Today I visited my backyard. I decided to do the Greatest Hits, but I never quite made it to the Lily Pond because of THE SHOWDOWN. More on that later…
So, I didn’t have my binocs. I couldn’t find them, and Brian was on a call, so I had to leave without them. NOT OK. I don’t think I can ever go out again without them. I felt like an appendage of mine was missing the whole time. BECAUSE, IT WAS. Hooboy, that shan’t happen again. EVER.
Ok. First off, I just HAD to make an official visit to a new garden. On my way to Happy Hour at the bandshell last Friday, I noticed what seemed like a brand new garden that burst open out of nowhere. It’s just Southeast of the Shakespeare Garden. Remember how they recently planted things there? There’s a whole row of Yarrow and other things creating a barrier to the secret South entrance to the Shakespeare Garden. And more recently, they planted even more things just Southeast of that. But I’d only seen tiny hints there so far.
BUT, NOW. My gawd, there is just SO MUCH THERE RIGHT NOW, FOLKS. Mostly native plants, too! And crops, even! Okokok, let me tell you. Newtome Pitcher’s Stitchwort, newtome Scarlet Flax, Cornflower, Artichoke Thistle (with artichokes!), newtome Annual Toadflax (I think? In so many colors! And it should really be called Bunnyflax!), newtome Dogfennel, Redflower Buckwheat, Farewell-To-Spring, newtome Sweet William Catchfly, Elegant Clarkia, California Poppy, Globe Candytuft, and Purple Chinese Houses.
All of that, plus other whatnots like Blueblossom and California Flannelbush and Fava Bean. And even other things I just couldn’t take in because it was JUST SO MUCH. I wanted to sit and admire that garden, but I pulled myself away. And, it needs a name. It DESERVES a name. I’ll have to think on that. Anyhoo, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. RIGHT NOW.
On my way to Stow Lake, I noticed Cherry Laurel fruiting, Red Angel’s Trumpet, and Impatiens hochstetteri (which obviously and desperately needs a common name, something like “Butterfly Balsam” or something?) along MLK. Then I got to the Japanese Tea Garden corner. And the fence that used to separate the Cherry-Plum trees was GONE. JUST VANISHED. That whole space is open now? To walk among the trees? I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Felt so WRONG. Maybe I’ll have to work up to it. Someday.
Stow Lake was pretty quiet, except there were many turtles in Turtle Cove. And a speckled duck unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Common Silverweed was blooming, which made me wonder if it’s also blooming over at the Sierran Tree Frog spot? Blackberries are getting quite ripe around there. And Bittersweet Nightshade and Hawthorn is fruiting.
Made my way to the Pioneer Trail and saw lovely Bigleaf Hydrangea greet me at the entrance. Mexican Mock Orange is blooming again, cones are very abundant on that Douglas Fir over there, and the blackberries are even sweeter on that trail. They recently put a bunch of wood chip things on the trail. Looks nice! And maybe will deter bicyclists from using it? One can only hope!
A mosquito tried to make a play for my hand, so I quickly went on my way. But I had to stop and observe a new fungi on those huge logs under the blackerry bushes. Pretty much have no idea what it is. Alan shall come to my rescue on iNat!
Over at the Fairy Door, the Himalayan Balsam is going bonkers and looks like it’s devouring the Dawn Redwoods there!
Made a quick stop in the Rhododendron Dell to note the Chinese Quince fruit that was almost everywhere on that shrub. I’ve never seen it fruiting! Neat! Two more quick stops to smell some Dally Pine and document the Belladonna Lilies in the Secret Gardens before I got to THE SHOWDOWN.
Oh, wait! First, while smelling the Dally Pine, I saw a Red-tailed Hawk fly over from the CAS area to JFK. Continuing on from the Dally Pine, I saw it fly over again in the opposite direction and land in a tree. I found it, surprising even me since I didn’t have my dang binocs. And, it was eating something! Guess it flew off, grabbed a meal, and flew back to enjoy it. I couldn’t tell what it was. But it was interesting to watch it, through my digital camera. It often looked up and around while eating it. And that made me wonder what it was concerned about. They don’t have predators. Would another raptor steal it?? At one point, it looked right at me. And I felt like I’d watched long enough. I mean, I don’t like it when people watch me eat either!
Alright, so I was looking at some House Finches, and a large bird flew into my peripheral vision. It was AN OWL. It came from the owl nursery direction and landed in the fake nest tree. It was Pa Owl! He landed on his spit of a twig branch. But something was WEIRD. He got into a pose I’ve never seen them do before. He was hunched a little and had his wings spread out behind him, making him look at least twice as large.
THEN, another raptor swooped in and maybe tried to divebomb Pa Owl?? It was tough to tell what it was, but I guessed Red-tailed Hawk. My Point Reyes CalNat instructor said something once that has stuck with me. He said, when he was spending time with a raptor expert that the expert said when you’re IDing raptors you’re pretty much trying to confirm it’s NOT a Red-tailed Hawk. So, even though that’s not what it looked like to me, I’m guessing that’s what it was. Hoping iNat gets back to me on that!
Ok, so there was A LOT of Pa Owl in this same stance FOR A WHILE, while the intruder kept changing branches on that same tree. I decided to risk missing a bit of the action to head up the trail to get closer. Jays were squawking like crazy right then! And by the time I got there, the intruder had left. Pa Owl was looking around with the brightest and widest yellow eyes I’ve ever seen on him. And he started to settle down into his usual pose. The birds started to slowly return to their normal business. And I finally resumed breathing again. DANG!
It was amazing to see a GHO in that stance and now know sometimes it has to do that! Oh, and Pa Owl was facing West in that stance and blinked his eyes constantly. It kind of looked like it was maybe difficult to see? Facing blazing sunlight bouncing off everything in front of him? That’s my guess! But, yeah. Fascinating to ever see new behavior from them.
While everyone (including me) was calming down from all of it, I spotted a Hummingbird that looked like it was begging (fluttering its wings while stationary on a tiny branch). And another Hummingbird was flying above it, making a noise. Anna’s Hummingbird, I’m guessing. But, I’ve never knowingly seen a juvenile Hummingbird before. Do they beg like other birds? It made me laugh to think that all this ACTION was going on, and a hungry juvenile bird just wanted SOME FOOD, PLEASE!
No owls that I could find were in the owl nursery. Maybe they flew in closer to watch the Raptor Fight?? What drama. I feel pretty lucky to have seen it. And just lucky period to have my backyard. Yeah.