Golden Gate Park (2/28/2022)

Today I did the Middle Loop: Mallard Lake, The Oasis, and Elk Glen Lake. Had some gaps to fill for The Book!

The first to greet me at Mallard Lake was a Pied-billed Grebe and a couple Mallards. Things were calm, as usual, out on that lake. Though, there were more turtles out on rocks and branches than I’ve ever seen there before. And, some of the European Carp were downright FEISTY!

The lake looked on the low side. I’d notice later the same thing about Elk Glen Lake. Anticipating that rain forecast on Thursday?

As for flora, Field Marigolds (first time seeing them here!), Trailing Blackberry, and California Buckeye leaf cups were enjoying the sunshine. And, for fauna, a decent amount of birds! Seemed like it was the noisiest I’ve maybe ever heard it on that trail? Anna’s and Allen’s Hummingbirds, American Robins, Dark-eyed Juncos, Hermit Thrush, and even a Wilson’s Warbler! Did they all also know the cooler temps to come this week?

Got to the waterfall and creek end, and HOO-BOY! Lots of Allen’s Hummingbird action! Watched one having a bath at the waterfall. Watched two chase around for A WHILE. Watched one sit over his spot. Watched one bathing again later! I really might need to look into upgrading my super old point-and-shoot digital camera. It doesn’t do so great in low light or with hummingbirds.

Also, a couple Hooded Mergansers appeared on the East side. Caught sight of a male with the sunlight behind him, and the white part of his hood looked practically see-through! That was a trip.

Almost the entire time I was there, I could hear a Red-shouldered Hawk crying from The Oasis. That hawk is there like 75% of the time I am, I think! And, found it in its favorite tree. Cry-cry-crying!

The Oasis looked lovely with the sun out. Best time to visit The Oasis is with sunshine or rain. Not a WHOLE lot new there, but Pale Pink-Sorrel seemed pretty happy. A magnolia tree I don’t remember seeing in bloom before, Magnolia ‘Black Tulip,’ had gorgeous cups out. Should go back soonish just to see those open.

Also saw a couple newtome flora, Kawakawa (I am not making that up) and Aechmea caudata (yes, it desperately needs a common name). And, Star Magnolia is blooming there again. Some parts of it look a little run-down. Hopefully SF Rec and Parks can give it a bit of love soon.

Over at Elk Glen Lake, I arrived at the large collection of Twinberry Honeysuckle bushes. And, I couldn’t believe how many birds I saw right there. Allen’s Hummingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, House Finch, and a sparrow I couldn’t ID (or get photos of). If it wasn’t so hard to see them through the branches, it’d be a fantastic spot to bird.

And, that Twinberry Honeysuckle is still blooming! And producing fruit!!

A larger than usual number of Mallards were on the lake, along with an American Coot and some Pied-billed Grebes. Red-winged Blackbirds were making their noises across the way in the reeds. Golden-crowned Sparrows were on the ground. And, a couple Yellow-rumped Warblers hung out above them. I also heard tons of bird noises there, too. Must feel like spring to them, too.

Common Correa brightened up the Northeast corner. And, walking past the Fairy Door, I saw a tiny picnic table made of wood near it. A formal-looking paint job on the tabletop said, “PARKS & REC, SQUIRRELS & FAIRIES, PICNIC AREA.” I love each and every one of those folks that contribute to the fairy world in GGPark.

The end of my Naturing time was DRAMATIC. After passing the Fairy Door, I saw a raptor fly over and around and out of sight into a eucalyptus tree. And, about ten feet later, I caught sight of another one doing the same. Except, this one landed in a euc I could see. A Red-tailed Hawk! It looked to where the other raptor went, and it lowered its head. Then, the other raptor (Red-tailed Hawk) flew right over and on top of her! First time seeing Red-tailed Hawks mating! WOW!

She made some noises during the act, then he hopped off and hung out a couple feet from her on the same branch. They both fixed their feathers and shook their tails. But, they remained there together. Just hanging out. Very different from owls!

Guess the longer I do this the more likely I’ll see more mating behavior? I mean, I don’t MEAN TO WATCH. But, it’s interesting to know when certain birds are doing their business time. I also haven’t seen a pair of Red-tailed Hawks there before, so that is super neato. They must nest nearby! And, that’s pretty close to the Red-shouldered Hawk of The Oasis! Hopefully there’s room for everyone in GGPark. I like to think there is.

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