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.

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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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September 20, 2016

July 30th

Filed under: Mammals, People, Rattlesnake, Reptiles, Squirrel — canopus56 @ 10:36 pm

Another Dead Squirrel

3 p.m. Along the roadside, I find my 3rd dead squirrel in the last two weeks, and I quickly dispatch the corpse to the underbrush. Like the others, this specimen shows no signs of natural depredation or human cause death such as an impact with a car or by hunting. Each appears otherwise fat and healthy. How are they expiring? Over the last month, I’ve seen four snakes sunning themselves along the roadside, two of which were rattlesnakes. Perhaps they are the culprits, but the squirrels were too large even for the snakes, with their detached jaws, to swallow. Or perhaps they have simply died from heat exhaustion. This has been an extremely hot summer and wrapped in their winter coats, the squirrels may not be able to withstand temperatures that are consistently over 100 degrees.


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