My Back Yard

“it suited me very well to do so and to rusticate in the forests and the streams”

-Captain Joshua Slocum

Every city, of any size, needs a place for it’s citizens to relax and find peace. A place to recharge or to participate in sport or to just nature loaf. The City of Saint Francis is blessed with the 1,017 acre Golden Gate Park, a park that is 20 percent larger than New York’s Central Park.

This park was birthed in the Outside Lands of San Francisco’s western edge, in sandy soil that no one thought anything would grow. But today, almost 130 years after it’s beginnings, Golden Gate Park boasts a large urban forest that provides habitat to many animals including coyotes, great horned owls, and hawks. The most viewed wildlife in the park are the 250 different bird species that occur here. There is one bird that has visited my back yard, pushed ahead of a massive northern storm front,  a Eurasian visitor, the very rare: rustic bunting.

This is a bird that will bring birders from all over the state and country. It is found in Northern Europe and Siberia and some have strayed to Alaska’s western Aleutian Islands. This male first year bird was first seen on December 7, a few days before a large weather system arrived in the Bay Area in the evening of December 10. This storm system dumped up to nine inches of rain on the drought-parched soil of California, creating power outages, urban flooding and closing schools (including my own). Every cloud have a silver lining and these dark storm clouds that brought wind and rain also brought a lost visitor from the east.

One of 17 life birds seen in Golden Gate Park: life bird #454, rustic bunting.

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