The Presidio (8/4/2022)

Today was a special day. The second to last day of my internship. And in the afternoon I had found a way to find time for two awesome Program Managers on the Stewardship side of the Community Stewardship and Engagement Team (of which, my team is on the Engagement side) to spend some hours doing some hardcore Naturing with me.

So, I had missed their intern workshop in the second week of my internship, where they showed the interns how to do plant identification using a dichotomous key. And, after learning about that, they did a super brief keying session for me with my fellow intern when we were out at Milagra Ridge many weeks ago. I found it fascinating, and they said they’d both be into spending an afternoon doing Plant IDs! So today was THE DAY.

We had our Jepson Manuals and Plants of the San Francisco Bay Region books in hand, along with rulers and hand lenses. And we set out for what’s called the Presidio Hills. These are the dune restoration sites North of that hospital-turned-housing on the West side of The Presidio.

We were introduced to their sites. They each owned one side of the trail out there and told us about the restoration efforts out there. How there are endangered native plants out there, like the San Francisco Lessingia. And a secret about the overlook over there! Brian and I had walked that trail during our exploration of The Presidio forever ago (aka 2020). And I love that I now know so much more about an otherwise simple-looking site.

After admiring a Steel-blue Cricket-hunter Wasp (?), we settled in amongst the California Poppies and started the process. So, this keying business is no joke. But it’s surprisingly fun if you can forge ahead when the descriptions are vague as heck. And while I’ve always enjoyed California Poppies, especially when a Bumble Bee is running in circles around the center, I have a new-found appreciation for them after observing them for so long and seeing so much more to them than I’d seen before. Like I learned from my first CalNat course, the more you look the more you see. Seriously.

We then moved on to observing the Beach Suncup. And I canNOT believe the fruit on that thing. NUTSO. We even found a subspecies/natural hybrid of it!

Soon after, our time was up, and on the way back I stopped to admire some Stinging Phacelia. Gah, how I adore those petals. And a Hairy Woodpecker made itself known to us at the very end. In the end, I can now say I know to do plant identification in an old-school way – aka HARDCORE NATURING, dang!

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