Saturday, May 8, 2010

Places I'm visiting: Strybing Arboretum at Golden Gate Park (May 8, 2010)

I took a walk around Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park this morning after a tasty breakfast at Park Chow, on Ninth St., near the Ninth St. entrance to the park. It's been about a year since last visiting and the place looks wonderful. Many of the pathways have been redone and most of the unsightly untended areas have been weeded and replanted. The place looks great. Everything is in bloom at the moment. It's well worth a visit right now.

In the cactus and succulent section I spent about an hour watching birds, including Pygmy Nuthatches, Anna's Hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbirds (although these may have been Allen's Hummingbirds), White-crowned Sparrows, and Song Sparrows. The sparrows were drinking nectar from huge, chartreuse Puya chilensis blossoms. According to an Internet search, the main pollinator of this plant in its native habitat (arid hillsides in the Andes between about 300 and 1,000 meters) is Curaeus curaeus, the Austral Blackbird, but the sparrows were certainly providing pollination services here. I photographed a Song Sparrow (middle photo) and a White-crowned Sparrow (bottom photo) each with a saffron head. I guess that's one way to confuse a beginning bird watcher. I also got a good shot of one of the hummingbirds (photo above).

By the way, a proposal is being made to start charging admission to the Arboretum--which would be a shame. If you agree, you can help by signing the petition at Keep the Arboretum Free.

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