Golden Gate Park (6/12/2022)

Today had to be getting outside and into my backyard. Yes, it’s been a while. So, I got Covid last weekend. Well, I developed symptoms and tested positive. And, it’s been ten days until today when I tested negative. And, I couldn’t wait to GET OUTSIDE. I thought the early days of the pandemic were tough. NOPE. Isolating and not leaving your small one-bedroom apartment you share with your partner is TOUGH. But, today I could not wait to be outside once I saw my test come through negative. And, it was GLORIOUS.

My first steps outside my apartment building were BIZARRE. So much AIR. EVERYWHERE. And in many directions! I couldn’t believe how bright it was outside. Definitely felt like an alien world for a bit. But after a couple steps into my park, it felt all too familiar and safe and comforting.

While I was With Covid, I had all kinds of time to return to The Book. I had a growing backlog of Flora database work. I had a good amount of lists to choose final species from. And, in some odd way, it was great to be forced to stop everything and be able to return to it all. I even completed two new spread mock-ups! And, it was clear I still had work to do for Spring. With just a weekish left before official Summer. So, I had an agenda.

Now, I rarely go into the park on weekends. Way too many people. Too much noise/music. It was shocking to see so many folks. And, for the first time during the pandemic, I was super vigilant about being near people having just come out of Covid. It was a new experience.

But, MAN, was it so nice to walk across that ballfield again. Seeing the bees with the daisies. Watching the skies clear up. That big expanse is always the perfect transition to seeing a much larger world than I can see from my apartment.

Swallows darted across the ballfield in front of me. I could see the tall Ironwood trees ahead with lots of blooms on them. And, a couple California Scrub-Jays were begging at the edge of Monarch Bear Grove. All just delightful.

After strolling through the Monarch Bear Grove, and going through it the back way to avoid a large family group, I made my way to the AIDS Memorial Grove. Unfortunately, there was a large music and dance event, likely corresponding with the quilt exhibit, so I wasn’t able to do more research than along the creek. But, I got some more data. And, I’ll come back soon.

Approaching the South entrance to the Lily Pond, I noticed California Oak Moths swarming around the Coast Live Oaks! They’re back! I love when they’re here. Blooming Gum Rock-roses were a pretty sight, too.

The Lily Pond was a bit quieter, as was to be expected. After admiring some blooming Rose-of-Sharon, I noticed that a large tree had come down and was across the pond. When the heck did that happen?? Near it, some female Mallards were preening. And, the Great Blue Heron of the Lily Pond was hiding behind the tree.

Violet-green Swallows were still around, though they were mostly flying high above the pond this time. A Black Phoebe was along the middle. And, blooming Tutsan and fruiting Red Osier Dogwood were out. So much to see.

I got to the West end of the pond and stood to take it all in, like I do. The sky was just completely gorgeous right then. Lovely clouds were still in the sky, and the color of blue up there was about as beautiful as it gets. I kept thanking my lucky stars I could go out today.

Headed to the Tree Fern Dell to see how the Bear’s Breeches were doing (A-OK), and I saw some Pygmy Nuthatches high up above. One looked like it was pecking into a tree branch, like a woodpecker. But, it pulled out a small pink berry-looking thing! I can’t believe I’ve not noticed Nuthatches here before.

I was taking a look at the St. John’s Wort flowers, when a magical flying thing came into view and landed! Familiar Bluet? Can’t wait for an iNat confirmation on that! I’ve rarely seen Damselflies or anything like them at the Lily Pond. And, I’ve always wondered why.

After seeing the blooming Small-leaf Spiderwort (love those small flowers), I went back to the pond for one last look. Got to watch an Anna’s Hummingbird and Allen’s Hummingbird duke it out over some New Zealand Flax. It is so fun to watch them fight.

I made my way up to my last spot of the day, the owl nursery. Got to the top, and a Coyote sauntered up and onto the path ahead of me. Inspected the smells on that corner. It marked its territory, took a look at me, then looked toward dog sounds coming from the nursery, and it headed off reluctantly toward the Slime Mold Lab trail. Looking back at me a couple times. I can’t believe the den is nearby!

I slowly continued toward the owl nursery, ensuring I wasn’t too close. And, there was Junior. And Ma Owl. No sign of Pa Owl. Ma Owl was giving Murderous Eyes to something below and to her left. Junior was doing pretty good Murderous Eyes somewhere in my direction. But, you know, you can’t beat Ma Owl. Like, it’s never gonna happen.

They both went back to napping, so I figured I’d do one short loop in the Secret Gardens before saying goodbye and heading home. I made sure the Coyote was not on the Slime Mold Lab Trail, and I cautiously entered it. A Red-tailed Hawk was soaring above and near a tall tree where it sounded like maybe a baby Red-tailed Hawk was squawking? The Merlin Sound ID feature did not help me out with that.

I stood there for a bit, wondering if I could figure out which tree it might be in, when the Coyote trotted up behind me and circled around me like maybe ten feet away from me?? It startled me, and I stayed put. Watched it slowly walk onto the trail toward the CAS and then left into the trees. A couple soon walked up toward me on the trail. And, the guy said, “Did he just walk up right behind you?” I said, “Yep!” They headed toward the CAS, and he said “You know, this is his house. We’re just walking through it.” Yep!

I got to the Slime Mold Lab, and nothing was happening there, of course. BUT, some random Purple Foxglove had just come out of nowhere and was bursting with blooms. It is so strange how that plant does that in random places in the park.

I turned up the next path to loop back around to the nursery, and I noticed a Skipper that eventually landed on a blackberry flower. First time seeing a Skipper round here! Exciting!!

Approaching the owl nursery from a different path, there was Pa Owl straight ahead. It’s amazing how a slightly different angle will show you AN OWL. So, all three are together in the nursery. I watched him for a little bit, since he was actually awake. And, he soon flew East and into a tree where he hid himself a bit and focused high up and to the West. Was he watching for Ravens?

I figured I’d had my owl fill, so I left quietly. Saw a good number of California Agaricus mushrooms in that same spot I’ve seen them in before, along the edge of the AIDS Memorial Grove. Someone had already pulled one out to ID it. Nice! It was also around this time that I realized that I had completely forgotten I was cooped up with Covid for the past nine days. Yeah.

Got to the ballfield, and I saw what looked like a Swallow chasing another Swallow. Turned out to be juveniles begging for food in flight! A couple of them hung out on top of the high chain link fence for the baseball field. So rare to see them sit still, so I had to get some photos. They are so dang cute.

And, that was my Naturing today. All is well in my backyard. And, I am well for it. So nice to be back.

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