Golden Gate Park (3/22/2023)

Today I was excited to go outside after this recent storm! It is so bizarre to think of how often I have had to wait this year for the rain to stop to go Naturing. Absolutely BIZARRE.

After randomly seeing three different kinds of fungi (Agaricus, I think, and a Scurfy Twiglet and something I couldn’t ID or photograph because it was far enough away behind a fence!) on my way to and from a doctor’s appointment today in the city, I thought I might see some fungi sights today in my backyard.


But I first started up Whiskey Hill. As I was approaching the 5th Avenue path, I heard a Red-shouldered Hawk, then saw one flying in. When I got a decent sight line, there were TWO! Right near each other. Had I just missed some mating going on?? Soon after, one flew off. The other remained and posed nicely for me. Have I ever seen two Red-shouldered Hawks near each other that weren’t siblings? Hmmmmm.

The Coast Live Oaks there are starting to produce catkins. They look like they’re getting dressed up for something. BECAUSE THEY ARE.

Managed to find a Scurfy Twiglet off one of the narrow trails up there. Neat. And closer to the East end, I spotted a couple Mulch Maids (?) in the spot where I’ve seen Spring Fieldcaps before. The one I plucked for photos just happened to have what looks like maybe a bird skull piece below it??

Walked past the Carousel and Sharon Studio to be very pleased by the sight of baby Lupine plants on the Lawn Bowling side. Yay!

Took a loop past Robin Williams Meadow, through the trees (where I once saw a Varied Thrush and have never seen one there since), and back toward the tennis courts. Enjoyed seeing Red-berried Elder and Pokeweed in bloom. And Brush Cherry is apparently fruiting and already dropping its fruit!

The tennis court hill was uneventful, but it was nice to see so much flowering Blueblossom on the hillsides. A huge tree came down near the end that crashed into other trees. SO MUCH TREE DAMAGE today.

Spotted a good number of Mulch Maids (?) right before visiting the Secret Mushroom Spot. After taking note of the Field Elm samarae (those flat and round fruit seed things) that are now out that I love, I arrived to find NOTHING. Shouldn’t these Mica Cap explosions be happening by now?? This spot is not delivering based on the name I gave it. Not at all. But the Blueblossom is very much doing their job. And a Lilly Pilly tree there was fruiting LIKE CRAZY.

Took the back way up to the East end of the Lily Pond, where I used to spend so much time back in my early Naturing days. Hanging with Ruby-crowned Kinglets and following the Great Horned Owls of the East. Back when they favored that area. Today, a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglets were there to greet me, along with a couple Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker and a Townsend’s Warbler and a Brown Creeper.

Even heard a Hutton’s Vireo, saw it in the distance, but never managed to get a photo.

Down at the Tree Fern Dell, that path is now open again! And things were relatively quiet at the Lily Pond. Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Black Phoebe and some Ring-necked Ducks were there. Took a seat on one of the benches for my snack break, and I soon heard super loud wing-flapping on the other side of bushes in front of me. Got up to find a Double-crested Cormorant had arrived there without me seeing it and was air-drying like there was no tomorrow. It soon flew to the East end of the pond then flew back out West and out of the area. I guess sometimes all you need is a couple minutes at the Lily Pond.

It then started to rain lightly. Did the forecast mention ANY CHANCE of rain this afternoon? NO, IT DID NOT.

Then came time to see if I could find my GHOs. See, this is the beginning of the Dark Days. Just after Daylight Savings Time is when it happens. Sunset is allofasudden inconveniently (for me) around dinner time. And it just gets worse from there. So it’s quite difficult to be out Naturing near or at sunset. PLUS, about now is when the GHOs may be nesting. So less hooting. And today was one of THOSE DAYS.

After not hearing or seeing them, I wandered through the Secret Gardens. And I caught sight of a Northern Flicker that was moving higher up into a dense tree. Tried finding it up there and failed. Walked a bit up toward Lila’s Hill and then spotted it in an entirely leafless tree! Unobstructed!!

Another Northern Flicker was calling further away, too!

Grabbed my old digital camera (five days and counting til I might get my fixed new one!), but I only managed to get one photo of it before it flew off. The rain didn’t help. And I love its pose. Wish its head were more in focus. Ah, well. You can’t always get what you want.

Nearby, a Hermit Thrush was also entirely out and on top of a bent tree branch. Something they don’t do that often when I’ve seen them. Does the rain make birds a bit more daring? Are they harder to see by predators in the rain?

Noted how pretty one of the Dawn Redwoods looked with all its new and bright green leaves. Stopped to take a photo of one of the California Scrub-Jays perched in a tree. Then a flash of color swooped onto grass ahead of me. One of the Northern Flickers came onto the grass, and the other one soon followed. A pair! They quickly got to work, poking into the grass and eating up what they found. It was so fun to watch. And have I ever seen a male and female together like this before?

After they flew off, I got to walk directly under that Monterey Cypress and take stock of a community of Blewits. SO MANY. And, so many were pulled up or maybe eaten? I don’t know what it is about them, but they are so attractive to me. That pink-purple hue is so unique!

Made one last stop before heading home. After spotting some Agaricus and one broken Chip Cherries, I was at the CAS Botanical Garden. I was curious if the resident Chocolate Arion slug was out with all the recent rains. It wasn’t. BUT! I got see A BUNCH of Red-cage Fungus eggs under the Wax Myrtle trees, like I’ve seen there before. No blooms yet. A number of eggs and one that looked broken open. But no red cage. Looked like a tiny, baby dinosaur had already crawled out! Gah, how they fascinate me.

One final and glorious sniff of Cherry Laurel, and I made my way through the Monarch Bear Grove for home. Disappointed I wasn’t able to hear or see my owls. But excited to see fungi communities and TWO FLIPPIN’ NORTHERN FLICKERS hanging out on the grass like flippin’ American Robins today!

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