Golden Gate Park (5/4/2022)

Today I had planned to spend my Naturing time out in the West end of GGPark. I unfortunately saw an iNat observation recently of a dead Great Horned Owl juvenile just East of the Bison Paddock. I don’t even know what the deal is with owlets for either the GHOs of Stow Lake or the GHOs of the Chain of Lakes. But, I thought the best guess would be from the East pair. So, that was my plan. To check them out. See how they’re doing.

But, the weather turned overcast and chilly and windy allofasudden. A huge wall of Karl the Fog was hanging over the ocean, and I could see the fog rolling East on Lincoln as I drove into it. So, I decided to skip it. And return when the weather was a little nicer.

So, I ended up at The Middle. And, I visited Mallard Lake, The Oasis, and Elk Glen Lake today instead.

Got close to where I usually park at Mallard Lake, and there was a busted pipe gushing water onto MLK that rushed down the West slope. And, I spotted a turtle swimming (unintentionally?) in it, also moving down the West slope! It was fortunately along the curb, where the water was. So, I quickly parked, saw that a gal had also seen this, and we rescued (?) the Red-eared Slider turtle. She grabbed it from under a parked SUV, and I brought it over to Mallard Lake. Placed it at the edge on the lake bed, as the lake was quite low, and it poked its head out a bit and immediately headed into the lake. Maybe it wanted an adventure? TOO BAD. You don’t belong on the road, Mr. Turtle!

After that excitement, I formally arrived at Mallard Lake. And, I could see the fog running across the lake! AND, get this. Someone was PLAYING BAGPIPES in the picnic area across MLK. Did it feel like I was in Scotland allofasudden?? WHY, YES IT DID.

Yellow Irises were in a number of spots along the lake. Never seen them there before, huh! Some small orange dots were on a handful of willow leaves, Willow Bead Gall Mite?

I didn’t get too far along my usual counter-clockwise loop when I spotted a Great Blue Heron in the lake at the edge right near me! First time seeing a GBH in Mallard Lake, whoa! Maybe because the lake was low? It was so odd to see it there!

Made it to the South trail (which was sheltered from the wind), and I stopped to admire all the California Bee Plant that had managed to grow above the non-native weeds/grasses. Then, I saw a Yellow-faced Bumble Bee making its rounds on the Little-Robin flowers. I love watching them when they are nectaring from flowers way too small for them. They grab onto the flower, and it instantly collapses from the Bumble Bee’s weight. Cracks me up every time. Gawd, have I already talked about how much I love this? Ah, well. Still love it.

While there, I noticed a uniqueish fly on a California Bee Plant flower. Western Forest Sedgesitter? And, some Yellowjackets came in to take their fill of the same flowers. A lot happening right there!

A few steps past there, I got a much better look at the GBH across the lake. It was so far down in the lake that I couldn’t see its legs most of the time. I turned back to the trail, admired the soontobloom California Buckeye tree there and the newtome flower view of Saltcedar, and allofasudden the GBH was a couple feet from me, on a log, and had swallowed a fish! I actually shrieked! Didn’t even hear it coming!! What was even odder was that it was a sign of more to come.

For a number of other bird encounters to come today, the birds actually CAME CLOSER to me. This made me think I was near nests or something. Birds never come closer to me!! But, today they did.

Like the GBH. And right after that, a Song Sparrow sang me a song, then it hopped TOWARD ME. Hm. Happened again with a different Song Sparrow ahead!

Arrived at the creek that flows into Mallard Lake, checked for any Crayfish (nope), and continued up toward the small waterfall when I noticed beautiful leaves on a thin tree up ahead. Tree of Heaven?! I’ve recently read about these trees. That they were brought/planted here by Chinese immigrants, I believe. And, here were three near each other at the Southeast corner of Mallard Lake. Random! How the heck have I not noticed them before?

While there, I heard then saw a Brown Creeper creeping up a pine tree. It grabbed something from within the bark grooves and flew away with something in its mouth. And, my digital camera photos later showed it had what looks like a spider in its beak! Near that, I caught sight of a Chestnut-backed Chickadee disappearing into a small crack in a tree. It came out then soon went back in. Nest!

At the waterfall, as is usual, a Hummingbird (Allen’s) was enjoying drinking from and bathing in the water. So nice to so often see that there.

Moving on, I arrived at The Oasis. And, I had a great view of the rushing water from the busted pipe. Figured they knew about it, since an orange cone was on the site, but I called GGPark Dispatch ANYWAY. They knew about it. Plumbers can’t get there until TOMORROW MORNING. Maybe it’s not such a big deal as it’s likely recycled water? I don’t know. Seemed nuts to me that no one could attend to it sooner.

At The Oasis, some nice things were there. Like a honeysuckle I’ve never seen there before, perhaps Etruscan Honeysuckle? A new tree/shrub planting that Seek thinks is Carolina Sweetshrub. Seep Monkeyflower were all huddled together in one small spot. I thought I’d never seen them there before, but a quick check to my database for The Book proved me wrong. Lovely Abutilon flowers in a variety of colors are about. And, there’s even a flippin’ Dally Pine tree in bloom there! DEFINITELY haven’t noticed that there before. Guess it has not been in bloom when I’ve been there!

I finished up there and made my way to Elk Glen Lake, which was also noticeably low like Mallard Lake. The sun actually peeked out here and there right about then. Tree Swallows zoomed over the lake. Twinberry Honeysuckle flowers were everywhere. Red-winged Blackbirds sang in their hiding places. Heard then saw what looked like a small House Finch family in a small shrub. Maybe a juvenile was begging? Three Mourning Doves were above them in a tree. Alternately chilling or chasing each other. And, I noticed a couple additional random Tree of Heaven trees over there. Huh!

At the Elk Glen Lake Garden, a bunch of Bumble Bees were enjoying a Coastal Bush Lupine, one of many ginormous shrubs with bright yellow lupine flowers out right now over there. After inspecting the Pear trees for any signs of fruit (nope), I heard a tiny squeak then saw a Red-shouldered Hawk fly up from behind me with a mouse in its claws! It flew up and onto a low euc branch. Looked like it was meal time, but then it soon flew off with its meal toward The Oasis.

After taking some photos of Veiled Polypore on trunk logs near MLK, I headed back to my car but first wanted to stop and see if that Deutzia pulchra tree was blooming yet. And, it was! That lovely tree needs a common name, iNat!

So, yeah. My unplanned Plan B was not too shabby, I must say. But, I gotta go see how the GHOs both at the Chain of Lakes and Stow Lake are doing, owlet-wise. Soon.

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