Golden Gate Park (11/28/2022)

Today I had an informational interview with one of the Co-Directors for the CAS’ Center for Biodiversity and Community Science. I met her (and the other Co-Director) recentlyish at the Tidepool Survey at Pillar Point. So great that one of them was willing to chat with me!

Just before that, I did a short walk in the CAS Botanical Garden. SO QUIET. But then, it was SO WINDY. AND COLD. No signs of any Arion slugs. But I did manage to see some blooming California Hedge Nettle right near the back entrance to the CAS, which was charming to see.

After my interview, I didn’t have a ton of time before sunset.

All was quiet on the East side, near the newish plantings I’ve been enjoying recently. But I did see what looked like California Agaricus under some Common Yarrow that I don’t believe was there last week.

So I headed to check in on the Great Horned Owls of the East. No owls at the owl nursery. Or on the Slime Mold Lab Trail. But slime molds (almost all entirely collapsed) were on both logs! They all looked the same. That white blob that eventually turns into brown dust. Which might be Dog Vomit Slime Mold?

Walked on down the path to the Lily Pond. And as I approached that Coast Live Oak I’ve seen Ma Owl in a handful of times, THERE THEY WERE. Not only were they in the same tree, but they were on the same branch and about a foot apart? This is RARE. Perhaps it was so windy and cold that they roosted close to each other? It was kinda almost TOO ADORABLE to see them almost side by side, I must say. More owl photos for the owl fans below.

Pa Owl saw me first and tried to give me some Crazy Eyes. But you know when he does that all I can do is giggle. He’s so funny. A nearby Squirrel tried to do something similar, but I was unfazed.

Both owls weren’t moving much, so I strolled down to the Lily Pond for a brief visit. Before I got to the pond, they started hooting. Pa Owl, then Ma Owl, then Pa Owl again. Right on time, about a half hour before sunset!

It was DANG QUIET at the Lily Pond. Always seems to be when it’s cold and windy out. No bird was on the pond or on the log or in the distance. One Black Phoebe was flycatching in the middle. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet bopped around in the blackberry bushes. And I think I maybe saw an Orange-crowned Warbler eversobriefly?

I returned to the owls and watched. They took turns preening. And hooting. And stretching. A group of folks stopped to see what I was looking at, and they enjoyed seeing them for a spell. One of the women asked me, “Do you work at the Cal Academy?” I told her I didn’t (at least, NOT YET!), but that this was my backyard. The man told me a Barn Owl used to be near where he used to live in the city. And they got on their way. The same woman asked me if I had named them. “Ma Owl and Pa Owl,” I replied. Are those names?

The wind was picking up, and it made me wonder. I’d read that they don’t hoot when it’s windy. So THAT was a lie. But it did make me think if the wind makes it harder for them to hear. Like, hear their prey. Do they eat less when it’s windy?

Around sunset, they started walking and hopping into place to leave the tree. They both flew across the path and over my head and into nearby trees on low branches. After a couple minutes, Ma Owl flew South to somewhere closer to the Lily Pond. And Pa Owl remained. It was getting colder and colder. And at one point, he looked right at me. As if to say, “You still here?” And it made me feel like it was time to leave. You never want to outstay your welcome with the owls, folks.