Golden Gate Park (8/31/2022)

Today I visited my backyard for research for The Book. I ended up having only enough time for one location, Strawberry Hill.

I didn’t even visit the lake-level area, and I got A TON of goodies added to the list for Summer! It was also nice to see familiar faces, like Lemmon’s Marigold, Baby Sage, and Seaside Daisy. A number of the flora in the Asteraceae family were missing petals here and there. A sign that Fall is around the corner?

Got up to the tippy top of the hill, which I haven’t been to in ages, and to my delight there were butterflies up there! A West Coast Lady first fluttered around me and landed facing me. En garde pose! That was a treat, as I haven’t seen one up there before. A group of Red Admirals were also about and fighting and resting then fighting again. I’m tempted to get out there before official Summer ends, when it’s mid-day and sunny out. I know I’m missing other butterflies there…

Rose Campion is bursting its glorious magenta flowers on the reservoir level. Wall Germander and Hooker’s Evening Primrose and some Mexican Mock Orange flowers were also out enjoying the sunshine.

And the bees are back! So nice to see such activity around those boxes again. It’s been a while!

After admiring some Fringed Willowherb, I spotted the TINIEST FLOWER. Newtome Blue Water-speedwell! So nice to meet another Speedwell. Once I admired IT, I spotted two white fungi tucked away just behind it. Don’t think I’ve seen these mushrooms before! iNat thinks it’s Poison Pie. But that can’t be something real, right? We’ll see what Alan says!

After taking my snack break at the picnic table, per usual, I noticed what looked like a Hutton’s Vireo popping around in the small trees on the hillside. But this had a pointy head! Flycatcher! Appears to be a Pacific-slope Flycatcher!! This is exciting for me because I haven’t seen them much before. Highlight, FOR SURE.

As I was laughing at how shriveled Brown Sage looks like Mick Jagger’s lips, I started hearing Steller’s Jays squawking like crazy. I looked for an owl but didn’t see one. They were making all kinds of sounds, some of which I definitely hadn’t heard before. I couldn’t believe how many came out of the woodwork! Had no idea there were THAT MANY of them on Strawberry Hill.

Since I couldn’t tell what they were going off about, I continued my loop around the reservoir. Black Sage (?) and Naked Buckwheat (?) were flowering nicely before I got to the still lovely-scented Garden Heliotrope.

And then, a Red Admiral whizzed in front of me then around me then away from me then almost onto my arm then around me again then almost onto my arm AGAIN then finally landed on the trail in front of me, showing its wings to me. It was BIZARRE. And yet, it’s not the first time. Sometimes this happens to me. I’m sure I’ve noted it before. That butterflies do this to me. It feels like they want to MAKE SURE I see them and get good photos. I can’t think of anything else to explain it!

Ok, this is where things GOT STRANGE. It seemed like the Steller’s Jays were starting to get closer to me. And, still squawking up a storm. I started to wonder if they were doing all the alarms BECAUSE OF ME! Likely that same Pacific-slope Flycatcher allofasudden appeared in the same tree and looked down at me as if to say, “What did YOU DO?”

So, I’m standing under the Field Elm tree witnessing all of this. Really wondering if I got too close to a nest or something?? Then, one Steller’s Jay flies right onto the branch right above me. AND SINGS TO ME. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never seen a Steller’s Jay sing before. And, I SWEAR TO GAWD, it was singing AT ME.

So, at this point, I have a passing thought that I’m dreaming or something. Then that passed. And all I could think was that I wished I knew what it was trying to tell me!!

They seemed to move on, away from me. So I felt I was able to leave the hill. Safely. Noticed a super small white moth and a small Great Horned Owl feather on my way down. But, I couldn’t help thinking about those Jays. I confess that I thought for a hot second that that Jay was giving me a message from one of the Great Horned Owls up there. Yes, this is where my mind goes sometimes, folks. When I’m on my own. And I have these unique wildlife encounters. And, I’m A-OK WITH IT.

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