The Presidio + Golden Gate Park (12/12/2022)

Today I did a wee bit o’ Naturing in the Presidio before and after my Tunnel Tops volunteer shift. Then I had a very strategic plan of Naturing for The Book in GGPark.

Before my shift, I visited Quartermaster Reach Marsh. Cheery Beach Suncup was eating up the sunshine. And, the whole place was delightfully FULL. It is RARE that I’ve ever been there when it wasn’t low tide for whatever reason. It looked so much bigger with all that extra water! And the birds were loving it. Double-crested Cormorants and American Coots and some Sandpipers that flew away before I could see them well and a Snowy Egret. And over at Crissy Lagoon, Brown Pelicans and Snowy Egrets (maybe, 10??) were all near the bridge.

After my shift, I took a look at the middle of the lagoon and saw some Buffleheads and the same group of Snowy Egrets and a Great Egret AND some Red-breasted Mergansers! Always exciting to see a bird I’ve not often seen before. But, DANG. They’d be up for like TWO SECONDS before diving down. Over and over and over again. Most of my photos were splash circles from where they JUST WERE. A couple came out ok. I’ll take what I can get with them!

Onto GGPark, where I planned to cover three locations for The Book: Chain of Lakes Garden, Mallard Lake, and The Oasis. I don’t have lots of Naturing time left before the official start of Winter, which oddly coincides with us leaving for Michigan for Christmas. Still have gaps for these spots, mostly of fauna. Today I filled in a little for all and found a bunch of fungi!

The fungi finds were literally A JOY TO SEE. See, I haven’t seen much fungi before in these places. I think it’s the timing of when I’ve gone in the past two years and the rains. So, it was incredible to see WHAT LIES BENEATH.

In addition to the single Pot Marigold blooming, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet that bopped around in front of me about three feet from my knees (!!), that dang Sage I’ll never ID, and a single Scarlet Monkeyflower in bloom, I saw some fungi! Hairy Curtain Crust (I think) and Red Edge Brittlestem (only known because Alan on iNat corrected my Conical Brittlestem guess!). And on my way out, a Fox Sparrow let me take photos of it. Good visit.

Onto Mallard Lake, where I finally got photos of those dang trees between the lake and the street. Plane? Sycamore? Still need to work on that ID.

While I was trying to get photos of said tree, I happened to look to my left and see an odd shape and coloring in the Willows. A Black-crowned Night-Heron was in there! Super exciting, as I’ve seen one at Mallard Lake maybe just one or two times before. So perhaps THIS is where to look for them going forward! I only got crap photos, after trying from three different locations. But that’s what it was in there!

Turned to my right and a Wood Duck got startled and flew West! It joined up with a male and two female Mallards, who all bee-lined for me once they saw me standing there. The Wood Duck followed, but it kept its distance from me. Like they do. They hate the paparazzi. Also super exciting, as I’ve never seen a Wood Duck at Mallard Lake before.

Hairy Curtain Crust was also there, along with a Pied-billed Grebe, some bizarro Wrinkled Crust (?) on an Ngaio tree, and some Fragrant Funnels! Also, walking from Mallard Lake on the trail to The Oasis, more fungi was out. Chip Cherries and Purple-edge Bonnets and more Hairy Curtain Crust. Such bounty on that connecting trail! It made up for all the other birds hiding from me.

Over at The Oasis, more Chip Cherries were dotting the grass. Some of these were big and had that lovely wet glossiness on them. And I found some Bonnets, but Alan on iNat wasn’t able to confirm the species, dangit.

Further on, a crazy large Western Deer Mushroom was standing proudly at an angle under that Abyssinian Banana tree. A big chunk of it was bitten off! Those gill teeth are quite frightening. Also found some Scurfy Twiglets on the interior trail.

On my walk back through The Oasis, I heard a Red-shouldered Hawk crying. Looked up, and one was on top of the cut-off fern trunk thing! Never seen it up there before. And, weirdly enough, it wasn’t crying. There was ANOTHER Red-shouldered Hawk on the other side of MLK, crying away. Couldn’t find it, boo.

I took one last look at Mallard Lake before heading to my car. Heard bird sounds I didn’t recognize, and Merlin’s Sound ID feature believed I was hearing a Common Yellowthroat! Since I wasn’t able to see it, and the sounds were coming from the South side of the lake and the island, I can’t be sure. Because now I’ve forgotten what it sounded like. UGH.

BUT, I was able to cross off THREE things from my list, plus all the bird bounty in The Presidio. Productive and satisfying day!

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