City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

July 7, 2017

June 27th

Seasonal Camouflage

3:00 p.m. Stink bugs along the road are changing colors to match the change to the browns of the summer season. A few weeks ago, Green Stink Bug (Chlorochroa sayi), also known as Say’s Stink Bug, were their characteristic light green color. Now, they turn brown to match the foliage. Even the canyon’s land shrimp, the common pill bug (Armadillidium vulgare), are turning from their usual spring dark grey color to a lighter tone.

Near mile 0.4, another insect well-colored to hide in the browning understory rests on the road. A golden-brown Giant western crane fly (Holorusia rubiginosa) is overwhelmed by the heat, and it does not flee on my approach. Its abdomen is a patchwork of golden brown, light-brown and sun yellow plates. From its abdomen, three two-inch long whip-like ovipositors extend.

Near mile 0.7, an immature Western rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus lutosus). It simultaneously coils and crawls backward as I walk forward to take a closer look at its delicate diamond pattern. Generally, rattlesnakes are peaceable. They give early warning and retire in the presence of humans, and their usual border of human conflict in the canyon comes with domestic dogs. Pet dogs have no experience with venomous snakes, and the must be initially restrained on a leash and trained that snakes are dangerous and are not playmates. Few owners take the time to do such training.

Although wild Wood rose has peaked, below the Red bridge at mile 0.8, a single late season blossom remains on a bush growing over the far stream bank. There, a second, fifteen foot long white blossoming bush clings to the stream bank – a Black hawthorne (Crataegus douglasii Lindl.). At the cattail seep below picnic site 6, Wild bunchgrass grows to two feet in height, and its large heads burst with seed.

At the peak of the day’s heat, the birds quiet and rest. I count only 10 bird calls hidden in the green ocean of the first road mile.

* * * *

Per Thoreau’s “Journal” on June 27th, 1852, he sees fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium). This is a common autumn plant in Utah’s Wasatch Front canyons. He notes that meadows are turning yellow-green in color. He describes a tree that has been hit by lightning. Large patches of bark had been stripped from the tree and it was split to its pith. He encounters a partridge with its brood, and sees a chestnut tree with buds. On June 27th, 1859, he examines a Luna moth (Attacus Luna).

* * * *

On June 27th, 1915, University Prof. J.H. Paul planned to present a lecture on bird calls at the Eighteenth Ward Chapel (2nd Avenue and A Street) and and to lead a group up City Creek Canyon in celebration of Bird Day (Salt Lake Herald).

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January 22, 2017

January 22nd

Filed under: Chokeberries, Colors, Meadow Mile 1.3, wild rose — canopus56 @ 9:21 pm

The Brown Ribbon

4:00 p.m. Yesterday’s heavy snowfall made the canyon a wonderful monotone white, and this emphasizes the stream. Usually, I do not notice the varying shades of brown of the stream, but now without the distraction of other colors, I perceive subtle variations of its dark brown bottom, the red of the bank’s soil, and various shades of brown stones sticking up above the water. There are a few other colors besides white snow, an overcast white sky, and grey tree trunks.

At mile 0.2 around the first bend from Guardhouse Gate, a chokeberry tree, a large wild rose, and a red osier dogwood (Aug. 31st, Nov. 6th) intertwine with their branches covered in snow. The chokeberry is one of the few that still retain many of its dark purple dried fruit, and these are suspended next to red bulbs of the wild rose bush. White, red, and purple provide a reminder of brighter colors now gone from the canyon, except for winter’s bright subtle pinks and yellows in the sunset. At mile 1.2 off of a side trial that leads to Pipeline Trail, there is one other notable example of a large wild rose bush. I have to shake the branches to reveal the color hidden underneath. There a wild rose bush is intertwined with a cultivar green apple tree. Some of the shriveled and ice-frozen fruit of the apple tree are plum or orange colored, and they contrast against the red buds of the wild rose and the snow. This is the largest wild rose bush in the canyon.

As I jog up canyon, there is man muttering to himself in revelry. “Fantastic”, “amazing”, “beautiful”, he stammers while he watches the snow covered trees and takes numerous photographs. He is in his early fifties and remarks that although he has lived in the city all of his life neither himself or his relatives have gone into the winter canyon during his lifetime. He rides bike here during the summer and recalls how as a boy, he and his friends would do annual summer hike. They would hike to the end of the canyon at camp near the divide with Morgan County. The next day they would hike out Hardscrabble Canyon and then to East Canyon, where their parents would pick them up. As we part, he notes, “it is strange how a man can be near something the like this, but never really see it.”

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on January 22nd, 1852, he turns a rock over and finds a colony of black ants. On January 22, 1854, he sees subtle hints of rainbow colors in the clear, setting sun sky. (These were probably due to ice crystals in the air.)

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