Golden Gate Park (3/14/2022)

Today I FINALLY went to North Lake! It actually wasn’t foggy as I drove out there. Whew!

This is the last week of official Winter. I thought maybe I needed another location check for The Book, but NOPE! I’ve done all my Winter research. Ahhhh.

However. Due to Daylight Savings Time, it will now be tough to see the owls. Sunset is an hour later allofasudden. It’s now very much when dinner is going on for me. So begins the Dark Days, oddly enough, for me. An Owl Witch. I’ll definitely see owls less until the owlets come. Not only do I lose an hour of time, but I also feel sleep-deprived for a week AND have less opportunity to see owls. ESPECIALLY Barn Owls now. WANH.

Okokok. Enough whining.

I’ve been eager to check in on the Great Horned Owls of the Bison Paddock. Of the Chain of Lakes? Still not sure what to call them. So, I parked near their tree. No sign of them. But, the sun was totally in my eyes, so it was difficult. Then, A HOOT. WHAT?? It was like 3:15pmish! Sunset was hours away. Despite my utter confusion at this timing (did their clocks change, too?), I was FRICKIN’ DELIGHTED. In some cuckoo way, I felt like one hooted for me. To let me know it was there. Yep, those are the kinds of thoughts I have when I’m out Naturing.

Still had trouble finding it, though. Tried all possible shady spots, but I couldn’t see it. I got so frustrated at being blinded by the sun that I set my binocs down and just looked up for a second. THERE IT WAS. Owl Witches don’t need binocs!

Lucky for me, it moved a little. So, I was able to catch it. Just one that I could see. Very high up and well hidden. I parked near it, so I’d be back at the end of my Naturing to check in again. Yay.

Stopped by the Chain of Lakes Garden. On the way there, I heard SUCH BIRD SOUNDS. This is a running theme lately. It’s like all the birds are all chatterboxes right now. It’s awesome. Especially when you can ID some birds by sound! Like me!

The garden still looked like it was enjoying Winter, for the most part. But, Pale Pink-sorrel greeted me upon my arrival. Some Red-flowering Currant was still hanging on. And, Hummingbird Sage was a sight to see. Those smaller daffodils were here and there. And, California Phacelia was definitely OUT and had many admirers, like Yellow-faced Bumblebees and Western Honey Bees and a fly I couldn’t ID.

Blueblossom and Wartleaf Ceanothus greeted me out of the garden. A woodpecker I couldn’t find drummed away high up in a euc. And, Cultivated Tobacco and Ocean Spray led my way to North Lake.

Almost got to the South entrance, and I heard an interesting bird sound. Best guess from the help of the Merlin app’s Sound ID feature is Townsend’s Warbler! Need to listen to all of their calls later. While getting that sound recording, I noticed a Fox Sparrow on the ground near me. Stomping away on the dirt and looking for a meal. Such a treat that it didn’t mind me standing so close.

At North Lake, I spotted a Wild Daffodil randomly amongst the ivy. I honestly had no idea how many of them were scattered in GGPark. The lake looked pretty full of algae in that Southwest corner. And, more empty of birds than usual.

After observing that, I heard a raptor sound. Merlin believed it was a Cooper’s Hawk, which made total sense as it didn’t sound like a Red-tailed Hawk or Red-shouldered Hawk. And, the only other raptor I’ve seen in the Chain of Lakes area is a Cooper’s Hawk. It was so high up, in a euc. So, I didn’t get great looks or decent photos. But, I enjoyed watching it preen with my binocs. I’ve never seen one preen before, I think?

Back on the main path, Three-cornered Garlic was super happy on the left side among the grasses. And, it looked so lovely on both sides of a random side trail that I had to capture it. Yeah, I’m pretty partial to Three-cornered Garlic flowers.

Yellow-rumped Warblers were soon above me and directed my attention to Cedar Waxwings over on the island, gobbling up something in those Alder trees. First time seeing them this year, woo!

Some fresh Cherry Laurel near the bridge was nice to see and smell. Super tiny bugs on a large Calla Lily was a bizarre sight. Will need to consult Octodrone for that one. Just past it, I walked closer to the lake to see if any Black-crowned Night-Herons were in their usual spots. NONE! It’s sad when they’re not there. But, an Allen’s Hummingbird (that perhaps didn’t realize I was so close to it) sat still for me to see well with my naked eye until it realized I was there and flew off. Then, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet came closer and let me watch it for a bit. Love how they always seem to do that for me.

Was about to round the Northwest corner, and I saw that they cleared a massive tree that fell into the lake during the December rains. It’s now a big empty space all the way to the lake. And, that corner, once entirely protected, is super exposed after the clearing. Maybe that’s why the BCNHs are gone? Or, is it just time for them to have left?

That random tree I think might be a Peach tree has some blossoms on it. But, tons of weeds and whatnots are now blocking me from it! Got to check in on that again later.

Went down past the metal cage to see if any BCNHs were on the opposite side of the lake. NOPE. But, that gorgeous orange Japanese Carp swam into my view. It’s so fun to see it. Right at that spot was another nexus of insane bird chatterings.

Moving on, Red-winged Blackbirds were calling as I rounded the Northeast corner. Not many birds there, but that Japanese Carp had followed me and was there!

Stopped at the prime viewing area, and some Ring-necked Ducks were eager to meet me. But, a different duck was with them. Must’ve been female. Mostly brown, with a white patch near her beak. A man came down to also see. He looked at me and said, “Ring-necked Ducks” as he looked out at them on the lake. “Yeah, I know,” I replied, indicating the binocs in my hands. He smiled with an “Of course” look on his face.

He asked my name then gave me his, which I’ve now forgotten, of course. We then chatted about that different duck. He used his phone to consult, and he came back with “Lesser Scaup.” Wacky! Feel pretty safe to say I’ve never seen a female Lesser Scaup in GGPark before. Neat!

He left, and I stayed a bit to watch the Bufflehead pair dive and come up and dive and come up and so on. Love to see the water droplets on their mostly black heads. Then, I couldn’t help but notice that dang Japanese Carp swimming up to me! I think it has a crush on me. But, it was time to move on.

Arroyo Willow catkins were lovely to see on my way to the Southeast corner. I then had to stop and admire one of the many ginormous eucalyptus trees along the path right there. They are MASSIVE there. And, I just had to appreciate it. Must be so old to be THAT BIG? Or, is it a different kind of eucalyptus from the primary ones in GGPark? Whatever it is, it is impressive. And, photogenic.

Heard hummingbird noises, so I made one last stop and walked toward the water to see if I could find them. There were a handful. One Anna’s Hummingbird, sitting quietly on a small tree’s branch. And, two Allen’s Hummingbirds, wildly chasing each other. I am just fascinated by hummingbirds. I have to stop and look for them and at them all the time.

Didn’t have time for Middle Lake, but I made my final stop back at the owl tree before heading home. The female GHO (guessing it was female, as it just seemed particularly large) was nearish where she was before. With the sun a bit further down, I was able to keep my eye on where she was to walk over for a better view. And, I got it. She was preening. I even got some decentish shots of her preening those insane claws. Owl pics for the owl fans below.

So, yeah. I was able to beat the fog and visit one of the GHOs out there today! SUCCESS! Despite being there early. It helps that she wanted me to know she was there. I glady accept the kindness of the owls.

2 thoughts on “Golden Gate Park (3/14/2022)

  1. Just wanted to say thank you for posting this today. Nothing in particular about this post, but it’s just nice to read about you living your best naturalist life out there!

    Liked by 1 person

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