Golden Gate Park (12/14/2022)

Today was my last day to finish up Fall research for The Book. And I had just an hour to visit the AIDS Memorial Grove and the Monarch Bear Grove one last time this season.

I’m lacking in fauna and fungi for both locations, so that’s what I was hoping to see. And while both locations kept steady in typically not having lots to see fauna-wise, I did see some new fungi and new birds for these locations. AND, I had TWO SURPRISES.

I started on the East end of the AIDS Memorial Grove and immediately saw a couple Chip Cherries and Green Alkanet before descending into the grove. Good start! Someone had laid out an impressively long and beautiful path of flower petals from the circle to a particular memorial stone. And on the other side of this flower petal path were two clusters of fungi!

They were large clusters that made me think they were Honey Mushrooms, but perhaps they’re Pholiota terrestris? What was neat was that there were two groups of them. One looked a bit older than the other. I don’t know why, but clustered fungi always look so friendly to me. Not quite sure what that’s about. But that’s the vibe I get.

I walked through the Coast Redwoods and saw no other fungi.

While walking slowly along the South path, I heard a Hermit Thrush and then saw it obscured in a bareish tree in front of me. Then, ALL OF A SUDDEN A FLIPPIN’ COOPER’S HAWK SWOOPED IN TRYING TO CATCH A FLIPPIN’ RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET! The Kinglet got away, and the Cooper’s Hawk turned right around and landed in a small tree not far from the attempt.

Okokok, so THIS WAS FLIPPIN AMAZING, FOLKS. This whole thing happened right in front of me, about EIGHT FEET FROM ME?? The Cooper’s Hawk sat in the tree for a little bit while I tried to get photos despite it being incredibly dark where it was. It soon flew off and into the Redwoods.

So, I have seen flyovers of Cooper’s Hawks (or Sharp-shinned Hawks, still can’t tell them apart) in the area before. A couple times, I think. But I’ve never seen one actually perched still before over there. TRES EXCITING, INDEED. And that the whole episode happened RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME like that was THRILLING.

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet disappeared. And I was able to move out of shock and continue Westward. Two Townsend’s Warblers were ahead and on the same hillside covered in layers of leaves. Too dark for my photos to come out.

Started heading up the creekside path. Heard a bird sound I didn’t quite recognize. Merlin’s Sound ID feature thought it was a White-throated Sparrow, but there was no way I was going to get a decent look of anything in there. That creek can get so dark! I was able to see a number of blooming Speckled Spur-flower, though. Their ghostly pinkish/purplish light-filled flowers almost glowed in the darkness.

Made it up to the Monarch Bear Grove, where the sun was just coming through the Coast Live Oaks. All was quiet, though I did finally see one of those super small white moth-looking things land for once! So small that my photos are crap. Should’ve tried my macro lens! Next time.

Took a seat at the stone circle and listened for any birds. Just as I gave up and stood up, a bunch of chattering started above me. Pygmy Nuthatches! Though, it’s tough to see up high in the trees right there. Noted California Sagewood fruiting and decided to head back for the other side of the AIDS Memorial Grove.

No Hummingbird at the top of the waterfall, but with no water flowing perhaps it’s not as enticing? Started heading down the other creekside path and spotted some fungi on that big log above the creek. What looked like super old and rotting Honey Mushrooms was on one end, with some Rosy Conk on the side at the other end.

Kept walking down and started seeing my breath. It was that chilly! Took a glance up and happened to see AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY OF FUNGI. They were all occupying a Town Square of sorts behind that large tree trunk. Honey Mushrooms (I think) and Candlesnuff Fungus and what looked like one and maybe two shelf fungi? SO MUCH GOING ON. I could’ve stayed there for a while just looking at it all, but the light was fading fast.

Just some Tutsan fruit and a handful of Stinking Hellebore flowers, and I had finished the creek walk. Took a seat at one of the wood benches on the North side of the path just to listen. And, HOOBOY, the American Robins were coming in to roost and talktalktalk about their day! I couldn’t believe how much chatter I heard. From behind and in front of me and even at the tops of the Redwoods. SO MANY. ALL TALKING.

And then outofnowhere a dog started barking opposite the lawn. It was high up on the hillside, so along the fence somewhere. BUT THAT WAS NO DOG. It started howl-screaming. And I’ve heard that before! A COYOTE was up there doing that! I’ve heard this howl-screaming before over along the Slime Mold Lab Trail. Got a recording of it and uploaded it to iNat since I never saw it emerge. That howl-screaming is something else. So hard to describe. So heartbreaking to hear. I hope the Coyote is ok.

Started my walk up the path to leave the AIDS Memorial Grove, and I swear to gawd I heard HOOTING. Coming from the Lily Pond. Now, I didn’t believe it at first, like I never do. How could the Great Horned Owls of the East hoot from way over there and have it carry over and through all those Redwoods to me? Dismissed it, and kept walking. Then I heard it again. Faint. But definitely it.

It is likely that today was my last visit to GGPark before we leave for Michigan. It’s hard to imagine. But that’s what it’s looking like. So, for me to hear one of my owls hooting as my last memory to last me til the new year? I’ll take it, you betcha.

2 thoughts on “Golden Gate Park (12/14/2022)

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