Today I really felt like visiting the Chain of Lakes Garden. So I did.
I don’t know why I felt a particular leaning toward it. Felt like it had been a while? Needed research for The Book? Something drew me there. Can’t explain it.
Entered my usual way, through the big open empty spot with so many ways in and out. I need to call this place something. Hm. I’ll think on it. Ultimately, it’s the Southwest corner of Chain of Lakes Dr. and JFK.
Spotted a small growth of Western Hardwood Sulphur Shelf at the base of a euc in that spot, which was a lovely way to start my Naturing. Entering the Garden, the first blooming flowers I saw were Sierra Madre Lobelia. And they were so colorful and cheerful, which surprised me. I was expecting the Garden to be muted with Fall, but no. That wasn’t entirely the case.
Orange Bush Monkeyflower and California Bee Plant and Wall Germander and Seacliff Buckwheat and Seaside Daisy and that stunning pink-purple Sage. And Common Yarrow and Sandrose Mallow and ONE Scarlet Monkeyflower and Common Snowberry berries. A LOT! The Garden is also overgrown with leaves. It looks lush and happy.
A Pacific Wren (maybe two?) were calling somewhere underneath all the overgrowness. An Agaricus-looking mushroom was hiding with a little one in tow. And got to watch an Anna’s Hummingbird going to town on that Sage.
Explored the Hidden Garden behind, and it’s doing nicely. A Northern Flicker was hiding there. Found two mushrooms sheltered under leaf debris. I accidentally pulled off the cap when trying to pull the larger one out for IDing. DANGIT. Rookie mistake. What will Alan on iNat think of me?
Wandered a bit between the Hidden Garden and the Equitation Field, watching a couple Steller’s Jays, another Hummingbird, some California Towhees, and one Townsend’s Warbler. I had hoped to get a better look at the Northern Flicker that kept eluding me. But it stopped squeeking, so I decided to move on.
Even though I’d been to North Lake recently, I went ahead and did the North Lake Loop. I mean, it’s RIGHT THERE.
Noticed some fuzzy nutlets on a Little-leaf Linden tree, which has turned into fantastic Fall-colored leaves. But looking at it on Wikipedia, I’m now wondering if what’s at North Lake is the Bigleaf Linden? Those leaves were BIG. Gotta look more into that…
It was quiet on the West side of the Loop, as it usually is. But I spotted a Black-crowned Night-Heron across the lake, just sitting at the base of the many reeds. Further up, I couldn’t help but note how lovely the Sweet Chestnut leaves looked in their Fall leafage.
Got to that spot where you can often see Night-Herons across the way in the Northwest corner, and a juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron and a Common Raccoon were hanging near each other. Maybe in the same tree? The Raccoon kinda looked like maybe it wasn’t so sure about where it was. The Night-Heron was just chillin’, like they do. While I was looking at the Raccoon, the Night-Heron must’ve flown off as it was gone when I looked back for it. DAMN. But an adult Night-Heron was further to the right! Decent consolation prize!
Got to the North end, and a group of Yellow-rumped Warblers were making their noises. Passed the Mallard Corner, and a man was feeding them with his friend standing next to him. The feeding man said to the ducks, “No fighting!” Clearly he hasn’t EVER read one of the MANY signs in the park saying that feeding the birds causes them to be more aggressive. You know, if SF Rec and Park would give me a uniform so I could look OFFICIAL so I could go around educating people who feed wildlife, I WOULD DO IT FOR FREE.
At Mallard Beach, the handful of ducks not being fed headed my way when they saw me. A couple Mallards, a couple American Coots, and four juvenile or female Ring-necked Ducks all wondered if I’d feed them. NOPE!
Arrived at the Southeast spot where you can see across the lake into a large tree where sometimes larger birds hang out on. Two Double-crested Cormorants were there. One above the other! A Belted Kingfisher made its hysterical noises. And another juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron was hanging out below. Lots going on right there!
As I was watching them all, a small group of Russian ladies stopped to see what I was looking at. One of them asked what the Cormorant was. I told her, and she wasn’t quite sure what the heck it was that I said. So I repeated, “It’s a Cormorant,” hoping that’d be a little easier to remember. She said, “Beautiful. I love when they are here, and they stay a while.” Same.
After watching a Red-shouldered Hawk just land high up in a euc, I inspected the newlyish plants at the Southwest corner of the lake. That same pink-purple Sage was doing well. And I happened to see a scattering of white fungi around them. The top of the more mature one looked like a Shaggy Parasol. But when I picked it out, the smaller one next to it came with! Didn’t mean to pluck two! But that was a first, seeing two joined together like that. Couldn’t see gills, hm!
Ok, GET THIS. I submitted it to iNat, and I guessed California Agaricus. Now, Alan on iNat hasn’t suggested or corrected any IDs of my fungi lately. And it honestly was making me a little worried. BUT, TODAY. Maybe an hour after I submitted my observation, he comes back with the suggestion of Green-spored Parasol. AND, THIS. He actually SAID SOMETHING with his suggestion. “Maybe.”
Okokok, he has never said anything with his suggestions. I don’t think. OMG, now I have to look back on all of them AND BE SURE. But, it’s not normal! He commented! On my observation! Not only would this be a newtome fungi, but ALAN SAID SOMETHING ON MY INAT OBSERVATION, FOLKS! I seriously cannot wait to meet him someday and become best friends.
In the middle of all those random Green-spored Parasols, I spotted ONE Chip Cherries mushroom. Just one. SO EXCITING. I love them. I love seeing that bright color here and there all through the Fall and Winter times. How I love this time of year!
I had finished my loop, and now it was time for OWLS. Ok, so I haven’t seen the Great Horned Owls of the Bison Paddock in some time. I had no idea if they were still on the nest tree side (South of JFK) or if they’d moved back to where they typically are when they don’t have kids in tow (North of JFK). My first instinct was the North. So I started there.
It was about half an hour until sunset. No hooting. Waited a bit, then headed South of JFK to wait and see there. No hooting. Headed back to JFK, and HOOTING. Male and then female. So faint, but it was definitely coming from the North side. Waited along the Bison fence for a bit. HOOTING. From the tallest tree next to all the Bison enclosures. So, INSIDE the Bison area.
Absolutely could not see them. They hooted for A WHILE. I planned to wait and see where they’d fly off to. When we’ve heard and seen them in the past, they always flew North. And, they did so again! The male flew out first, and was a bit West. The female soon followed. After more hootings, they flew North. Nice to know that’s still the case! At least, tonight!
I’m not really certain what was more of a highlight today. Seeing the GHOs over there after not seeing them in so long. Or Alan on iNat commenting on my fungi. It’s a coin toss, really.