City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

January 26, 2017

January 26th

Filed under: Black-billed magpie, Gambel's Oak, Sounds, Unidentified, Weather — canopus56 @ 10:35 pm

The White Tube Frozen

4:00 p.m. Throughout the morning, a light snow falls and this refreshes the snow on the trees in the canyon. It remains in the twenties during the night and into the day, and as a result, the snow that has accumulated on branches remains. The White Tube (Nov. 24th and 25th) has continued since last January 21st (“Snow Storm”) through today. In this regard, the January White Tube differs from its November counterpart. In November, the snow quickly melted raining water and slush droplets on the road’s walkers and runners. Now, the White Tube is frozen in time; nothing melts.

The canyon is extraordinarily quiet; there is no city rumble intruding into the canyon. There are only a few other walkers, runners and bicyclists. I find myself stopping every third-of-a-mile and just to listen to sounds. Every golden note from the stream is relatively loud and crisp. Where the road runs immediately adjacent to the stream and its spill-ponds, I stop and I am entranced by stream-song.

High on the south-east ridge at the entrance to Pleasant Valley, a group of Black-billed magpies have congregated in a Gambel’s oak copse. Although they are distant, their distinct profile with their long tails gives them away. Over this ridgeline copse, the silhouette of a large raptor appears. It is too far to identify, but the black shape suggests it is an eagle. It is traversing the canyon to the western ridge using continuous strong flaps to gain altitude. In contrast during the summer, great thermals effortlessly carrying the soaring raptors from ridge to ridge. A lone Northern flicker is heard in the woods. Unseen under the snowpack, squirrels and Rocky mountain deer mice lead hidden lives.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on January 26th, 1853, he observes that some snow drifts in regular spaced bands.

A letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Herald proposes two alternatives to the City Engineer’s proposal to spend $400,000 to buy up water rights in Big Cottonwood Canyon. First, was to build a reservoir in City Creek Canyon.

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