Nov 16, 2017
Each season brings its own joy but fall in the Bay Area is spectacular – it’s not only one of our warmest seasons, but it’s one of our most colorful.
Have you noticed that it’s darker now in the mornings? The sun is rising later—and setting earlier, too. The days get noticeably shorter as it gets dark earlier each night. That golden magic hour at dawn and dusk which photographers seek out is less than 30 minutes now. Enjoy every minute.
Did you know that birds and butterflies migrate along the path of the Sun? Monarch butterflies are beginning to arrive in the park many seeking out nectar from milkweed growing around Rob Hill Campground. Migratory birds enroute to their southern wintering spots can be found throughout the park but especially near Crissy Marsh and in the woodlands near El Polin Spring.
Fall is seed and berry time, when the plants have mature fruit or seeds. Take a walk through the Presidio and you will find birds feasting on native plants like Tarweed (Madia sativa), Coyote Bush (Baccharis pilularis), Pacific Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) and the federally endangered San Francisco Lissengia (Lissengia germanorum). California native the Coast Live Oak Tree (Quercus Agrifolia) is also dropping its acorns, feeding an array of wild animals in the park including squirrels, scrub jays, woodpeckers, quail, and many others.
Breathe in. The outdoors is beginning to smell a bit different. Do you smell the air changing? Perhaps you smell the plants’ leaves browning or the fallen leaves on the ground?
After a rain, look for the fantastic fungi growing on the forest floor. These sometimes colorful, moisture-loving organisms “bloom” like flowers.
And of course, there are the fall colors to be enjoyed from the meadowlands at Presidio Tunnel Tops and Lobos Creek to the coastal scrub dunes found along Batteries to Bluffs trail. Keep an eye out for the grasses, ferns, shrubs and trees like the willows and big leaf maples that are beginning to turn vibrant shades of gold and auburn.
To learn more about what to look for this time of year, we rounded up two of the Presidio’s ecologists, Diony Gamoso and Marion Antonisen. They shared seven signs of fall in the park.