City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

January 30, 2017

January 30th

Filed under: Birds, Elk, milepost 1.5, Sounds — canopus56 @ 8:52 pm

Wing Flutter

4:30 p.m. Because of the inversion layer, the air quality index on this clear day is in the unhealthy range of 150 and about 55 micrograms of PM 2.5 dust for each cubic meter of air. There are no air quality monitoring stations in the canyon, but a private station up Emigration Canyon also reads an AQI of 150. At milepost 1.5 in City Creek, on Black Mountain, the trees are no longer white frosted (Jan. 27th), but are again green. Black Mountain is seen through a dusty haze and as the sun sets is glows pink, not yellow, from the air pollution.

Turning down-canyon, two events quickly happen in the twilight. On the high west ridge the silhouette of a large bull elk appears. He has large antler rack that is visible to the naked eye from almost a mile away. Through my monocular, I count five points on each antler. This bull is safe from hunters (Jan. 27th); only taking antler-less elk is currently legal, and the antler-less hunt ends tomorrow.

Next, a flock of small birds silently flies about fifty feet overhead traveling up-canyon. There are about seventy-five in all, and although there is simple city rumble noise (Jan. 14th), I can hear the delicate sound of their wings fluttering in the thick cold air. In the dimming light I cannot identify them, but I suspect that they are European house sparrows. A owl and three chickadees are heard but not seen. At one of the spring seeps near mile 0.7, another unidentified bird lands a tuft of grass in the seeps and expertly dips down to take a sip of the cold trickle of water. It flits to another tuft and then repeats this twice before flying off.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on January 31st, 1852, he enjoys how snow lays in decks on pine trees. On January 31st, 1854, he remarks how simple sounds of sparrows or buds on a tree provide relief from winter.

On January 30th, 1877, Carl Dahlgreen displayed his painting of Pleasant Valley, City Creek Canyon at the Salt Lake Tribune offices (Salt Lake Tribune). It is one of his series of Utah landscapes. Carl Dahlgreen (a.k.a Charles Dahlgren) immigrated from Denmark to Salt Lake City in 1870 where he opened an art school. In 1878, he moved to California and become a noted California landscape painter (askArt, Family History). The current location of his painting of Pleasant Valley is unknown.

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