Golden Gate Park (5/18/2022)

Today I had to visit my backyard. It’ll likely be my last visit until JUNE. Gone next week in the Sierras (for my “Fungi and Other Mushrooms” class back at Baker Station!). So, I did the greatest hits today. And that included checking on my owls.

After two days of Naturing in newtome places, I was happy for a leisurely outing in my park. No mountains to climb here!

Crossing the ballfield, I saw a Red-tailed Hawk soaring overhead. Love to see them first thing! Crossed Pelosi Dr. and surveyed the planted flowers along MLK, like I do. And, I noticed something new. Not newtome. But, new in this location. A dark purple Common Columbine or cultivar? I’ve seen this only one place before, the Shakespeare Garden (which was adjacent). Did it naturally make its way over here??

Mexican Orange flowers further along were a lovely sight as I tried to keep out of the relentless sunshine. I really should’ve worn a hat today. Or, if I can get an intern to hold a parasol over me, that’d work, too. Just kidding. I hold my own parasol, thank you.

Got past Squirrel Central (no Squirrel Lady today), and after reaching the top of the stairs, I noticed something new. Not newtome, but new in this location. Fruiting Lingonberry! This is also off the Pioneer Trail. Guess I’ve always been too busy peeking down at the Fairy Door area to have noticed it before?

Up at Stow Lake, things were quiet. Well, there were A TON of turtles at Turtle Cove. There were a number of Canada Geese. But, I didn’t spot a single Wintering bird on the East side. Maybe some were on the South side? STRANGE. I mean, not strange. Timely. But, it seemed so empty!

But, things were not empty at the Great Blue Heron rookery. MORE Heron Chicks! The three remaining nests with GBHs in it last time I visited all had chicks today! One with two, and the other two had THREE. Even that crazy tiny nest a GBH managed to cram into a nook had THREE in it! They were all sharing space that would’ve been good for ONE. And, all the chicks were actually not chicks. GBH teenagers, I guess? They were all very alert and active. Watched one determined to eat everything from its parent, deterring its sibling from any hope of eating. It even grabbed onto its parent’s beak timeandtimeagain before it could get to the younger one. Just NUTSO.

A Double-crested Cormorant was swimming in the lake below, and it had what looked like a flippin’ CARP in its mouth! I couldn’t see the whole fish body, but that had to be it. I think those are the only regular-sized fish in the lake? I think the Cormorant gave up, because it dove down with it and soon came up without it. No bulge in the neck, so. Wacky.

After noting that a small patch of Douglas Irises were along the lake (yay!), I headed up Strawberry Hill to see if I could find the Great Horned Owl family up there. NOPE. That pine tree is so tough to see in! And, at that point, I was overheating from the HEAT WAVE (high of 74, people!!). I tried to find them. But, it was not happening. Need to check on them again in June. Need to find a better vantage point, if that’s even possible!

My consolation prize was a West Coast Lady that fluttered into my view and landed on the trail in front of me to pose. What a Lady!

I booked it to the Pioneer Trail for muchneededshade. Delightful candy-looking Tropical Pokeweed was blooming. The area where that bizarre Jimsonweed was appeared to have been cleaned up? Maybe it’s been removed?

Not much in the way of birds at the Pioneer Meadow. Also eerily empty-feeling. But, a Pacific Wren was calling like mad deep in the Pioneer Trail. Maybe the first time I’ve heard it there? Red Horse-chestnut had chestnuts coming out. And that was about it for Pioneer Trail news. It was just too dang hot out for much else.

Got to the Fairy Door, and I heard a rustling amongst the Dawn Redwoods. Thought it was a person bush-whacking over there or something, then a Coyote jumped up and onto that huge fallen tree that came down during the Winter storms! It walked up the tree log to the Stow Lake level and looked like it was heading for the lake??

Watching it use the tree as a log to get somewhere reminded me of what I think was a time-lapse video that maybe Yvonne shared some time ago? Showing all the wildlife picked up by video cams that all used this one same log to get across! Wonder if they’ll remove this tree. Doesn’t look great as it is, but who knows?

Crossed the Music Concourse and spotted an American Robin on the grass, absolutely still. With a long worm in its beak! It was not moving. Just stood there with the worm. I thought maybe even it felt it was too hot to even eat!

Got to my final destination. The owl nursery. But, no Great Horned Owl was there. Didn’t see them in the fakenesttree either. Started looking in other places, and there was Junior on that euc twig branch I’ve seen ’21 Junior on before. This ’22 Junior always keeps me on my toes!

Junior was preening. Ma Owl was just above, preening. Pa Owl was further over on the same branch, sleeping. Like he does. All three together! Owl pics below for the owl fans.

While there, someone came by (with two dogs – leashed) and stopped to look and take photos. As I often do with interested folks, I shared some info. He asked if I was a birder. “And a Naturalist,” I said. Felt so good to say that! Though, I should probably just say, “I’m a Naturalist.” A number of people know what birders are. Maybe it’s time they knew about naturalists, too.

After sharing some owl info with each other, he left and asked my name on his way out. I said, “Karen.” And, he said, “I think I’ve seen you on iNaturalist. Karen…” I helped him with my last name, and there you have it. I’M FAMOUS.

Ok, no. Not at all. But, it’s nice to know my owl photos there are giving me a reputation! I’ll take it!

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