Golden Gate Park (2/24/2022)

Today I went again to my backyard. And, for the second day in a row, I wore knee high socks and a scarf and wrist warmers and a hat. Winter is so fun!

On my To Do List, I wanted to revisit the AIDS Memorial Grove one more time (at least) for The Book. So, that was my primary goal. And wander around it. I don’t usually do the exact same route to start that I did the day before. But, I was curious if I’d see anything different in the Monarch Bear Grove on the way to the AIDS Memorial Grove. What must it be like for someone to always walk the same route every day?

Well, today something was different from yesterday. Today there were White-crowned Sparrows around a Blueblossom bush near the south entrance. Already, different from yesterday. All else in the area looked the same, but I got to where the trail meets the AIDS Memorial Grove, and I saw something NEW. Was that always there? It was definitely a newtome flora – Korean Spice Viburnum!?! That was the story Seek was pushing on me. WHAT? Anything Korean outside of the SFBG must be an incorrect ID. Right? I mean, that’s wacky. Definitely looked Viburnum-esque. Unfortunately, iNat is down for maintenance tonight. But, Google Photos also believes that’s what it is! Random!! It’s so easily out of view that I feel like it must be there by mistake.

At the AIDS Memorial Grove, Cuphea ignea ‘Starfire pink’ greeted me near the waterfall. I love all the ears on all the Cuphea I’ve ever seen. Not a whole lot else was going on around there. But, some Fuchsia microphylla were dangling, like they do. Then, I got to the flowering currant in the middle of the creek there. Now, when I first started my Naturing in the early days of the pandemic, I saw this flower. I believe Seek told me it was Pink-flowering Currant. Or, I IDed it some other way. But, it was my first ID. The flowers are a paler pink than Red-flowering Currant, which is in many other parts of GGPark. I’ve always meant to return when it’s flowering to do another ID to truly confirm it. Why was along the creek the only place I’ve seen it in the park? Is it just the pink shade that’s the difference?

So, I used Seek this time, and – Red-flowering Currant. I tried all kinds of angles – Red-flowering Currant. HUH! Perhaps it’s that. And, it’s paler pink than others because it’s entirely in shade all day? More work needs to be done to get to the bottom of this.

Continued down the creek, and I noticed a tree whose branch was seemingly wrapped around a redwood. It was so bizarre. Like it was hooking around it. Made me think it was trying to hug the redwood. And, given where I was, I entertained that imagery.

Some lovely Lenten-rose were drooping on my left. And above them, a small tree was growing on opposite sides of another tree’s trunk. Lots of tree hugging going on right there! Got to a spot where a memorial rock had a single blooming orchid next to it. A cluster of bulbs was planted (maybe some time ago?) right next to the rock. The orchid was lovely in pinks and purples, but it was past its prime. Wish I knew the story of this orchid planting. To my knowledge, there are no other orchids in the area. Or, in GGPark at all? And, how this one bloomed in a cold and dark place like that is kind of amazing.

Lots of flowers were blooming there since my last visit! Pale Pink-sorrel and Rock Crane’s-bill and newtome Oregon Iris (ID to be confirmed later, as I’ve never encountered this ID in GGPark before – I mean, how is it not Douglas Iris?), Meadow Crane’s-bill, white and purple Coastal Rosemary, and small Wild Daffodils. And, what looked like baby Red-cage Fungus balls were sitting patiently next to a rock wall ledge. One of them had a hole in the center. Red lattice is coming!

But, something truly exciting was waiting for me. San Francisco Wallflower! I’ve been hoping to see this once I learned it was a thing. I mean, how many flowers have SF in the name? I truly don’t believe it was here before. A group of volunteers works on the plantings on the north side, so maybe it’s the first year it’s blooming?? So happy to see it planted somewhere in GGPark!

I was admiring the Red-flowering Currant across the grass that was going bonkers, when I saw three Black-tailed Bumblebees about their business. They were tiny! Do bees change size significantly as they age? Are they generally smaller than Yellow-faced Bumblebees? Is that why they get crowded out by Yellow-faced Bumblebees? Gotta look all this up later.

Magnolias are blooming there right now, too. FYI.

Walked over to the Lily Pond, and something odd was happening. A BUNCH of American Robins were hanging out across the pond. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a robin there before. It was strange! There were so many! The usual suspects all seemed disturbed by this also, like the Anna’s Hummingbird and Yellow-rumped Warblers. I didn’t even see the Black Phoebe that’s usually there. JUST ODD.

The Mallard couple, three Hooded Mergansers, and Ring-necked Duck couple all didn’t seem to care.

Something else was odd about the place. I saw THREE instances of Wild Daffodil there. Never seen them there before! And, that’s something that’s hard not to notice! I know it’s not at all possible for me to know every dang flower in GGPark at this point, but COME ON. Where did those come from??

Before I left the Lily Pond, I saw a bird flying with two white patches on its wings. Acorn Woodpecker! It landed on the top of a super tall tree, which let me ID it. Seem to be seeing these more this year.

On my way to the Secret Gardens, I heard a bird singing. Dark-eyed Junco? Yes, it was! I’m so bad with remembering bird songs / calls that I get freakin’ giddy when I get one right. So, I got giddy.

Walked up Lila’s Hill to check in on the female Great Horned Owl. She was there, in a slightly different spot than usual. AND, the male GHO was in the same tree! Now, my understanding is that a GHO couple doesn’t roost in the same tree. Maybe until the Ma Owl is on the nest? So, this was interesting. I walked all around that crazy tall pine tree, and WHAT WAS THAT? A NEST! WE HAVE A NEST!!

It was difficult not to contain my joy at this discovery. DIFFICULT, I SAY! A couple ravens flew nearbyish, and I immediately put my binocs down and said, “Not looking at anything!” Not sure they heard me. Got a better and unobstructed view of one of them, as I wasn’t sure at this point which GHO was which since they were not easy to see in one view to compare sizes. And, some photos came out! Since the owl was pretty far, my old digital point-and-shoot camera did that thing I like where it looks like a painting when I’m done fiddling with the photo. It totally looks like one of those old paintings of a table with stuff on it and some random pheasant feathers are strewn across a bowl of over-ripened pomegranates or something. I dig it.

So, YEAH. GHO nest has been spotted perhaps?? Terribly compelling news today, I’d say!

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