Golden Gate Park (8/1/2022)

Today I got to go Naturing. In my backyard.

But, first! Spotted a House Finch on a wire above me on my block, and it made a nice silhouetteofsorts. Don’t often see them on my street, neat!

I had planned to do the Greatest Hits, but alas. The weather was humid and muggy and weird, and Stow Lake didn’t seem as appealing to me. After noting blooming Varnishleaf upon entering the ballfield and checking in on the Barn Owl box (saw a tiny something inside), I was lured to the Monarch Bear Grove. And so I went.

California Scrub-Jays first greeted me. Looks like juveniles are still out and squawking to each other. The Ironwood flowers are all gone. Some Blueblossom is re-blossoming. Purple Akeake, St. Catherine’s Lace, and Common Lionspaw are out and happy. Not a whole lot of other bird action there right then. Oh, and some striking Pinto Beardtongue flowers were showing off along the AIDS Memorial Grove.

I made my way to the Lily Pond, and I kept going to see how things were at the Secret Mushroom Spot. Hadn’t been in a while! There’d been some precipitation! But, nope. Nothing happening. Still nice to visit.

I then took the JFK route, up the stone staircase, and up the back way to the Lily Pond. Couldn’t remember when I’d last done that. I got to the trail along the fence and spotted Cock’s-eggs at the base of a tree. Right then, an Allen’s Hummingbird whizzed onto a branch end. And rustling was going on near me, where a Song Sparrow and a Dark-eyed Junco eventually emerged from. It’s one of my favorite things. Being quiet and still and letting the creatures all come out to you.

Noticed some Veiled Polypore fungi embedded in a dead pine tree before I entered the Tree Fern Dell. The pond was covered in algae, just like it was last time I was there. Just a Black Phoebe and some female Mallards were out. But Tutsan berries were very tempting. And yet, I settled for some Armenian Blackberry berries instead.

I left the quiet Lily Pond and entered the Secret Gardens, where seemingly every usual bird suspect in GGPark was out and on the grasses eating up everything. I stopped to watch them all, and a Botta’s Pocket Gopher popped its head out to instantly grab and pull down some nearby foliage. Got some footage of it, too! Wish I could share it here…

I walked up Lila’s Hill, as it’d been forever. And I took in the view from one of the benches and couldn’t help but appreciate how blue the skies looked. As they do every time enough moisture comes through and is followed by sunshine.

Passed by gorgeous Red Alder catkins on my way to the owl nursery. On the Slime Mold Lab Trail, I saw a couple juvenile California Scrub-Jays. And one stopped to dig out what might’ve been an acorn (?) from the ground. It got it into its mouth and wasn’t sure what to do with it. It flew off under trees to sort it out. It’s amazing how many places they can remember where they buried food for later.

At the Portuguese Laurel spot, I caught sight of my first Cross Orbweaver of the year! It was working on what looked like a bee, wrapping it up nicely.

And then, it was OWL TIME. At first, I didn’t see any Great Horned Owls. But then, THERE WERE THREE. All near each other. Ma Owl and Pa Owl were very close, then Pa Owl moved away as I approached. Junior was above. Pa Owl hooted once! And Junior did a couple quick cries. Soon after, Pa Owl flew into a different Coast Live Oak. And I watched them all preen and stretch and cough up a pellet and preen some more.

Looking down on the ground, I noticed a spot where they must’ve coughed up many pellets. I even saw a small skeletal head piece! No idea what it was.

At one point, Junior started eating twigs of the Coast Live Oak! I couldn’t help but laugh at her, but I got some video of it. Again, wish I could share it here!!

Spent a good deal of time there. I missed them all. But at some point it was time to go. On my way out, I caught sight of a Red Admiral fluttering and landing in a stretch of sun on the trail. Always a treat to see a butterfly in GGPark. And it’s quite a nice way to end a visit there, I must say.

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