the path leading to McLaren Lodge, and I saw the magnolia tree full with blooms ahead. I’d get to see magnolias after all! On the way, something that looked like but wasn’t quite Indian-shot was in full on RED MODE. Canna Lily of some kind. Will work on IDing that one…

Greater Honeywort was in bloom. Love those flowers. Right next to them, two Black-tailed Bumblebees were going bonkers on some Blueblossom blossoms. I tried but failed entirely on snapping a photo of them.

Behind the Lodge and Annex, some succulents were blooming on the succulent wall. Like, an Echeveria I can’t ID yet. Or is it Canyon Live-forever? Oh, and a newtome flower was also there – Santa Barbara Daisy! Might I have overlooked it before because I thought it was just a daisy?

I wanted to check the garden between McLaren Lodge / the Annex and the Oak Woodlands Trail. That area really needs a name… After finally IDing California Phacelia back in Tilden (that I had seen in a different form), I wanted to MAKE SURE that I was right on that. And, I WAS! California Phacelia was blooming right in that spot. I’m not the biggest fan of that flower’s aesthetic. But, hey. It’s native, and I believe it’s big with the pollinators. So.

A Bigleaf Maple tree over there had tons of green leaves and even SAMARA. Isn’t that supposed to come out in LATE SUMMER??

I took the Oak Woodlands Trail back to JFK. I was curious what state the beehive stump was in. That Laetiporus on top is larger and more decayed and so bizarre-looking. Couple bees going in and out. Still no door.

At the Lily Pond, some Creeping Buttercup and Rose-of-Sharon were brightening up the place. I looked for the reported Pacific Hound’s Tongue there again. Didn’t find it. But, I saw some Green Alkanet. And, that’s in many places in that area. And, it kind of looks like PHT. Hm! Is it possible that RESEARCH GRADE ID on iNat is wrong?? I double-checked it when I got home, and I believe it’s Green Alkanet. I actually “Disagreed” with the ID and suggested Green Alkanet. I deserve such a smackdown if I’m wrong. Who do I think I am??

Over at the pond itself, things were looking good! The pond was nice and clear of debris. But, just a Mallard couple and two Ring-necked Duck couples were enjoying it. I noticed that the large monster of hedge looking over the pond has a buddy right behind him! How could I have missed it?? They look like two HUGE gorillas. Am I the only one that sees that?

A Fox Sparrow was just chilling out in the open. And, I heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the blackberry over there, and I saw a yellow bird where I thought I heard the sound from. But, that was no Ruby-crowned Kinglet! It was an Orange-crowned Warbler! Best looks ever at it, and I must say it’s not a very exciting bird to look at. But, I was happy to get some photos of it. It was no easy task, let me tell you.

East of the pond, high up in the eucs, a crow gathering was going on. It was SO LOUD. At one point, it reminded me of what you see on tv or in movies of British government types in wigs that all shout at and over each other. A crow even spoke all by itself as the others paused their noise. Guess it had the floor! They all soon resumed their order of business. And, it was all I could imagine from then on.

Then, a COYOTE HOWLING was heard from west of the pond. It was SO LOUD. And, maybe there were two coyotes howling?? I figured I’d go a different way to the Secret Gardens, so I took the south trail up. A woman coming the other direction warned me that she had just passed a large coyote where I was headed. Hm! I thanked her, and I made sure I made good noises as I walked that trail. No sign of any coyotes.

On my way to Lila’s Hill to see about the owls, I spotted a familiar flower. It was something I’d seen before elsewhere in the Secret Gardens but wasn’t able to ID. Seek told me it was Guelder-Rose. And, so far it looks to be right! So nice to knock another flower out of my Flickr album, “Flora-tbd!” And, I quite like those cute flowers.

On top of the hill, the female Great Horned Owl was in her usual spot. I watched her preening and getting ready for her night. I even saw her do the long leg and wing stretch. Both sides. And, that one where they hunch up both wings into an angel shape. Love all their moves.

No hooting, but she flew over me and into another pine across the paved path. Got to see her better there. But, it was still too dark to get any photos in focus. Sorry, owl fans.

She turned her head around all of a sudden, and the male GHO somewhere above me started hooting. She followed soon after. I couldn’t see the male above me, but she then flew right into the tree and above me and next to the male! He was there the whole time!

They hooted together, then flew off (one by one) to a euc. The moon had come up, and it was dang bright. Not full technically until tomorrow, but DANG! So bright! Maybe the coyotes were anticipating it?

It was pretty satisfying to see and hear both of my favorite GHOs to end my Naturing time. They hooted as I headed home. Comforting exit music. Always.

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