Golden Gate Park (3/8/2023)

Today I took advantage of another day without rain to get outside. Given that it should start raining tomorrow and might last until Tuesday (?!?), I wanted to maximize my Naturing time today. And, since I had a tour of the CAS Botany department (where I may start volunteering), I made my backyard my location of the day.

I decided to wear my Mushroom Socks from Yvonne, just in case it’d help me see fungi today. And those magical socks did not disappoint!!

Now, I spent about three hours in GGPark today. And visited many places. So I’m going to try and just focus on the noteworthy notes where I can. Here goes.

Started at the ballfield, where I was an unexpected witness to Anna Hummingbird courtship behavior. I think I was watching the female, perched and watching the display above her. Not quite sure where she landed with that.

Made my way through the Monarch Bear Grove, where Blueblossom is about to blossom, Purple Akeake is blossoming its tiny flowers, and Cherry Laurel still smells divine.

Had a little time, so I checked out the CAS Botanical Garden. In case the East trail was cleared of that tree. And it was! Brand new-looking wood chips on the trail, too. Got to see a hoard of Bushtits then a couple Chestnut-backed Chickadees make their way through a very-flowering Blueblossom shrub.

The Coffeeberry is starting to bloom there. And I was able to see the massive tree they had to cut through to re-open the trail. You’d never know it happened with the nice clean-up they did!

Found swarms of Black-tailed Bumble Bees and Western Honey Bees all over one of the Wartleaf Ceanothus bushes. Everyone was out enjoying the fruits of the rains and the temporary sunshine. Even a Hermit Thrush came out and didn’t mind being out in the open.

After my CAS tour, I noted a Red-tailed Hawk soaring above me and then continued the rest of the CAS Botanical Garden trails. Redwood Sorrel and Mahala Mat were blooming. And I made it to Anne’s Garden, which also apparently is part of the CAS (based on a plant sign, just like the others of theirs). The garden appears to be recovering from the storm damage. A California Flannelbush had one flower out. Scarlet Flax and that Larkspur I haven’t IDed yet were nice to see.

I saw that the Crabapple trees were blooming at the Shakespeare Garden, so I took a quick side visit. So pretty. But they don’t smell. As I would expect? Blossoms should smell, right?

Took that earth trail to the Music Concourse, instead of the paved path along the CAS. And I found fungi in about the same spot as I’ve seen before! THOSE SOCKS. I’m tellin’ ya! Maybe Scaly Rustgill? Kinda small, though. So adorable. Like two butterscotch candies in the ground. And SO DELIGHTFULLY ICE COLD.

Arrived at the Music Concourse, and a Townsend’s Warbler was bopping around in a Monterey Cypress tree. Somewhat below that was some pretty Coast Rockcress. Ahead was a Fox Sparrow, that gave me a DISTINCT look when I took its photo. And Scurfy Twiglets were just past it. It was really starting to feel like a Fungi Day.

Passed by some cute Lavender-cotton in the parking lot behind the Bandshell, and I decided to walk through the Japanese Tea Garden to see if they were right in claiming that Blossom Time had started. So nice I can get in for free as an SF resident whenever I want now!

The blossoms are just BARELY starting. Ahem. The newly restored Pagoda looks nice, though.

Made my way up through Squirrel Central and headed to the left to begin my clockwise route. But, NO. The sidewalk is blocked off for who knows how far in that direction! I swear this is something they should put in their weekly newsletter!! So I changed my plan and headed along the North side. Maybe Strawberry Hill would be open now?

Two Canada Geese were enjoying the empty Great Blue Heron rookery island. And they were making sure EVERYONE KNEW IT. I know the nest tree suffered some damage a bit ago, but it looked like even more had come down? Maybe?

While watching the Canada Geese couple, the Mallard couple, and the Ring-necked Duck couple casually begging below me, I caught sight of a Forktail (?) on one of the reeds in front of me. First Damselfly of the year for me!

Lucky me, Strawberry Hill was accessible. After admiring some hot pink Apple blossoms, I spotted a Ruby-crowned Kinglet with its ruby crown showing! It was hopping about in a shrub. I wasn’t able to get a photo of it (surprise, surprise), but it was allofasudden in the Red-flowering Currant bush right in front of me. It got shockingly close to me, again and again, that I thought it must not have realized I was a person yet. I stood still and watched it frantically looking for and sometimes eating bugs from under the leaves? It came SO CLOSE. SO MANY TIMES. And then maybe it noticed me, and it zoomed away. How I love my Winter Mascot.

Started up the staircase and saw a perfect duo of Chip Cherries. They’re still around! And just past them, I peered into one of those wood poles that are empty. And found a little community of Bonnets! Not convinced it’s a Nitrous Bonnet, as iNat suggested at the top of the list. Hopefully Alan on iNat will confirm or deny soon…

At the reservoir level, I was rewarded with MORE FUNGI. And this was ohsosatisfying, as my last visit proved fungiless. Spotted A TON more Scurfy Twiglets up there. And a large Deer Mushroom, perhaps? Goldleaf Shield, maybe? And Jelly Spot Fungus! After a quick inhale of some remaining Garden Heliotrope (does that plant ever not bloom?), I headed up to the top.

