Golden Gate Park (1/1/2023)

Today was my first day back! I had grand ideas of perhaps re-visiting Cascade Canyon in Fairfax to see the waterfall flowing with Brian, but his cold kept him at home. I also realized that perhaps being too close to it having just rained might cause all kinds of problems. And then, it’s a Sunday. And after being away for almost two weeks, I realized I wanted to see how my backyard was doing after ALL THAT RAIN.

I absolutely expected to see fungi in abundance, given how much it’s rained since I’ve been away. And I took maybe seven steps into the actual park before I spotted some! Red Edge Brittlestems? I’m quite bad at telling the Brittlestems apart.

After crossing MLK and stepping into the ballfield area, I heard and saw Song Sparrows, then a Hermit Thrush, and then a Ruby-crowned Kinglet all from the same spot. Such a nice welcoming party! The park was also chock-full of people. I’m not used to it, as I avoid going on the weekends. So it took a bit getting used to.

Crossed the ballfield and headed into the Monarch Bear Grove. The entrance had been washed down into a center groove where wood chips had been. I need to remember that with gushing rain, it’d be worth getting out into it just to see all the temporary streams…

It was relatively quiet, but I spotted some fungi I’ve never seen there before! Along with a bunch of Honey Mushrooms, I also spotted Scurfy Twiglets (two little ones coming out of opposite ends of the tiniest wood chip slice) and Chip Cherries. And some folks (kids and adults) were climbing some of the Coast Live Oaks there, which was actually nice to witness.

I crossed the meadow leading to Pelosi Dr. and caught sight of a raptor flying into that super tall Monterey Cypress (?) tree they’re often in. A Red-tailed Hawk sat there proudly and surveyed the area.

I had heard a Northern Flicker to the left of the meadow as I approached the Red-tailed Hawk, so I quickly returned to find it. Sounded like maybe there were two over there? Heard it a little more, and then nothing. I just happened to turn and see one landing on a new branch, but it was so obscured. Then it was gone. Tried unsuccessfully to find it again, but no luck. How they elude me!

Took the CAS Botanical Garden trails to see how they fared the recent storm. Not much to write home about. I honestly was expecting flooding and downed trees, given the couple of “Closed” signs I’d seen the day prior while running errands. The entrance to 25th Ave. off Lincoln was coned off. And a “Closed” sign for the Chain of Lakes was posted over there. It was nice to see that there wasn’t anywhere near as much damage as I’d been led to believe.

More Honey Mushrooms were out at the CAS Botanical Garden. No sign of the Chocolate Arion slug. And some of what look like baby Coast Redwoods had wood posts around them to keep them safe.

Took a quick look at that newish garden that I’m now calling Anne’s Garden (just outside the Shakespeare Garden on Pelosi Dr.), and it’s a mess! Looks like a crazy wind storm knocked everything over. But a number of the plants are still up. Wonder how they’ll look after the next storm this coming week…

Saw more blooming Chaparral Currant (?) and a Blewit (I think) along the path to the Music Concourse. Apologies for anyone getting tired of the Currant photos, but I can’t help it. They are pink and white jewels that I never tire of seeing.

Walked along the sidewalk the skateboarders are usually at and noticed a newtome flora, Chinese Holly? Tiny whiteish flowers and bright red berries. Just past it, another new garden with similar flowers to Anne’s Garden lined the edge of the parking garage entrance. I wonder how many of these gardens are around in the park now?

Took the back way behind the Bandshell, and a group of Dark-eyed Juncos were foraging. With them was a Townsend’s Warbler that gave me curious looks that cracked me up.

Up at Stow Lake was where you could really tell the rains had been. The edges are flowing over and onto grass and other plants that line the lake. I wonder how all those baby Mosquitofish are handling it!

A group of Buffleheads and a Hooded Merganser couple were near the largest group of Northern Shovelers I’ve ever seen all shoveling together. Typically, I’ve seen them in pairs doing their shoveling circles, but today they were joining forces!

Got to the start of the Pioneer Trail, and lovely Sagewood was scenting the air for me. Further on, American Robins are still owning the Log Cabin meadow. And while I stood to debate having my snack on the wet picnic tables there, a Woodpecker flew in front of me and into a small tree! This Nuttall’s Woodpecker was still and not moving, except for its head, which turned left and right and on and on. Maybe looking for whatever it was flying away from?

I’ve never seen a Woodpecker be so still before! Made me want to protect it from what it kept looking out for. Eventually, it was apparently safe to scooch up the thin tree trunk a little and poke at it.

Continuing on, I found Bleeding Fairy Helmet mushrooms on that huge tree log where I’ve seen them before! I love their pink color and that they come in little groups. Found the biggest one among them and plucked it. I’ve never done so before with a Bleeding Fairy Helmet, so I was DELIGHTED to discover that it SO TOTALLY BLED on me after doing so! My fingertip looked like I had pricked it! Gah, that was so cool.

Further on, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet was getting closer and closer to me when it was scared off by two bicyclists. I wish they weren’t allowed on that trail. Just past that, a large tree had come down and was lying off the trail edge. First tree down spotted!

Scurfy Twiglets were gathering in numbers near the end. And an impressive display of gifts was at the Fairy Door.

I made my way to see about the Great Horned Owls of the East. I thought maybe they’d be huddling together through the recent rains? Passed the Slime Mold Lab Trail, and hooting was ahead. They were both high up and near each other in a Monterey Pine. Right where the path was coned off due to large branches (from that tree?) that came down.

It was hard to hear the hooting well enough from Pa Owl to indicate if he had that cold or not. The unfortunately loud music nearby made it tough to tell. They seemed their usual selves, preening and stretching and hooting. No good photos. It was getting dark, and they were so high up and under thick branches. But I’ll share one owl photo below for the owl fans.

I left them before they flew off for the night and headed to the Slime Mold Lab Trail, where I was not disappointed! Along with the prior faded bits of Dog Vomit Slime Mold (that I think has been there for maybe months now??), I spotted some tiny orange orbs all strewn alongside each other. Jury is still out on that one… But so exciting to see!

Found perhaps the calling Orange-crowned Sparrow I’d heard when I was with the GHOs on the trail, which was satisfying, and headed on my way home. Crossed Pelosi Dr. and as I was about halfway up the meadow, A COYOTE came out of the shrubs to the right! This was maybe fifteen feet in front of me?? It stopped when I did and looked at me. I froze, OF COURSE, and slowly brought up my camera. It trotted off in its original path toward the street, and my dang camera would not take any photos because it was TOO DANG DARK.

Note to self, use your dang iPhone camera when it’s dark out for photos of things relatively close to you!!

The Coyote crossed the street and continued on and into the owl nursery. Always thrilling to see one, especially so close!

So, a full day in my backyard. Yep. And it makes perfect sense I ended up there on this first day of the year, right?

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