Golden Gate Park (4/19/2022)

Today I was so happy to visit my backyard.

My plan was to visit Stow Lake, and more importantly, Strawberry Hill. I’ve been meaning to see what the butterfly situation is up there and if I was able to find the Great Horned Owls of Stow Lake at all. Been a while since I’ve seen or heard them!

On my way, I spotted a newtome flower along MLK. Flour-dust Plant! It’s a succulent, which is great. But, wish it was native! There are a handful of native succulents that the butterflies like. But, what was super exciting is that because I stopped to investigate these flowers, I saw a trail of MUSHROOMS right near it! Ok, FINALLY got some good mushroom action after all these bits of rainy days. About time! Think it’s Sulphur Tuft? What’s crazy is that I’m not sure because I’m SO RUSTY on mushrooms now. Nutso.

Just past there, I was admiring all the happy flowers. Especially the Foxgloves. And, a West Coast Lady butterfly fluttered into my view and onto the ground for me briefly. I wondered if it was a sign that I’d see butterflies on Strawberry Hill…

Walked past the Japanese Tea Garden, and the cherry blossom garden is just about entirely empty of blossoms and full of bright green leaves now. Guess I missed the peak! Must’ve happened right after my last visit with Aoife and her folks.

Up at Stow Lake, things couldn’t have been more Springtimey. And, there were so many turtles in Turtle Cove, Margery! They were all hovering over what looked like SWARMS of Western Mosquitofish. The Great Blue Herons should’ve been told!

Some of the previous regulars were gone from the lake. Like the Northern Shovelers and Ruddy Ducks. Suppose they’ve shoveled off for the Summer. Yellow Irises have entirely taken over the place. It’s like their Second Spring or something! So nice to see them again so soon.

Up at the GBH rookery, there was an empty nest. Not successful? Or, is everyone gone already? A GBH flew over my head (!) and curved into a landing on a nest where the two chicks are. So, they look like they’re doing well. But, so strange to see fewer GBHs there already.

What I believe is Fruit-scented Sage is out in bloom along Stow Lake. Just one spot that I know of. Those onespotonly flowers are so odd but so frequent in the park.

Just past it, I saw my first goslings of the year! Two Canada Goose parents plus SEVEN LITTLE GOSLINGS between them. Got to watch what I assume was Dad Goose instructing the goslings to stay close to Mom Goose ahead. And, they quickly obeyed and stayed SUPER close to her the rest of the way. ADORABLE. Also, seems early?? Gotta check when I started seeing goslings last year…

Past that, I saw more of the regulars. More Ring-necked Ducks and some of the Domestic Mallards. A female Hooded Merganser tried to make me believe she was napping. But, my close-up photos showed otherwise! ALSO, got my best photos EVER of a Bufflehead. My camera upgrade is really paying off!

Crossed the pretty bridge onto Strawberry Hill, and I noticed a decent-sized group of Douglas Irises along the lake. Huh. Have they always been there?? I took my favorite path up the hill, and up at the top there’s a ton of fresh wood chips. They were in a number of other places in the park, as well. Wood Chip Season?

Passed by what is an ENORMOUS Coastal Bush Lupine shrub right now to make my way to the top of the hill. The sage up there was seemingly mostly done? Many flowers were gone. But! I did see two Red Admirals fighting the good fight up there! It was all I saw at the top, but it’s always great to see butterflies at all where they’ve really worked to make it an inviting place for them.

No sign of the owls. But, I wasn’t certain they were up at the top. Maybe they’re only up there when they have owlets? Maybe no owlets again this year?

During my usual loop of the reservoir, I didn’t spot any mushrooms as I was hoping to see, but MY GAWD. The back side is so crazy LUSH right now! Mostly California Bee Plant. Ended at the super fragrant Mexican Mock Orange plants, which appeared to also be experiencing a Second Spring. Lucky me! While inhaling them happily, a Red Admiral flew into view and landed a couple feet from me on the ground.

Ok, so this is interesting. I’m noticing a pattern with butterflies. When I first see them, they are VERY SHY and are not often easy to see. This happened at the top with the two Red Admirals. But, in general, after first seeing a butterfly, I start to see the same ones more often. And, it even seems to me like they’re TRYING to get me to notice them! I know it sounds crazy, but it happens more often than not. And, it happened again TODAY. I just looked at that Red Admiral and said, “I definitely see you! Thank you, kind sir!”

Looked away from it and noticed both a Black-tailed Bumble Bee and a newtome fly thing on those Mexican Mock Orange leaves. Protodejeania? It was huge! And had a bright red body! Just past them, the new gardens are looking great. Thanks to the Bee Plant, mostly. But, I can’t believe how well they’re thriving already. Guess planting native plants helps!

I even spotted some Sea Thrift that might’ve naturally made its way out of the garden and closer to the reservoir. Exciting!

After noting that Western Blue-Eyed Grass was blooming (from what I think were recent plantings), that flippin’ Red Admiral was all of a sudden in my path! I’m telling you. Those butterflies WANT to be seen. They’re just shy at first.

Decided I’d check one last tree for the owls before heading down. And, THERE IT WAS! Just one. But, a nest did look like it was right behind it. Hm! It’s the same tree I last saw them in. Of course, right after getting it into view in my binocs, it looked RIGHT AT ME. I took on the stare-down. And, it casually looked away. Looked all over for signs of other owls, but I couldn’t find others. But! Very nice to know where one of them currently is. Would be great to be around for sunset and see what the other one is up to. Owl pics below for the owl fans. Though, this one was deep in that tree. So, don’t expect much.

Back at Stow Lake, folks were oohing and aahing at the Canada Goose goslings on the lake. And, a smaller Canada Goose family was off the path with two older goslings in tow. GAWD. SO FUZZY.

I stopped one last time to see if anything had changed at the GBH rookery. Nope. An older man with a nice camera asked if I’d seen any of the chicks. I told him what I’d seen and what I knew. He said it was sad that part of that tree had come down in a recent storm. I hadn’t even quite realized it! It did seem like there were less nests. And, THERE YOU HAVE IT. AND, I took a closer look and saw that a GBH was sitting in the tiniest nest on the stump of a tree branch. Definitely new! They’re making it work.

So, yeah. Stow Lake is a good place to visit soon if GBH chicks and Canada Goose goslings are something you’d enjoy seeing!

One thought on “Golden Gate Park (4/19/2022)

  1. I love this. I feel like I really visited Stow Lake. And everything is happening! I’m getting why my mom always gets super pumped for Spring now! Thanks.


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