Golden Gate Park (4/27/2023)

Today was my CAS volunteer gig, so I did a bit of Naturing before and after.

On the way, all was quiet at the Monarch Bear Grove, until I got to the new garden. Just before I turned the corner, glowing magenta Midland Hawthorn flowers teased me to come visit them. And I did.

But once I did turn that corner, many pollinators were buzzing about the quite tall plants there. And I happened to catch sight of a Skipper! My first this year! I think?? It was an Umber Skipper, which are common in GGPark. But this one was doing something intriguing. It landed and started fluttering its wings. While ANOTHER Skipper zig-zagged all around it!

I watched some kind of courtship going on, but they kept moving from place to place. Nothing certain that I saw. But it was so fun to see them do something I’ve never seen them do before.

And then ANOTHER SKIPPER came in, and it was a dazzling whirlwind of chasing with ALL THREE OF THEM. They ultimately chased around and out of my sight. So not only did I see my first Skipper of the year, but I saw THREE AT A TIME! Which I think I’ve never seen before?

Walked through the CAS Botanical Garden, which I keep forgetting to ask my supervisor Ricardo what they call it at CAS… No new Red-cage Fungus. No birds that I could see. But as I walked out of the first trail, ANOTHER UMBER SKIPPER flew in front of me and landed. Umber Skipper Day, yep!

After I passed the CAS Business Entrance, I noticed A TON of darling Redwood Sorrel flowers under the Redwoods. And past that, Douglas Irises were blooming. In a couple different colors, of course. Coffeeberry was starting to show its berries. And California Phacelia was out in full force in one specific spot.

Don’t think I’ve noted it before, but there’s a Red-tailed Hawk nest that you can see from the CAS Business Entrance. I checked it today, and she is in the same spot as before. Will now be checking there every week. And I need to try seeing it from the rooftop sometime, in case there’s a good view of it from there…

Walked into the CAS to start my shift, and I immediately overheard a conversation from a group of folks passing me on my way. Where someone said, “That is mind-blowing Salvia.” Yeah, I volunteer at a super cool place, folks.

After recording specimens taken by Alice Eastwood and ones from before 1900 and an early one from Knights Ferry (which we’ve been through before and may pass through again soon on our upcoming trip?) as part of my volunteering, I ventured into the Secret Gardens.

There are newly planted trees at the benches facing Lila’s Hill. Magnolias. Which I like. But, really? I’ve been having the same thoughts every time I’m in the Secret Gardens lately. Why aren’t there more butterflies? Why are there so few native flowers? If there’s anywhere in GGPark that would be RIPE for native gardens and butterflies, it is THERE.

Away with all the Rhododendrons, and get native butterfly host plants in there, please!!

Too funny that right after having these thoughts, I spotted a lovely Star Magnolia that I had to stop and ohh and ahh over. So. Yeah.

Nope, I didn’t find a Great Horned Owl. And I’m feeling like the owlet has to be out by now. I’ve seen an iNat observation of a GHO owlet already this year. I got so lucky last year, finding it on Lila’s Hill. But I can’t believe it’s almost May, and I haven’t found it yet!!

I strolled over to the Lily Pond. Where I found my first Goldenrod Crab Spider of the year! It was even in the first Calla Lily I peeked into.

Not a single bird was on the pond! But I did spot a Dragonfly cruising over it. First time, I think! It never stayed still or was in good view, so I have no idea what it was, sadly. Wondering if those new plants in the pond itself are welcoming for them? Otherwise, the pond looked quite inviting. To me.

Heard a Wilson’s Warbler but could never find it. Heard a strange bird sound but could never find it. Didn’t seem like any of the birds that Merlin’s Bird ID feature gave me matched, except for a Great-tailed Grackle. But that’s nutso, right?

So much of the Secret Gardens and Lily Pond are being swallowed up by non-native grasses right now. Bring in the goats!

On my way home to make dinner, I had to stop and admire a blooming California Flannelbush alongside CAS East. Made me think of the one I planted at Black Point Historic Gardens. Hope it’s doing well over there.

I’m coming to realize that my Naturing before and after my volunteering at the CAS is not enough. Need to plan ahead and make it so that I’m not cooking dinner on Thursday nights so I can stay out longer in my backyard. Yep.

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