I rarely come to the top anymore. Unless it’s sunny, and I’m there early in the day (which is RARE), there’s no point. Only reason to go up is to see butterflies. But since I had ALL THE TIME, I thought I’d take a peek and see if the flowers up there were doing their job in enticing the butterflies.

And, meh. White Sage, but that’s about it. And, no butterflies. Just that one Anna’s Hummingbird, lording over its hilltop.

Took my favorite trail down toward the pretty bridge, since I could see from above that the sidewalk was clear there. They had cleaned up the tree in the lake, nice. But another large tree had come down on the West side. So much fallen tree management right now.

The Muscovy Duck youngsters were out. One of the pastel-colored Domestic Duck hybrids was also out, still hanging with that Mallard couple? Blackthorn blossoms were out and smelled nice. But those Yoshino Cherry blossoms further down smelled like nothing.

Lucky for me, blooming Sagewood was ahead. And I realized what a lovely Aroma Tour I was getting today.

The new fallen tree on the lake appeared to be making a nice chill-out spot for the fauna. A turtle was hanging on a branch. An American Coot navigated within its branches on the water. And a handful of Short-billed Gulls had claimed the main parts of the tree for themselves.

Continuing on, I had a fantastic surprise ahead. That precious Summer Snowflake flowering plant I love was not only still in the same area (that I thought had been plowed over), but there also appeared to be even MORE of them now?? All were blooming. So many dainty, droopy flowers!! I was FLIPPIN’ DELIGHTED. And if a man sitting on a bench nearby smoking hadn’t been, I would’ve stayed longer to enjoy them.

After passing by Canada Goose Island, I decided to visit the Stow Lake Picnic Area. And, as I had hoped, there were many Red-cage Fungus eggs in their usual spot! Would’ve been nice if just one had opened, but I can’t be greedy. That spot is so nice to know about. And so awesome that they are still going strong there right now.

Manuka and some Dally Pine and Red Angel’s Trumpets and regular Angel’s Trumpets and Grey-leaved Euryops made it feel like Spring over there. Took the back trail out, and I spotted more fungi in the usual spot. One I didn’t get good enough photos to ID. And the other were Red Edge Brittlestems, maybe? Alan?

Made my way to the Pioneer Trail, where Sagewood was enjoyed again. And Scurfy Twiglets were out. Watched a Yellow-rumped Warbler hopping about on the meadow. Heard a lot less of them today than in recent visits. A Hermit Thrush popped up and hung out long enough for me to get an ok photo of it. Watched another Ruby-crowned Kinglet (also with its ruby crown out!) bop about in the ivy, near where that Pacific Wren was calling.

Got to the Fairy Door, and I happened to catch sight of a Botta’s Pocket Gopher pulling grass down from below. Since I had so much time, I stood still for a bit to see if it might pop up at some point. After pulling down A TON of grass, it did! Its head came out. Saw its full face and gopher teeth. And it disappeared. Like they do.

Walked over to the no-longer-fenced-in blossom trees next to the Japanese Tea Garden and stopped to enjoy the Daffodils under them. At which point, a Great Blue Heron flew over my head and landed on a branch just above me! A sign that they might soon return to the rookery? Got a couple photos of it above me that I quite like. Hard to believe I could be impressed with my old digital camera! Gah, can’t wait to get my new one back…

Past the Music Concourse, spotted more Chip Cherries along the CAS fence. Made my way to the owl nursery and noticed blooming Lady Banks’ Rose. Have I seen that there before?

As I was wondering that, I heard A HOOT. FINALLY! It actually sounded like it was coming from above me. And, sure enough, Pa Owl was high up in the fakenesttree. It was kind of hard to see him well, even from the Slime Mold Lab Trail. Where there was a message board of Coyote Scat, hm!

It was a little more than a half hour til sunset, so I made a quick visit to the Lily Pond. Wondering if I might hear Ma Owl on the way there or back. And at the pond, in the same place as last time, on perhaps even the exact same branch, was that Snowy Egret again! Even the female Hooded Merganser was in her same spot as before, under the Willows. Deja vu, indeed. But, no Belted Kingfisher that I could hear.

I soon returned to Pa Owl. And I found a better view of him near the owl nursery. Where a woman walking her dog stopped to ask me if I was able to see the owl. I chatted with her, who’d only seen them in the owl nursery before. So I let her know they are typically there while raising their owlet and are elsewhere otherwise. She thanked me for the info. And I was pleased, as always, to play the unofficial Great Horned Owl Docent of GGPark.

Yes, I really need a badge for that.

Watched Pa Owl for a bit. Waiting to hear Ma Owl return the hoot. But I didn’t hear her. Just a Northern Flicker calling from a euc East of the owl nursery. And then it was time for me to head home to make dinner. So I didn’t see him fly off. Ah, well. Some meh owl photos for the owl fans below.

At least I saw one of them today, though! Visited so many places. Saw so much. It just might keep me sated for the next six days? And how I love to end my Naturing time with owls. Especially mine. All is right with the world. Yep.

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