Golden Gate Park (11/22/2022)

Today I wandered in my backyard. Every major route plan seemed not possible in the hour and a half I had.

After crossing the ballfield and seeing a group of Common Ravens (appearing to prepare for a game on the baseball diamond, truly), I headed to the Monarch Bear Grove. Where a very large group of White-crowned Sparrows were OWNING THE PLACE. That’s right. It was ALL THEIRS. Noticed most of the acorns on the Coast Live Oaks there were GONE. Guess the harvesting is DONE.

I visited the CAS Botanical Garden. I thought maybe there’d be new fungi there since I last visited? And, I WAS RIGHT. A couple Chip Cherries were hiding alongside the trail. One that I pulled out was even growing out of a small piece of wood! I love when fungi do that.

For no reason, I felt like taking a step behind the tree throne. And right past my foot was a Chocolate Arion slug! I had JUST been thinking maybe I’d see one again when it was wet out right there. And it was flippin’ ADORABLE, snuggled next to a small rock about its size in a tiny clearing seemingly made just for the two of them. It wasn’t moving whatsoever. So maybe it was sleeping? OMG. I feel so lucky when I get to see one!

While over there, I noted some yellow leaves on a Coffeeberry bush. And I started thinking of native shrubs whose leaves turn Fall Colors. It’s one of the main reasons I love the CAS Botanical Garden so much. If I’m ever curious about some common CA Native Plants, I can always come here. Yeah, the SF Botanical Garden has a CA Native Plant Garden, but this one’s right out in the open. Behind no gate. That closes far too early!

So here’s another one to add to my list. Also, Pacific Poison Oak, which I hadn’t thought of yesterday. And Trailing Blackberry.

Oh! Speaking of yesterday. Two things. One, the Maple I was seeing randomly in Marin was perhaps the Bigleaf Maple? Native! And, it’s not Cherry-plum trees that have Fall Colors right now. It’s Kanzan Cherry. Rookie mistake.

Saw some Chaparral Currant flowering. Just a couple white clusters. But they stand out so much when there’s so little else flowering nearby. Also, seems EARLY.

As I was leaving, I spotted BRIGHT RED heart-shaped leaves hanging on a wall of a small structure near the driveway. Newtome and CA Native! California Wild Grape! No fruit, but I could see the tendrils where there would be. These leaves were CRAZY BRIGHT. Wish I didn’t have to wait til next year to look for fruit on them! Ah, well. Something to look forward to.

I was looking for any fungi underneath the shrubs past the driveway when I noticed a low wood fence that I don’t recall being there before. Right along the high fenced-in CAS garden there. It had some interesting plants behind it! Ironweed (also with Fall Colors and a CA Native) and Common Selfheal and yellow Black-eyed Susan Vine and Farewell-To-Spring. Neato!

Took the trail alongside the East end of the CAS, which I haven’t done in a while. And I spotted some new stuff there, too! Palmer’s Indian Mallow, perhaps? Nearby, an Orange-crowned Warbler was popping in and out of the low shrubs. Eating insects off the underside of leaves? I got NOT ONE decent photo of it. Which is no surprise.

Soon after it zoomed off, an Anna’s Hummingbird zoomed in and went to town on the Red-flowering Currant. Which is for some bizarre reason TOTALLY BLOOMING RIGHT NOW.

There were a handful of pumpkins placed intentionally here and there. And some had bites out of them. After noticing a new purple flower that I got such horrible photos of that there’s no way I can ID it, I noticed the yellowish leaves of a Western Redbud (I think). Another CA Native plant with Fall Colors. Turns out we have a decent amount! Just not the kinda thing you’d see driving, perhaps.

I took one last look back at the trail behind me and spotted an Eastern Gray Squirrel chowing down on one of the pumpkins. There’s one taker!

I headed to the owl nursery. No owls. And none around that I could find. Took a walk to the Lily Pond and tried listening for hoots while I was there. More Ring-necked Ducks were there. Otherwise, not much else going on since my last visit. The pond looks nice, though. Inviting, even?

I strolled here and there, listening for owls and looking for them. But I never heard or saw anything. Perhaps I was in the wrong place. Seems like last year they spent the Fall/Winter in the Secret Gardens versus the Lily Pond. Or, is it possible they don’t hoot EVERY NIGHT during Fall/Winter??

Good thing I’m able to head out there again near sunset to get another chance at finding them before the holiday weekend…

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