Golden Gate Park (4/26/2022)

Today I was very much looking forward to my backyard. I had seen indications elsewhere that Hawthorn and Horse-Chestnut are blooming, so I wanted to check out the spots I know of where they’re at in my park. Midland Hawthorn, in particular, is a favorite of mine. And, a whopping four types of Hawthorn and Horse-Chestnut are on the Pioneer Trail.

But, first! The Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers are now free to SF residents. So, I also planned to take advantage of that today.

Starting off in the Monarch Bear Grove, it was nice to see that the new wood chips at the South entrance are holding up nicely. Didn’t get that far in when I saw that the Midland Hawthorn shrub there was going BONKERS. It was kind of breathtaking. But, then, I’m quite partial to them. I didn’t need to go far at all to see them blooming!

In that area, there was also work done! Lots of blackberry bushes had been taken out, and new plantings of flowers were in their place. Both sides of the trail! And, even all the way to the monastery stone circles!! Black Sage (?) and Sulphur Cinquefoil and Seaside Woolly Sunflower and Island Bush Snapdragon (I think). While I was admiring it all, a Dark-eyed Junco curiously hopped into one section to check it out. Already a success! So awesome that the Monarch Bear Grove is getting some love!!

Just past the stone circles, I heard a somewhat familiar bird sound above me. Looked up and saw what looked like Ruby-crowned Kinglets making non-Ruby-crowned Kinglet sounds. Must be Hutton’s Vireos!

There were two of them bopping around in the Coast Live Oak above me. And, I am downright SHOCKED that I got ONE PHOTO in decentenoughfocus of this bird. My first Hutton’s Vireo photo, WOO!

They quickly left, so I made my way to the CAS Botanical Garden. I was curious if any of the California Buckeye there were blooming yet. And, they’re starting to! Also, Twinberry Honeysuckle had berries out, and California Sweetshrub had delightful flowers, too.

Not only did the California Buckeye over there start to bloom, but those trees are NUTSO FULL right now. There’s a long log bench over there that is entirely exposed during Fall and Winter. And, it’s got a lovely canopy of green leaves from the Buckeye tree behind it now. What a difference Spring makes.

I cruised by the meadow South of the Shakespeare Garden, and those recent plantings are all doing so well! I could see significant progress, and those plantings were from the Fall, maybe?? I even saw flowers on some of the California Flannelbush plantings. Amazing.

Along that CAS path, I spotted Fringe Cups peeking out from the metal fence. Didn’t know they were there! And, the Western Redbud trees are full of charming heart-shaped leaves.

After noting a new Fairy Door in the Music Concourse (thanks to a couple kids who were investigating it) and stopping to smell the roses (Rosa gallica ‘Cardinal de Richelieu,’ I think), I arrived at the Japanese Tea Garden. And, they let me in for free!

It was nice to be back. There were more people than the last time I was there, my one visit during the pandemic. When there were one-way directions on the paths, and some things were closed off (like the tall round bridge). But, EVERYTHING was open. Newtome Germander Speedwell (?) and European Dog Violets adorably added purple touches to the small patches of grass here and there. The Japanese Carp were everywhere! The Douglas Irises were loving life. A female Brown-headed Cowbird let me take its picture.

And, I think a Yellow-faced Bumble Bee had passed out onto a leaf.

Made my way out and up to Stow Lake. The European Carp up there were gathering at the East end. But, other than that, the whole East side was eerily quiet, save for a handful of Canada Geese. Up at the Great Blue Heron rookery, I only saw two nests occupied. With an adult each. That nest with the two juveniles was EMPTY. That was fast!

Over at the Pioneer Trail, what I was hoping for was indeed there. The Common Hawthorn and Midland Hawthorn and Red Horse-Chestnut and Horse-Chestnut were all crazy-full of flowers. I had to stop and admire the Bumble Bees going to town on the Common Hawthorn for a bit. So happy! Also, the Kanzan Cherry trees over there have finally started blooming. The whole trail is so pretty right now!

I got to the curve in the trail where the pine tree is that the Great Horned Owls of Stow Lake sometimes are in. And, part of the tree had come down recently. Looks a bit bare up there now! Wonder if it’ll suffice for the GHOs that used to enjoy it.

Passed the Fairy Door and made my way to my final stop. To check in on Junior. And, no GHOs were in that Coast Live Oak. Or the favored tree from last year on that trail. Turns out, Junior is back in that eucalyptus tree from before. It was perched on a bizarrely bent sprig of euc leaves. And, it was sleeping. It heard a dry leaf I stepped on as I approached it, opened its eyes to look right at me, then promptly returned to naptime.

No sign of any parent owls in that euc, but I spotted one in the Lemonwood tree behind it. There’s always one close-by! Owl pics below for the owl fans.

So, free Japanese Tea Garden is fantastic. Hawthorn and Horse-Chestnut flowers are absolutely on display right now. And, Junior is A-OK. That is all.

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