San Bruno Mountain (3/25/2023)

Today I brought Brian to see parts of San Bruno Mountain that he has never been to before. Plus one re-visit to the Secret Checker Lily Meadow.

First stop was to check on the Checker Lilies in the Brisbane Ravine. Last time I was at the Secret Checker Lily Meadow, there were no blooms out yet. On the way, past Firth Park, we saw some Laccaria and Pleated Marasmius (?) fungi and some Candlesnuff Fungus and a Hummingbird working on its nest and Milkmaids.

We took the detour trail that goes out to the Lagoon, which Brian hadn’t seen before. On the way, I spotted Springtime Amanitas (?) and Oak-loving Elfin Saddle in the same fungi spot as my last visit. AND, even some Checker Lilies started showing up. And more Pleated Marasmius (?). And some super fresh Coyote scat!

Made it to the clearing where you can see Brisbane below and the Lagoon beyond the mountain. And that same meadow area where I thought would likely be a fantastic place for Checker Lilies ABSOLUTELY WAS. OMG, SO MANY. All eating up the sunshine. Some Coast Rockcress and MANY California Poppies contributed to an impressive wildflower display.

After taking some photos of each other, we headed back. Seeing more Checker Lilies and some Paintbrush (just ONE) and a curious community of fungi that I wasn’t able to get a good specimen of for photos. Even with Brian’s immense help in avoiding Pacific Poison Oak. Hope to see those again someday where I can get to them!

Got up to the crossing, and I spotted a blue fairy butterfly! Patrolling the tall trees there. Likely an Acmon Blue, but my old digital camera was never going to have a chance at an IDable photo. BUT, first butterfly on SBM this year.

Made it to the Secret Checker Lily Meadow, and they were indeed OUT. Not the same peak as we’ve seen in the past, but still a special spot nonetheless. Brian walked up the earth staircase to take a look-see and reported many more were up there. Also in the meadow were Purple Sanicle and California Buttercups.

Noted some striking Golden Ear fungi before making our way back, stopping to admire the waterfall in the distance of Brisbane Ravine. Then we were off to the San Bruno Mountain Ecological Reserve.

So strange that it’s taken this long to bring Brian to this favorite part of mine. First stopped to show him the entrance to Owl Canyon and that FLIPPIN’ AMAZING wildflower meadow that looks EVEN MORE INCREDIBLE than my last visit. The California Golden Violets simply OWN THE PLACE now.

Then we made our last stop at Buckeye Canyon. And Brian was as blown away by the mudslide carnage as I had hoped he’d be. A Hermit Thrush greeted us. Some Common Star Lily and seemingly even more Milkmaids were along the new trail of rubble. Showed Brian the Shellmound spot. And made it to the Checker Lily and Pacific Hound’s Tongue hillside.

Unfortunately, the trails were still too dang wet to continue up! I honestly thought the sunny days of late would be enough, but no. In addition to the newtome Early Tachinid Fly that was just chilling on a leaf in the area, there were indeed Checker Lily blooms there. Far less Pacific Hound’s Tongue than last time, but a couple flowering plants were hanging in there.

The Oak Woodlands Wonderland that Brian got a taste of was in fine form. More lush than my last visit. And just showing off, really. We shall return another day when I can take him up and up and so he can reach the top like I did a while ago.

As we were reaching the road to leave the Reserve, a Hermit Thrush (same one, I think!) greeted us out. Don’t think I’ve seen one there before? Can’t be certain. But a welcome sight. Even if I do miss that Western Fence Lizard that was often in that area. Hopefully I’ll see it there again someday.

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