Today I got to GO OUTSIDE OMGOMGOMG!!! It’s been ROUGH not getting my regular Naturing on lately. My show and the rain and studying for my exam have all kept me from being outside lately! But, TODAY. I got to play in my backyard.
I had a clear AGENDA for today. I had three places left on my list to re-visit for The Book for Winter. And today I checked them all off. Mallard Lake and The Oasis and the AIDS Memorial Grove. DONE.
I admit I was expecting to see a bit more fungi after all THE RAIN, but maybe most of the biggies are already past their time?
Started off at Mallard Lake, and you could tell that the fauna was verymuchappreciating THE SUNSHINE. I’ve never seen so many birds there! After admiring the new catkins on the Willows right alongside MLK, I stopped to watch all kinds of birds. There were Yellow-rumped Warblers (GALORE), a couple American Robins, at least one Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Hermit Thrush, an Anna’s Hummingbird (I think?), and a Black Phoebe flycatching. This is all just what I could easily see from one spot.
Lucky me, the Hummingbird kept moving around me. Zooming from one tiny branch to another, all within eight feet or so of me. Those FEET!
Made my way to the West end to do my counter-clockwise route, and I passed some Gulls and a Mallard Couple on the way. No sign of that Black-crowned Night-Heron again. At the very West end, there was a construction A-Frame with some yellow tape. Trail blocked?? Turns out a big tree came down onto the trail! But it looked quite safe to me, so I proceeded ahead with the right amount of tiny caution.
Aside from the downed tree, new things of note were that the California Buckeyes there all have fresh leaves on them now. Couple bright red Baby Sage still. That mysterious purple Sage. A Red-berried Elder tree I never noticed before that was starting to bloom. But dang Ivy was choking its branch, so I removed it so the dang branch and leaves and eventual flowers can breathe! Some Netted Crust fungi, maybe? A female Bufflehead. European Carp gathering to breathe from the surface at the same time. And a Song Sparrow that kinda appeared to follow me a little?
Got to the East end, and a huge Pine had come down across the stone creek! That’s going to be fun to cut up and move, hooboy. Apparently, it killed part of a large Cotoneaster tree in the process. But the stone creek looks ok!
Moving on to The Oasis, some Violetbushes greeted me first. And Song Sparrows calling, as usual. A Red-shouldered Hawk was crying across MLK. After noting the cool-looking stack of bark layers on a Pine stump, I enjoyed seeing Redvein Abutilon and continued my disturbed reaction to that weird Abyssinian Banana tree, whose single flower is even longer now.
It kind of looked like a significant amount of the section alongside MLK had a ton of wood chips covering much of it. Hm! Wonder if they’re doing something there… Velvet Groundsel flowers were dominating the place. Baby ferns were popping up. And I found something PRETTY ODD over at the East end.
Looked down below the Blackberry bushes to see what looked like three small and white blobs all together. Kinda looked like the eggs of a Red-cage Fungus, which I’ve seen in the area before. On the far West end. Like once. But, THESE. They felt spongey. I moved one, and they all came up together. As if they were no longer attached. But the cracked ones were WEIRD LOOKING. Like, nothing at all what I’d expect if they were egg remnants of Red-cage Fungus! But I uploaded the photos I took, and that was iNat’s first guess. SO BIZARRE.
Left The Middle of GGPark for the AIDS Memorial Grove. Found ONE beauty of a Chip Cherries mushroom, hiding in the Redwood Grove. And I came across two birds on the South side that I’d seen there not so long ago. A Townsend’s Warbler, making its way through a Chinese Fringe Flower bush. And a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, bopping around above and below and all around it.
Weird thing was that the Townsend’s Warbler had a dark bump on top of its beak. Know what that is, Bob? Some buildup of food, like the stuff on Ruby-crowned Kinglets’ beaks when they eat eucalyptus flowers?
A couple Wild Daffodils, some newtome Geranium (I think), a couple Rock Crane’s-bills, and some Alumroot were all newly bloomed since I was last there.
With my research done, I ventured to see about the Great Horned Owls of the East. I had so not forgotten the ABSOLUTE STRANGENESS of seeing one of them in the owl nursery last time. And I intended to find out WHAT WAS GOING ON.
After stopping to watch a Brown Creeper and a Golden-crowned Sparrow, I confirmed that no one was in the owl nursery. I figured I’d hang at the Lily Pond until it was hooting time to find them. But there were SURPRISES THERE…
First, a flippin’ Snowy Egret was hanging in the area usually reserved for the Great Blue Heron of the Lily Pond! That’s a first. For me. For the Lily Pond. I’m pretty sure. WOW! It was just chillin’ on a branch, like nothing. Many folks who walked past stopped to admire “the Crane.”
Yellow-rumped Warblers were still around. One Ring-necked Duck. The usual Black Phoebe. Some of those random Daffodils are blooming.
And then I heard a familiar sound. A bird sound. But one that seemed so entirely out of place. Because IT WAS. A FLIPPIN’ BELTED KINGFISHER was calling! DEFINITELY have never heard nor seen one there before! It called and called. It made four stops, that it seemingly just continued to repeat. The Southwest corner, the Northwest corner, the North Willows, the far East end. Even saw it dive and maybe catch a fish from the pond??
It was QUITE EXCITING, I must say. If only I had an amazing camera. I’ve never been able to get a truly satisfying photo of one. I’m always too far from them for my camera. But it was ohsocool to watch this one making the rounds at the Lily Pond!
Chatted with a Brit guy about it for a spell, who was also delighted to see it (also knowing it was a rare sight for the Lily Pond). And even chatted with a lady about it for a spell, who was intrigued to know where I’ve typically seen them (North Lake), as she didn’t know of it and was happy to learn of it.
After getting my fill of the visiting Belted Kingfisher, I noted the pleasing framing of a Hooded Merganser couple under the Willows and headed out to find the GHOs.
Ok, so I didn’t find them. Didn’t HEAR THEM. HM! Was it too windy? Or are they not hooting because they’re NESTING?? Ok, so there might’ve been another factor.
A Crow Parliament session was taking place East of the Lily Pond, as it does from time to time. And it may have been literally impossible to have heard the owls. If they were anywhere nearby. Maybe they were keeping quiet because of all the crows? Might they also be East of the Lily Pond, as they have been many times in the past? Need to look over there next time.
So, yeah. I gave up! Wasn’t going to happen!
Made one last loop so I could walk on the Slime Mold Lab Trail. Stopped to notice newtome lichen, Common Powderhorn, on the way, neat! On the SMLT, I didn’t see any new slime molds. But some Red-berried Elder flowers were out! After taking a photo, I looked down to see if any fungi were about, as that is a good spot for a couple different kinds.
And a new one was there! Not newtome but in a newtome location! A couple small groups of Phaeoclavulina myceliosa, a coral fungus! Something is very special about THAT SPOT. I think I could even see remnants of Candlesnuff Fungus nearby.
Took the back trail along the South side back to my car. And I stopped when I thought I might’ve heard a hoot. But the crows were REALLY getting into some fierce debates right then, and I realized it was a hopeless endeavor. I stood there, looking at the tall trees at the edge of the Secret Garden. Wondering where they were. And allofasudden a Ruby-crowned Kinglet flew RIGHT PAST ME and into a tree RIGHT BEHIND ME, maybe TWO FEET from my face. And it just stayed there for a little bit. And it was one of Those Moments. And it left. And I felt like that special moment was a good way to end my Naturing today.