Golden Gate Park (2/25/2022)

Today I walked around Stow Lake. And, I found I had a creature-filled day and hardly noticed any flowers. Quite unusual for me!

First of all, it was a warmer day than the past two days. Easily. And, I started an hour earlier than my recent usual. Maybe that’s why I saw TWO butterflies along MLK on my way to Stow Lake?? I never see butterflies! Don’t think I’ve ever seen them along MLK! First caught sight of a Red Admiral. Then, maybe 10 feet away from it, I spotted a West Coast Lady. Both kindly sat still long enough for me to take photos. So kind! And, so lovely to see them.

Up at Stow Lake, I saw some new behavior from the Northern Shovelers. I saw them head bopping! Like I’ve seen Mallards do! And, making sounds while they did it! AND, I saw one of the males harassing other Northern Shovelers. So weird! I’ve pretty much only seen them shoveling, sleeping, and preening. So, this was A SHOW.

Also got to see some Ruddy Ducks. And, YET AGAIN, I was unable to get any decent photos of the males. BOO. I really need to see them on a cloudy day or in the shade someday.

Spotted an adorable Short-billed Gull that was hanging in a mixed group. Love their short bills! Right near it, I caught a quick view of a Mallard couple mating. Right in broad daylight! Don’t think I’ve ever seen that before? SPRING IS COMING.

At the Japanese Honeysuckle spot, I took a seat on the long bench there just to watch all the birds on the lake. It was just that kinda day. A female Mallard had come up from the lake and onto the ground, hoping for food. Then, out of nowhere, a Hooded Merganser popped up from where she came. I HAVE NEVER SEEN THEM OUT OF WATER BEFORE! I was SHOCKED. That’s what their feet look like??

An older woman, who also was there watching the birds, delighted in seeing it out of the water, as well. This male was entirely preoccupied with PREENING LIKE THERE WAS NO TOMORROW. I couldn’t believe how long it preened for. We watched it. Others stopped to watch it. It felt like HOURS. The older woman remarked that maybe it had gotten something on its feathers that was difficult to get off. I had remarked that they are typically quite shy, but this one was a mere 8 feet from people walking by. She asked me, “Come here often?” Yeah, I’m one of THEM.

She also commented on how widespread its legs were, in comparison to the female Mallard close-by. So glad she shared that with me, as I had not noticed that!

It was a sight to behold. They always look like they’re wearing bustles to me, so it mostly looked like it was fixing its dress that was just NOT RIGHT. Wish I had taken video. It was so fun to watch. At some point, the female Mallard nearby (who was kind of also watching the show?) waddled back to the lake. And, the Hooded Merganser quickly followed. END OF SHOW.

I rounded the Southwest corner, and I saw a Steller’s Jay high up on the tallest end of a bare tree branch on the small island there. I stood as close to it as I could get, just admiring it. Haven’t seen one out in the open in a while. It was nice.

Took a quick sniff of heavenly Sagewood (gawd, I must look like such a weirdo a lot of the time), and then I saw one of those pastel-colored Domestic Mallards behind a male Mallard and maybe female (?) pastel-colored Domestic Mallards, who were head-bopping with each other! WHAT! The presumed male chased off the other. I’ve seen this pastel couple together before, with a male Mallard close-by. There is an entire story there…

I stopped to look at some Willow catkins, and a Steller’s Jay flew right onto the branch in front of me. Like, maybe 4 feet from me?? It stood on the branch and LOOKED at me. I thought, was this the other Steller’s Jay I saw earlier? Was it ensuring I was able to get better views/photos of it here?? I so thoroughly enjoyed watching it in front of me. Then, it was gone. Magical encounters, I tell ya.

Not far past it, I heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in a Cherry-plum tree next to me. It was maneuvering quite impressively around and into the blossoms! Stopped to watch it for a while. It got pretty close to me! Love when they do that! I have a special fondness for them, and not just because they’re frickin’ cute as all get out. I have had many instances where they are hopping around in a tree super close to me. And don’t seemingly mind me so close. It’s special. Walking slowly and quietly is so key to such things.

THEN, soon after I walked away a huge bumblebee almost flew right into my face! WHAT WAS HAPPENING?? Something was going on over on the west side today.

Approaching the ugly bridge, I heard a hummingbird. Took a while to find it, but I did. Now, this was not an Anna’s. This looked A LOT like what I saw two days ago on the Pioneer Trail. I had thought, because of Seek and Google Photos, that it was a Rufous Hummingbird. And, I also thought that because I don’t know that I’ve seen such a colorful Allen’s Hummingbird before. So, I thought maybe it wasn’t that.

HOWEVER, Bob believed it was an Allen’s. And, someone on iNat agreed it was a Rufous. Compared descriptions of markings, and I was at a loss. They are REALLY SIMILAR. But, I got some decent photos of this one. Unfortunately, no images of its back. And, all ID help pointed to Allen’s. Got home, and someone else on iNat suggested Allen’s for that “Rufous.” AND, this one bee-lined straight for the Pioneer Trail when it left me.

SO. Allen’s. But, I don’t mind it wasn’t what I thought. Glad to learn the two can look so similar. And, I never regret time spent with a hummingbird. So, there!

Had time to walk up Strawberry Hill, so I did. Pretty quiet there today. A Dark-eyed Junco let me stop in front of it to take its picture. And, there’s more Common Yarrow at the new planting spot opposite the reservoir. No sign of the owls.

Was on my way back down, and I heard faint hooting. It’s nuts how it’s SO DIFFICULT to tell where hoots come from when it’s still daylight out. Unfortunately, I had to get back for an early happy hour so I wasn’t able to find where that couple is now. Next time.

On my walk back along the lake, I took one last look at the Great Blue Heron rookery. And, two GBHs were nesting on the other tree. WHAT! Neat! Watched for a bit, then the one on the nest flew off. Then a male GBH from the main nest tree flew over to chase the other off. Then, ANOTHER GBH from the main nest tree flew over to chase IT off! What was happening??

All in all, a very creature-filled day with some close encounters of the flying kind! It was a Good Friday, folks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: