Golden Gate Park (4/13/2022)

Today I got to go Naturing! I had to focus on something else in the afternoons earlier this week, but today I was able to get outside. So grateful.

I wasn’t able to think about where to go in advance, so my default is my backyard. Also, as always right now, I’m curious where Junior is. So.

But, FIRST. I must say that my Naturing outings are now MUCH IMPROVED thanks to an incredible friend (Carol), who kindly fixed my Totoro backpack straps. One had torn somewhat recently. And, I have always wanted them longer, as it’s actually a kid’s backpack… Yeah. I’m not proud of that. But, it just needed longer straps to fit me, and CAROL MADE IT HAPPEN!! Now, it is an adult backpack with super strong nylon straps that fits me like it should. I feel like maybe I’m even walking taller with it fitting me right? Bottom line is it’s amazing, and I have her to thank. And, friends are awesome.

I HAD planned on doing a quick check-in near the owl nursery, then moving on to Stow Lake. But, I got sidetracked. Started through Monarch Bear Grove, where Black-tailed Bumblebees and Western Honey Bees are still enjoying the Pride of Madeira bush over there. That Cherry-Plum tree nearby has like only one blossom left and has blown up into a full-on Tree Creature of Leaves. And, I heard then found a Nuttall’s Woodpecker up in a Coast Live Oak. Even got some decent photos of it!

So, the Great Horned Owl family is still up in the eucs near the owl nursery. But, they’re HIGHER UP now. Even JUNIOR. I’m not so sure, having seen how high up it already is, that it’ll need the owl nursery now. That thing is FIERCE. Though, it did look a little chilly after a super quick preen, when it immediately returned to the likely warmth of its downy fur. I really need to find an evening when I can be there near sunset to see what happens then… Maybe next week… Owl pics for the owl fans below.

I started walking toward Stow Lake when I saw a medium-sized orangish butterfly land on a leaf and stand with its wings closed up. West Coast Lady? I watched it for a while, hoping it’d open up its wings. But, no. It was too cool out, and the sun had gone behind clouds. I kept watching it, in vain, when I saw a tiny white prickly larvae-looking thing crawling away from the butterfly. It was soon out of view, and I didn’t want to disturb the butterfly to get a better look at it. But, WHAT WAS THAT??

THEN, I happened to see what looked like a long-legged spider a couple leaves away from the butterfly. It appeared to be struggling and sitting on a small tube of sorts. I kept watching, and it seemingly emerged to show long wings! What did I just witness, JD?? My best guess is Crane Fly?

I spent so long observing the butterfly and fly that I didn’t have time for Stow Lake. So, I headed to the Lily Pond. On the way, I spotted a partially opened California Manroot fruit. Those things are so strange! This was along the Slime Mold lab, where nothing was going on, despite the bit of rain we recently had. And, a Norway Maple (I think) has started to bloom. So pretty.

The Lily Pond was super quiet. And, low. A pipe in the pond was exposed that I’ve never seen before. That’s how low. And, just a Mallard couple on it. And, American Robins singing everywhere around it. After noticing some Foxglove about to bloom among the ferns and blooming Green Alkanet in many spots, I started checking the Calla Lilies in the Tree Fern Dell for any spiders. And, I found one! Dark brown, so perhaps a male Goldenrod Crab Spider? Super exciting to find one!

I took my snack break where the shed used to be. I sat on the monastery rocks there, and I thought about the shed that used to be there. I’m still curious how that fire started. Then, I noticed a small rock right where the shed used to be, with crayon written on it. “RIP SHED” was the message. Guess I’m not the only one who misses that little shed! Walked past the Tree Fern Dell and noticed all the Bear’s Breeches leaves have large holes in them. What eats them? Need to look that up. Further on, a Song Sparrow and some California Towhees were a little startled as I walked past them. But, the Song Sparrow sang a song for me and let me take its photo.

I headed to the Secret Mushroom Spot, when I saw Field Elm samarae wings fluttering down on me. I LOVE when they do that. Some birds were high up eating away, which forced the wings to fall below and onto me. They looked like House Finches, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen them in GGPark? So, I headed up the hill to get a better look. I still wasn’t sure, but they were silhouetted. One photo came out with one in silhouette that I quite liked. Looks like an album cover or something!

While up there, I noticed a black bird dive-bombing the top of a tree. Heard Common Raven sounds, so I assumed a Raven was dive-bombing a raptor, like they do. But, NO. An American Crow was dive-bombing a squawking Raven that was at the top of the tree! I didn’t know they did that! Crows are hysterical!

Up on that hill, I spotted blooming Coastal Bush Lupine and a small purple lupine (Chamisso Bush Lupine?) near it. What looked like a sleeping California Lady Beetle was tucked away on a leaf in it! The poor plant looked like it was being choked by dry grass. I think Bob told me the name of that grass, but I’ve forgotten. And, I stupidly didn’t think to take photos to ID it… But, I was compelled to pull what I could out so the purple lupine could have some breathing room. Looks better now. But, it’ll need help again soon.

There’s a whole bunch of native plants over there. Along with the lupine, there’s California Sagebrush and Common Yarrow and even something newtome as of today! Stinging Phacelia? I’m still struggling with the ID. But, the small white flowers are so interesting. They look like lace doilies! Hoping I can get a firm ID on that one.

Nothing was going on at the Secret Mushroom Spot, so I started my walk home. And, I noticed some spots where I saw my first species. Like, Artist’s Bracket. And, Field Elm. And, California Flannelbush. All near the Secret Mushroom Spot. And, I started thinking about how I’m starting my third year of Naturing as of March 2022. It was nice to realize and reflect on that.

On my way home, I saw a Red-shouldered Hawk getting harrassed when it quickly flew to a protected corner in a tree. What I think is Lady Banks’ Rose called to me near the GGPark Nursery. Smelled so lovely! And, I spotted a Ruby-crowned Kinglet as I approached the North end of Whiskey Hill. I had recently thought that I hadn’t seen one all afternoon and wondered if perhaps they’ve started to leave. And, there one was to show me they’re still around. Thankfully. Love those little Kinglets.

Got to the house across the street from mine when I saw blooming Garden Heliotrope. One of my favorite scented flowers. Right across the street from my apartment building. And, I’d never seen it before. Yeah. It was humbling. Need to remember to keep my eyes open for such things even before I start formally Naturing. You never know what’s right in front of you unless you look.

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