Golden Gate Park (8/19/2022)

Today I was able to go Naturing for about an hour. Left later than I wanted to, and I had to be at the bandshell for free live music (the delightfully entertaining Mad Maggies) and happy hour with Brian. Not ideal, but I’ll take about an hour if that’s all I can get.

The plan was just to visit the Lily Pond and the owl nursery. On my way there, I noticed a tree in the Monarch Bear Grove I hadn’t noticed before. It was behind a Coast Live Oak, not easy to get to, and my photos from the trail are apparently not good enough to get even a decent idea of what it is. Ash, perhaps? Need to go back and just get closer to that dang tree for better photos next time…

Crossed JFK, and I just had to stop and smell that lovely white Blueblossom (likely a Ceanothus species also in the CAS Botanical Garden) before making a loop with the Lily Pond. I finally decided it was safe enough to take that back lower trail, after avoiding it for so long soon after seeing that Coyote trot onto it a while back. The Coyote den signs are still at the Slime Mold Lab Trail, so it should be safe still, right? Didn’t encounter any coyotes!

Got to the Lily Pond’s South entrance, and the Santa Cruz Island Wild Buckwheat is just going BONKERS over there. After entering, a Song Sparrow graciously let me take photos of it. And I spotted my first Cross Orbweaver at the Lily Pond, I think? Is that right? Felt like it. Saw two more in the area, and it made me feel like Fall is about here! So happy about that!

The Great Blue Heron of the Lily Pond was perched on that weird square metal thing, that is perhaps a broken water fountain thing? I’ve never known what the heck it is. But the GBH loves it.

While visiting the Tree Fern Dell and trying to find the Brown Creeper I kept hearing, I noticed a tree there that I hadn’t noticed before. Pseudopanax lessonii?? That’s what Seek thinks! iNat thankfully has a common name for it – Houpara. Since it’s cultivated, I’m not expecting to get any ID help on iNat. So I’ll have to dig deeper on that one for a confident ID…

Started the walk up to the owl nursery, and I saw crazybrightred Sage I’d never seen before. Tropical Sage? In the middle of nowhere? And I don’t believe I’ve seen it anywhere else in GGPark? Sometimes I feel like Seek is playing tricks on me.

Up at the owl nursery, I only saw one Great Horned Owl (Junior, I think). It was tucked away and near the trail, so I was able to get some amazing close-ups of its face. Saw another GHO (parent, I think) up high in the fakenesttree before I moved on for happy hour.

On the way out, I had to stop and watch and try not to laugh too hard at a California Scrub-Jay trying and failing miserably to eat a blackberry. Its weight could not be supported by the small branches it was trying. It then tried the same thing with the Kangaroo Apple fruit nearby. NO DICE. Some of these plants need a sign that says, “You must be this small of a bird to eat this fruit.”

AFTER THE SHOW, Brian and I went to the owl nursery to see the GHOs in action at sunset. Parent GHO was still high up in the fakenesttree. Junior was still in the same spot in the owl nursery. And, because she moved, we also saw Ma Owl starting to stretch and get ready for the night. All were pretty awake. It was nearing sunset. THINGS WERE ABOUT TO HAPPEN.

It’s been A WHILE since I was around at sunset time to watch them fly off!

Ok, so all of a sudden, Junior does a small hoot. Then, it does its little cry a couple times, I think. Pa Owl swoops down from the fakenesttree and into the same tree as Junior. GET THIS. He is facing Junior and starts to HOOT PROPERLY. Junior is facing Pa Owl and continues to do single cries. THIS GOES BACK AND FORTH FOR A WHILE!

AND, THEN! Ma Owl flies in closer into the same tree and is facing Junior and does her HIGH HOOT! I couldn’t tell you how long this went on for, because I was in sheer amazement watching this hoot lesson in progress. BUT! I did get a recording of all three of them doing this!!

BUT, THEN!!! It feels like Junior is just not going to cooperate. Then, Pa Owl flies down right to it and kind of into its spot! Junior immediately flies off South. Pa Owl follows! Then, Ma Owl followed!!

OKOKOK, this was all so terribly exciting, folks. I’ve never heard Junior hoot. I’ve never seen a hoot lesson. I’ve never seen a GHO in this part of GGPark EVER fly South before. I just looked at Brian, with almost tears in my eyes from watching the hooting lesson. And he was in agreement it was incredible to have seen it all.

So, yeah. My relatively uneventful hour of Naturing was followed up with a FLIPPIN’ AMAZING 30ish MINUTES of FANTASTIC OWLSPOTTING. It’s a Good Friday, folks!

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