Golden Gate Park (1/6/2023)

Today was the best day to get outside, so I did. And, unsurprisingly, I went to my backyard.

Now, I don’t want you to think that I’ve given up all other locations in SF. I haven’t. It’s just that when the days are short, I get the most out of going somewhere close-by. And with me catching Brian’s cold after all (though, thankfully, a seemingly minor version of it), it also sounded good not to venture out too far. Not feeling 100% right now.

For whatever reason, I felt like visiting the Chain of Lakes Garden. Heading out there, I decided to take the 25th entrance and drive along MLK out West to survey any storm damage. A couple large trees were down just past the entrance, but nothing else seemed too dramatic.

Passed Middle Lake, and they are definitely prepping it for something! Can’t wait!

Heading into my favorite way into the COL Garden via the Chain of Lakes Vortex, there was clear evidence a windy storm had come through. And, many a Scurfy Twiglet was spotted! And even a couple Chip Cherries.

Approached the small uphill bit to the Garden and could see what was once a flowing stream of storm water beneath my feet. Just to my left was a sturdy growth of Dyer’s Polypore fungus. It’s been a while since I’ve seen those. And, I’m a little impressed with myself that I guessed right on that on iNat, yep, yep.

The Red-flowering Currant is blooming so loverly at the Garden right now. I love how much of it is there, just opposite the formal garden and paths. And, lucky me, the sun decided to creep in on the place right as I was stepping into it.

To my delight, a couple False Chanterelles were soon at my feet and had been recently plucked. First time seeing those there! Though, I thought it was odd that all I saw were plucked ones. Nothing remaining. But about five plucked. Hm.

As I was reflecting on that, a BUMBLEBEE flew out of the tree right next to me! Must be a hole in the trunk. That it lives in? But, a Bee then flew out, and I wasn’t sure what was going on. But, TERRIBLY EXCITING to see a Bumblebee this time of year.

The Garden appeared to survive mostly unscathed. One path was blocked by some downed branches, but that was about it. It was also just green all over. With tiny bits of pink dotted here and there by the Hummingbird Sage and Sandrose Mallow and Wall Germander. Spotted a teeny tiny baby Red-flowering Currant plant sprouting up along the stones of the path, which made me smile. And that same (?) Bumblebee zoomed onto a Red-flowering Currant flower right in front of me. Good that those bloom early for them!

Not too much damage or blooms or fungi going on behind the Garden. But a tiny plant rising out of Australian Tea Tree knots was fun to see. Further back, I came upon even more plucked False Chanterelles. And I couldn’t understand it. Why did so many need to be pulled by some particular Fungi Fairy? Nearby, a community of Chip Cherries looked untouched.

Just before I left, a Hermit Thrush started calling from within a tree. Hoped it’d come out, but no.

I headed to North Lake to do the loop there. After hearing waymorebirds from the very start compared to the Garden, I noticed something odd on a tree stump. Evidence of fungi clusters. Some looked like they’d broken off, from age? But a number of the smaller ones appeared to have mold on them. WHA? I’ve never seen mold on fungi in the field before. Need to read up on that.

Got to the spot that used to be the Feeding Spot (before one of the big trees came down a while back), and many birds were zooming into the place. Like Fox Sparrows and Golden-crowned Sparrows and California Towhees and Dark Eyed-Juncos. I thought it must’ve been That Time of Day to eat, but then I saw a small pile of bird-seed-looking stuff on the ground.

And then, I wondered. Feeding wildlife is bad. So, is there a difference with bird feeders? If someone puts out a bunch of bird-seed on the ground, is that any different than putting it into bird feeders?

Saw something that looked like Netted Crust on a twig of a branch that made me think it (whatever it is) should be called Fried Egg Fungi. Also saw what looked to me like a juvenile (maybe, first year?) Yellow-rumped Warbler that was flycatching. A Sage-leaved Rock-Rose section was going OFF. And a Steller’s Jay did its best to hide an acorn into a tree above me. At least, that’s what I think it was doing.

I sat on that bench with a weird view for my snack break, and a Townsend’s Warbler was dancing about in the trees on the island in front of me. Then, a bird flew right past me and onto the skinny tree directly ahead. Brown Creeper! And it creeped up and up it. Then flew to an even smaller tree near me and did the same for some time while I was able to get some decent photos of it. They are never still!

Moving on, I caught sight of what looked like a Warbling Vireo in some bushes, but it went out of sight alltooquickly, like they do. I was looking for it when a brighthotpink flash caught my eye. An Anna’s Hummingbird was nestled among the bush’s branches, but I was in a perfect line to see its gorgeous gorget.

Of course, my best attempts at capturing it were when it was just behind a tiny branch. But I was able to find another angle to watch it preen for some time. I don’t know why, but I could easily watch (and often have) a Hummingbird preen FOR A WHILE. It’s amazing how fast they are! And how much their body heaves while doing it.

Coming around the Northwest corner, I was able to spot one juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron napping in a usual spot. I quickly made my way to the North end to get a view of the other side, but I was sidetracked by some whitefuzzyfungi on a tree log. Newtome, FOR SURE. Turns out it’s Splitgill Mushroom, and dang is it so cute. They look like white furry paws!

From the Northeast, I could see more birds on the lake, like Northern Shovelers and a Pied-Billed Grebe and some American Coots and some Mallards and some Hooded Mergansers and some Buffleheads and even some Ruddy Ducks! The Ruddy Ducks were all sleeping, and they never came out of their naps for me while I was there.

But three more juvenile Black-crowned Night-Herons could be seen from the Mallard Beach. And one adult! I spent some time there, enjoying the Buffleheads diving and the Northern Shovelers shoveling and the Coot’s feet in the water so close to me.

On my way out, I stopped to look at that big tree that often has birds in it. And three Double-crested Cormorants were indeed there. Heard then saw a Belted Kingfisher, which soon flew out of sight right after I got my eyes on it with my binocs. I was sad not to have been able to find it again, but I couldn’t help but enjoy hearing it (and maybe another?) making their funny calls as I walked away.

It’s supposed to rain off and on for a bit starting tomorrow, so it’s hard to know when I’ll get to go out Naturing again. It’s a bummer to be rained out, and yet it’s so fantastic to be RAINED OUT.

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