City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

January 17, 2017

January 16th

Filed under: mile 0.5, milepost 1.5, Mule Deer, Owl, Sounds — canopus56 @ 4:18 am

Owl Calls

5:00 p.m. The city air is increasingly poor as the inversion layer builds, and the bad air seeps up into the canyon. I endeavor to jog high enough to reach above it, and since it is a holiday, there are many runners on the road with the same goal. On a late evening jog to milepost 1.5, there are two deer grazing at mile 0.3 on the snow melted south wall of the canyon. Because it is a holiday, there is no city rumble. The noise feels at a minimum, but I measure background noise at 40 decibels. Footfalls can be heard as individual steps for each passerby. Near milepost 1.0, I photograph the sawed-off end of a large tree trunk, intending in the future to count its rings. In the silence at milepost 1.5, the two owls heard on January 11th again call to each other in the twilight. Going down canyon, a third is heard near mile 0.4.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on January 16th, 1857, he describes sedge grass encased in a thick layer of ice. On January 16th, 1860, he describes a feeding technique of sparrows. They grab branches and shake them to cause the seeds to fall to the ground.

On January 16th, 1878, a group of citizens led by H.P. Kimball had proposed to the city that the city lay a waterline over the City ridge, probably to the high Avenues. The Avenues were then called the “Dry Bench” because homeowners had to haul water by hand to their homes from the lower Avenues. A committee appointed by the City Council to examine the matter did not recommend adoption of the proposal (Salt Lake Herald).

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December 3, 2016

December 3rd

Filed under: Brown or Norwegian rat, mile 0.5, picnic site 4 — canopus56 @ 4:39 pm

Mystery Hole

Noon. On November 15th, 2016, I again check the mystery hole near milepost 0.5. Ten paces past the milepost 0.5 sign on the south side of the road is five inch diameter hole with well-worn, smooth sides. It is the burrow home of some type of a mammal, but which one? The hole is too large for a snake or for a squirrel. The hole was also dug in damp consolidated clay, a material that squirrels do not favor. The burrow may be part of a larger underground network of tunnels. About 75 feet north of this mystery hole, there are three raised, disturbed spots in the ground that may be other closed off entrances. I do not want to reach down into the hole to seek further clues, but last month, I covered the top with leaves, and there has been no movement. Even Sophie, my border collie jogging companion did not get a scent hit off the hole (Nov. 14th). The burrow is empty. Consulting my guides, the best prospect for the hole’s maker is the Brown or Norwegian rat (Rattus norvegicus), a common urban pest. Today, December 3rd, the mystery hole is buried under the snow. Will it be reoccupied in the spring?

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on December 3rd, 1857, he tells of turning over a rock and discovering an winter ant colony with eggs.

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