The Presidio (4/6/2022)

Today I went to try and find the Coastal Green Hairstreak.

I tried (not too hard) to see this small green butterfly last year and failed. It’s TOUGH for me to go out on in the middle of a warm and sunny day. Even for butterflies. But, I REALLY wanted to see this one. There’s even a Coastal Green Hairstreak Corridor in my neighborhood, where it often is. There are efforts to plant what it likes there. There are TOURS for it there. So, I’ve been pretty interested. Also, it’s so pretty!

I’ve got my iNat notifications set up for it, and it’s been spotted lately. A handful of observations have been at El Polin Spring, and I’ve been curious to visit again, so that was The Plan. Especially with the weather today, seemingly perfect for butterflies.

I arrived at the Presidio Wall Playground, and my first checkbox was seeing if the Barn Owls were around. NOPE. Someone has put up wire in that house’s alcoves so no bird can go in there. WHOA! Guess the house will be demolished soon? The ONE place I knew to find Barn Owls is now no more. BOO.

After that check, I spotted a BURSTING Dally Pine mixed in with the garden alongside the ballfield. It was on steroids or something! And smelled amazing. That’s a good Dally Pine right there. So glad I know it exists now!

I took my first steps onto the dirt trail to El Polin, and a small bluish (?) butterfly whizzed past me. And, OUT OF SIGHT. I took it as a good omen.

After noticing a couple Pacific Asters, I approached a sunny patch of grasses and Blueblossom. And, it was like every single flying insect pollinator was swarming El Polin or something! It almost confused me, how many flies and bees and bumblebees zoomed past me and above me and around me and almost into my face. WOW!

THEN, I saw it. A small greenish butterfly flitted quickly above the grasses, and it LANDED low on a plant about FOUR FEET FROM ME. I slowly reached for my camera, and as someone started approaching, the butterfly was GONE. But, I knew it was the Coast Green Hairstreak! I spotted it no more than five minutes into my quest!! I stuck around for a bit, hoping it’d return. But, it didn’t. Then, a Variable Checkerspot came in from the tennis court (??) and landed briefly on a bit of grass. Before I could get my camera in place, it was GONE.

So, this is kind of normalish for me and butterflies. It’s NOT EASY. Generally. I then took this to be more of a realistic omen for my day.

On my walk down to the spring, Orange Bush Monkeyflower and Douglas Iris and Twinberry Honeysuckle and Western Blue-Eyed Grass all welcomed me. An Allen’s Hummingbird was perched high on the tippy top of a tree branch somehow. And, another Variable Checkerspot teased me into thinking it’d stop for me. It didn’t.

Got to the spring, and a Vivid Dancer flew into my view and next to the spring to pose on the ground. So nice! Then, ANOTHER Variable Checkerspot flitted about closer to me but never landed. This was starting to get ANNOYING, but another (or the same?) Variable Checkerspot flew in calmly and LANDED IN FRONT OF ME. It was on a blackberry flower and sat on it for a while. FINALLY!

Moving on, I got to the raised boardwalk. And, there was another Coastal Green Hairstreak!! It LANDED! Got some ok photos of it. Yeah, still figuring out my new camera… But, YAY! Newtome butterfly! And, SUCH A LOVELY GREEN. Like what I imagine Caribbean waters look like.

Walked up the staircase toward the Ecology Trail, and I heard NOISES. A large group of Cedar Waxwings were going to town on Cotoneaster berries! It was super fun watching them grab them into their beaks and chow down.

A small dog slowly walked up the staircase and hung out with me where I was standing. It’s odd. In general, dogs have two reactions to me while I’m Naturing. If they’re off-leash. Either they entirely gravitate toward me for some reason unknown to them, or they are really freaked out by me. Once, a dog (off-leash) jumped up onto me from behind while I was in GGPark. Its owner said something like, “He thinks your [Totoro] backpack is an animal.” Since then, I’ve always suspected that it was my Totoro backpack that made dogs nervous. Then, I thought maybe some dogs like Totoro and some don’t. And, THAT’s what’s going on. Now that my Totoro backpack is out of commission (until my strap is fixed), I should pay attention to see if dogs react differently. So far, they’re not freaking out. Hm!

Anyhoo, I looked down the staircase and spotted what looked like an Anise Swallowtail gently gliding above the meadow but never landing. I gave up on seeing it land, and I continued upward.

Got close to the Ecology Trail, and some Variable Checkerspots were about. One even seemed to follow me a little? Arrived at the trail and turned left. Right up ahead were the iNat observation locations for the Coastal Green Hairstreak. Figured I’d check there.

No CGHs, but A TON of Variable Checkerspots! On both sides! I don’t even know how many. SO MANY. One even flew in front of me and landed, as if to ensure that I saw how gorgeous it was.

On the West side of the trail, massive amounts of California Goldfields were showing off how well they’re named. Newtome flower!

Felt like I had seen my share of butterflies for the day, so I headed back. Right before I got to the raised boardwalk, I spotted a yellow warbler popping in and around a Coast Live Oak. Orange-crowned Warbler! Easily, the best looks and longest time I’ve ever spent with one. Love that bright yellow eyeshadow stripe they have. Someday I hope to see that orange-crown…

After leaving in my car, I stopped to take in a super zen moment of watching blossoms fall from two delightfully full trees. Watching blossoms float down off trees is very much a favorite thing of mine.

I made one stop on the way home. A fruitless attempt to find a Great Horned Owl supposedly laying on eggs in a euc near the Presidio Cemetary. Sometimes an iNat observation location is SO NOT HELPFUL.

But, today was absolutely A WIN. Finally saw the Coast Green Hairstreak and didn’t have to work hard at all for it, woo!!

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