Today I visited my backyard.
I am ashamed to admit I didn’t go out yesterday because of the wind and cold. Now, I like cold. I really do. Especially when it’s sunny out. There’s a lovely briskness in the wintry air when those two things collide. But, wind is another matter. For those reading this that are not in the Bay Area, it’s been absolutely chilly lately. I believe yesterday, with the wind, it felt in the upper ’30s. That “feels like” temp plus the wind was a dealbreaker for me. Cold, I can handle. Wind makes the birds hide away. And, it makes it difficult to take photos. So, I stayed home.
But, the wind was in check today, thankfully. Had a finite 2 hours, so I planned for doing the greatest hits.
Have been meaning to get a little more data on Monarch Bear Grove for Winter, so that was the first stop. First thing to greet me were bumblebees (both Black-tailed and Yellow-faced!) on the fragrant Blueblossom. Checked in on some Cherry-plum blossoms there, noticed California Manroot and Rosemary blooming, and took some photos of a gall I need a confirmed iNat ID of – Live Oak Apple Gall Wasp?
I thought MAYBE with the tiny bits of rain we got the night before and last night that MAYBE there’d be some mushrooms out?? Turns out, nope. Or, at least I didn’t catch any new ones. Perhaps tomorrow or the next day? Is a tiny bit of rain enough?
Walked along the Shakespeare Garden (East side), and it looks like they’ll be doing plantings along that side of the small meadow south of it. Nice! Right near there, I caught sight of some strange growths on a Coast Live Oak. Not sure if I’ll get help with that on iNat, but I’d like to know what the heck it is!
The grove of blossom trees next to the Japanese Tea Garden has a bunch of Wild Daffodils now. Before my Pandemic Naturalist persona, these would be signs of Spring coming to me. I’d see them along 280 to and from work. I now know many other flowers that are the Winter to Spring transitioners. And, it was nice to reflect on how much I know now.
There were more squirrels at Squirrel Central than I have ever seen before. And, the Squirrel Lady wasn’t even there. It was a somewhat disturbing scene.
Up at Stow Lake, everything appeared to be normal, Winter-wise. I stopped at the Great Blue Heron rookery, and I looked up JUST IN TIME to see a GBH fly in with a large twig/branch in his mouth, hand it over to the GBH waiting in a nest, and watch her put it where it needed to be. I love that I’ve been able to see that twice now! Also spotted a GBH laying down in a nest. Things are happening…
Hopped onto the Pioneer Trail, and I saw flowering Red-berried Elder! Don’t think I’ve seen that there before! That little spot between the Log Cabin and the West end of the Pioneer Trail is truly special. I don’t think many people know that.
I took time to walk in that little open space just down the hill to watch an Anna’s Hummingbird. And, behind me a Pacific Wren frantically started calling! Are there more of them calling lately or what?
Continued down the trail a little, and I saw a hummingbird with orangeish coloring. Allen’s Hummingbird! I was able to take photos of it at its various resting spots, but many didn’t come out in focus. It’s not an easy task. THEN, it started doing this U-shape swooping thing! And, while doing this, its neck was crazy bright red!! It was terribly exciting.
HOWEVER, it wasn’t an Allen’s Hummingbird. Got home, and my ID apps pointed to RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD! So, I’ve only seen this hummingbird once before. That I know of… It was early in the pandemic, and it was in the SFBG. So, I was thrilled I got to spend so much time watching a Rufous Hummingbird and also got some decent photos of it. HIGHLIGHT, INDEED.
I spent so much time with the Rufous Hummingbird that I didn’t have time for an additional stop. So, I luxuriated along the Pioneer Trail. Heard and spotted a handful of Yellow-rumped Warblers and a beauty of a Townsend’s Warbler along the Historic Trees path. Took in all the blossoms at the East end of the trail. And, I ended at the Fairy Door, which was adorned with what seemed to me to be the most adornments ever.
Last thing I noticed were some blooming Purple Foxgloves along MLK. As they’re one of my favorite flowers, it was a delightful end to my Naturing. Yes, I have SO MANY favorite flowers at this point. But, it’s still an exclusive list in my opinion!