Junipero Serra Park (5/16/2022)

Today I didn’t exactly take a planned day trip. I have been planning to seek out some of the Mariposa Lilies (Calochortus) that have been popping up in my iNat feed. So, I did leave SF city limits, but it was only a twenty minute drive. Hardly a day trip! Also, I really wanted to see some before I leave for the Sierras on Sunday. Today just happened to be the best day. So, there.

Found the White (but, often pinkish-white) Globe Lily! And, it’s just as darling and delicate-looking as the photos I’ve seen on iNat. But, let’s start at the beginning.

Never heard of this park before! Not in love with the name. Had no idea what to expect, but the iNat observations seemed right on the trail. Not far from the parking lot even. Easy!

Started at the De Anza Trailhead, and the view of gnarly Coast Live Oaks right behind it was a nice welcome. The White Globe Lilies appeared to be on the Live Oak Nature Trail, so that’s where I went. And, it’s a lovely trail through Coast Live Oaks with the trickle of El Zanjon Creek below and a good amount of native wildflowers. Continued on the Pine Trail to the Buckeye Trail to the Quail Loop Trail and back again. I pretty much saw the whole park.

But, onto my quest. Great Horsetail and California Hedge Nettle and Douglas Iris and California Bee Plant with Yellow-faced Bumble Bee and Pink Honeysuckle were familiar faces to start my walk.

I came upon what looked like a pellet, but it couldn’t be. It looked like bits of cotton stuffing was all wrapped up with feather pieces and whatnot. Could that really be a pellet?? Looked for owls nearby. Nope. Looked for owls from then on. Didn’t see any. But, I kept thinking what a perfect owl nursery all those Coast Live Oaks would make…

Started seeing Dusky-footed Woodrat nests, and I pretty much saw them EVERYWHERE. If you want to see their houses, this is the place to go. That should indicate the presence of owls, but. Would be great to be there near sunset! Too bad they close too early for that during PDT.

Then, I SAW THEM. Those lovely dewdrop White Globe Lilies. So close to the start of the trail! Wasn’t sure if there’d be more, so I spent a little time admiring them.

After noticing Western Blue-Eyed Grass blooming, I saw a short path to the creek. Thought I’d see if any newts or anything were there, but a dead animal was right at the edge. Wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but iNat thinks a Coyote. It kind of looked like what I saw at Black Point some time ago. Hm!

Started hearing a Bewick’s Wren and then heard and spotted a Spotted Towhee across the creek. More White Globe Lilies! Maybe False Puffball mushrooms amongst the Cramp Balls? Woodland Strawberry was blooming and fruiting.

Then, I happened to see a spider. Newtome Sierra Dome Spider! Also saw another one later. Both looked like they were in the process of eating something! California Buttercups led my way to a Vivid Dancer on the trail ahead. California Buckeye in bloom. More Pink Honeysuckle. MORE WHITE GLOBE LILIES. What a treat to have them scattered along the Live Oak Nature Trail!

Blue Dicks and more White Globe Lilies and one Pacific Pea flower and two Mourning Doves and perhaps Splitgill Mushroom all eventually got me to the Pine Trail. Eucs dominated this trail, and the pines that were there seemed quite sparse in the branch department. I couldn’t imagine owls in them. Not enough cover. So weird.

But, over there I did see the most gorgeous Ithuriel’s Spear flowers. Such intense pink-purple colors! Flowering Pacific Madrone trees also appeared a bit. And Yerba Buena (with tiny white flowers!) and more White Globe Lilies. Veiled Polypore mushrooms on tree logs. Some Dwarf Checkermallow. Never enough of them. A very large and tidy nest above more Dusky-footed Woodrat homes!

Got a decent look at a Hairy Woodpecker before encountering more California Buckeye in bloom. Then, a small creature just parallel to me under the shrubs moved. Brush Rabbit! It ran away before I could snap a photo, of course. More White Globe Lilies before I ended the loop and was back at the beginning.

Took my snack break at the picnic tables there. Where a Pinata Pole was installed nearby! And, I saw so few people so far. Definitely felt like I had the place to myself. Had a little more time, so I decided to explore the South and East parts. After enjoying watching a Spotted Towhee do the California Towhee Stomp I know so well, I ventured on.

Encountered some Denseflower Indian Paintbrush in suchgoodform compared to what I first saw at San Bruno Mountain. So pretty! I don’t think I’ve ever met a Paintbrush I haven’t lovedatfirstsight.

The rest of my time was uneventful. Aside from a tiny redwood grove, the South and East sides of the park aren’t that interesting to me. Mostly eucs and weeds/non-native grasses. And views of SFO. Meh!

Overall, the North trails are where it’s at! Crazygoodfind for White Globe Lilies. And, I bet there are owls in them thar oak woodlands…

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