Golden Gate Park (3/2/2022)

Today was not as planned. I HAD planned on visiting the North Lake area after making a quick stop to see a California Buckeye tree I read about in the Inner Richmond. This tree was apparently very old and insanely large and entirely beloved by the neighbors in the area. So much so, that these neighbors fought against anything being done to the tree when the house property it’s on was being sold. I believe what I read was that the house sale included a provision that the tree could not be harmed. Maybe ever?? Something very long-lasting like that! So, I had to see this tree. And, my photo of it does not do it justice. It looks like three trees. It sprawls the entire front of the property and even beyond it. It is now on par with my previously sole favorite buckeye tree in the SFBG. 2694 McAllister St., in case you’re curious.

Onto North Lake! It’d been a while, and I’ve been meaning to check in on the Great Horned Owls over there. But, I drove halfway there and saw immense fog rolling in. By the time I got to Chain of Lakes Drive, it was imminent that it would envelope the entire west side.

Love fog. But, not while Naturing.

So, I drove east through the park to try and figure out what my Plan B was. Was just at the Middle Loop. Metson Lake and the environs had the fog closing in on it. Was just at Stow Lake. Alrighty! Decided to just hang around the Lily Pond and Secret Gardens and see how those GHOs are doing. It will hopefully be raining tomorrow. And, Friday is supposed to be windy. So, this might be my last Naturing in GGPark/SF for this week??

I’ve never parked in the east side of the park before for my usual afternoon Naturing. Felt like such a tourist!

Thought I’d check ONE MORE TIME in the CAS Botanical Garden for any signs of Red-cage Fungus. Didn’t see any, but I couldn’t help but be intoxicated by the aroma of the blooming Blueblossom over there. Then, I heard and was able to find a hummingbird deep in an empty Red-berried Elder bush. Anna’s Hummingbird? Got a couple photos of it, and I’m realizing that for a bird that is seemingly constantly moving, I’ve gotten some decent to very nice photos of them as they actually do sit still often enough! Hear that, Warblers??

Headed up the path to the owl nursery. Haven’t been on that trail in forever! Took the back way along the south trail of the Lily Pond. All was quiet. Except for a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, fresh from eating eucalyptus flowers. And, the chattering of a large group of American Robins in the distance. Maybe that same group I saw before was higher up in the eucs and pines now? Sounded like it!

That new planting area near the south entrance is doing nicely! Blueblossom and Seaside Buckwheat and Redflower Buckwheat are all enjoying their new home right now. Across from it a Black-tailed Bumblebee was happily feasting on the large Blueblossom bush there. And, opposite the entrance trail, that Black Sage is still going strong. The lower half of that kind of salvia always makes me think of a cello. Am I alone in this?

Things at the Lily Pond were relatively calm. But, I caught sight of a squirrel eating Cherry-plum blossoms, which was neat. I’ve seen a number of creatures eating those lately. Guess they’re tasty in addition to looking pretty?

After being complimented for my Totoro backpack (I swear, a dime for every time!!), I headed to the Secret Gardens. It was about 5pmish. And, I heard the GHOs duet hooting on my approach. An hour before sunset! So, I went straight to Lila’s Hill, and there they were. Together in what is now their tree. While watching them, I was asked by a couple different people where the owl was. Every time I get asked this, it’s by someone without binoculars. And, it makes me wonder if they’ve ever seen one without binoculars before! I mean, it’s TOUGH if they’re up high like normal. Maybe this will encourage them all to get a pair. It’s infinitely more satisfying to see them with a pair!

Watched them preen for a bit. Then, I walked around to see them better from west of the tree, and they settled down for one more snooze. So, I strolled through the Secret Gardens, planning to return closer to sunset. Spotted some Blue Corn-lilies blooming where I’ve never seen them before. Noticed that the Dawn Redwoods are starting to sprout fresh and bright green leaves. My Dally Pine is doing really well with flowers right now. And, those dark purple/magenta Magnolias I’ve seen before were worth walking through the Rhododendron Dell for on my way back to the GHOs.

They had resumed hooting. And, I was able to watch the male owl out in the open from the Northwest side of the pine. The female was just above him. She always seems to be in a higher or slightly higher branch than him! Watched him hooting and even got some video! Saw him pulse his throat muscles or whatever covers the white cravat on him right after he finished hooting. Don’t think I’ve seen that before? Owl pics below for the owl fans.

She soon hopped down onto his branch, about a foot from him. And, she seemed to slightly move her head down. He hopped right up on top of her! And, they mated! And, as a prude, I’m shy to have to say that I watched this from behind them. So, I saw how the mechanics work when they do that! It’s actually impressive that it works at all. And, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

It was quick (as always), and he flew off immediately (as always) and soared Northwest and out of sight. So, my fave GHOs are still trying! She stayed. And ruffled her feathers a bit. I took one last look at her, and I thought fruitful wishes for them both this spring.

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