Golden Gate Park (11/9/2022)

Today I was very excited to be in my backyard. GGPark is always ohsonice after the rain. It smells great. The trails are soft and dark and quiet. And the flowers of Fall and Winter times come out.

I’M TALKING FUNGI, FOLKS. OMG. SO SO MANY FUNGI. Okokok, I FOOLISHLY thought I’d walk around Stow Lake then try to find my owls. It was sunny. It often leads me automatically to visit Stow Lake. But I veered toward Whiskey Hill. For some reason. Call it a Fungi Calling. At least, that’s what I think happened.

After admiring the Bigleaf Maple leaves on Whiskey Hill, I walked off trail to avoid big water puddles. My boots are still wet from yesterday’s adventures at Pillar Point (!), so I couldn’t be so carefree in my street sneakers. Got halfway around a euc when I noticed fungi amongst the grass and leaf litter. Red Edge Brittlestems! How I love those little mocha umbrellas. They were EVERYWHERE right there. Fantastic start! And reminded me then and there what I should have thought to plan and see today. Don’t know why I was thinking I’d need to wait a day or two? Fungi Time is NOW.

On my way to the AIDS Memorial Grove for The Book, I got to see a Hermit Thrush alongside Sharon Meadow. And a Botta’s Pocket Gopher. Briefly. Up on the trail along the tennis courts (which obviously needs a name – Tennis Trail?), a Ruby-crowned Kinglet let me know it was near me. And a Black Phoebe appeared to want everyone to know it could perch the highest. Spotted a couple large California Agaricus mushrooms on my walk down. Other Fungi Fairies had already been out, it seemed. It was one of many fungi I found already pulled up for viewing.

Before entering the AMG, I remembered that I’d seen some Chip Cherries mushrooms close to the bowling lawn some time ago. And thank gawd I remembered that, because a Chip Cherries BONANZA was over there! Okokok, but THEN. I happened to see a different kind of fungi close-by that didn’t look familiar. Newtome, and perhaps Pungent Slippery Jack? Super slippery cap and adorable stem. Short and stout and might grow to be quite large? Can’t wait to get that ID confirmed.

The AMG was quiet, as it often is. But some flora were happily showing off in the Autumn light. That Manzanita I haven’t IDed yet was flowering. Tree Anemone and White Australian Fuchsia and Myrtle berries and Lady’s Eardrops and Purple Coneflower and Topped Lavender and Menzies’ Baby Blue Eyes and Coastal Rosemary and French Lavender and Silver Spurflower. And this is FALL, folks.

But I must admit that the heart-shaped Redbud leaves won me over. I mean, THOSE COLORS.

On my way out, I saw another community of Red Edge Brittlestems and another California Agaricus growing under a Coast Redwood. I didn’t think many fungi grew under those, so that was a surprise. And that reminds me of something I wondered about while in the AMG. I was looking at the Japanese Maple leaves on the ground and wondered if fungi had any preference for native trees to grow under. But then, no. They grow on and under eucs. What is that about? Is there no preference? Do they know the difference? It’s all just astounding to me. But then I think about how the heck they reached GGPark when it was formerly sand dunes. BONKERS. Just bonkers.

At the Secret Mushroom Spot, I only saw a handful of Red Edge Brittlestems. No Mica Cap explosions. Oh! But that Artist’s Bracket is growing back! Really have to look that up. It broke off at some point last year, I think. And now it’s growing back as if nothing happened. Bizarre.

Also there was an Anna’s Hummingbird, calling and calling. Had a tiny bit of white something on the end of its beak. What the heck is that?

Walked down the back path and up the stone staircase to behind the Lily Pond. That patch of native plants looks sad right now. But, perhaps that’s expected in the Fall? Hoping more love is given to it. How fun would it be to have this secret native plant area for someone to find?

At the Lily Pond, Crinum moorei are still blooming. And now Mountain Grape is at it again. Saw some spiderwebs but no spiders. The pond looked alright, but it was relatively empty. However, that Hooded Merganser is back! With a gal pal! The two snoozed the whole time, boo.

But after seeing them, I looked up to see the Great Blue Heron of the Lily Pond high up in a tree! Perched and still and at peace, like they do. I think I would’ve noticed one up there before, but maybe I’ve missed it?? Now I need to always look there for it. And it’ll never be there again.

Took the back way to the owl nursery. Looked for any of them on the way. Nope. Wasn’t expecting to actually see them at the owl nursery, but I had to check. Just in case. After getting to the first clearing where you can see the owl nursery, I made it a couple steps past that Coast Live Oak on the left. And, A HOOT came from behind me!

I’ve never seen or heard them in this Oak before, so I never check it. But there Pa Owl was. Yes, I believe he saw me walk past him and made sure I knew he was there. No doubt.

He soon flew to the owl nursery, where Ma Owl was. Sleeping. He started hooting, and it sounded wheezy. Like he had a cold or something. It was this kind of weird hooting I’d heard before in The Presidio. I absolutely have to look up if Great Horned Owls can get colds or what.

He hooted A TON. Ma Owl joined from time to time. I was so happy just to stand and get that expected neck cramp while watching them become more and more awake or alert. With the delightful return to Standard Time, I was easily able to be there til sunset and a bit beyond. So I watched and waited for them to fly off and see if they’d fly to the East, like I’ve seen them do more often than not.

Someone came up and chatted with me about not having seen them for a week in this spot. Guess I picked a good day to visit! Another pair of folks stopped to watch and marvel and appreciate, which was nice.

After the folks left, Pa Owl flew off a little to the North and onto an exposed branch end. Right after he landed there, a Common Raven flew past. And he quickly returned to the owl nursery! Never saw that before! Is it because he has a cold? Or just doesn’t want to get harrassed to start his night? He remained at the owl nursery, doing his odd hoots.

Ma Owl then flew off to the East and first landed in that corner euc they like. Then to the Coast Live Oak near it. Then to a branch end. Always more and more East. Gah, how I wish I had Owl Vision Goggles to watch where they go once they get past the Lily Pond.

So, a fungi-filled Naturing, ending with quality time with my owls. Happy Wednesday to me.

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