February 18, 2020

February 17-18th, 2020 - Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space

February 17-18
Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space

Sunrise 7:18 am
Sun at 36 degrees altitude (180 degrees south)
Sunset 6:05 pm
approx. = 10 hours 47minutes of daylight

High today = 37 degrees

Days are getting longer with sun moving across the southern sky higher and higher.
The spring equinox is Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 9:49 pm MDT – about 30 days away.

In Wasatch Hollow, I was able to observe in the last two days: Northern Flickers, Black-capped Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Black-billed Magpies.

The Black-billed Magpies (BBMs) were in full force yesterday with about 10 ganging up on a Sharp-shinned Hawk (SSHA). The BBMs basically followed and harassed the SSHA relentlessly in Wasatch Hollow – near the back loop area – from tree to tree – they would go after the SSHA – and this went on for about 20 minutes.

The SSHA went after one Magpie – and I have several images of that encounter; but note that they SSHA was not trying to “take down” the Magpie (the BBM was 2x larger than the SSHA), but was trying to defend itself…and soon other BBMs would join in – and it was all too much for the SSHA to handle.

I wondered how much energy the SSHA had expended in this ordeal…and I observed how much attention a Hawk – will quickly draw in the Magpies.

here is one field note to consider: if you are walking in that area and you HEAR and SEE many Magpies dive bombing in and out a tree – and squawking – there is good possibility of an Accipiter nearby…Look up and see what the Magpies are doing…in this case – they sat within 5 feet away from the SSHA – basically alarming all other animals (birds that may be prey) in the area.

Posted on February 18, 2020 23:05 by hawksthree hawksthree | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 08, 2020

Wasatch Hollow and Nature Preserve and Open Space - Journal February 8 – 9th, 2020

Wasatch Hollow and Nature Preserve Journal
February 8 – 9th, 2020

Sunrise 7:30 am and sunset at 5:53 pm; at the noon hour the sun will be at 34 degrees (angle) in the southern sky – which means the sun is slowly climbing higher into the sky – for a longer period of time since winter solstice in Dec. 2019. The nature preserve is now experiencing about 10 and half hours of daylight – about an hour and 15 minutes more since solstice.

But, of course it is still “winter.” And last week, “true” winter hit the nature preserve with 12 inches of snow and lows in the single digits (+ wind chill factor). I walked the open space trail right after the storm – and it was a quiet walk – nothing was out. Birds and mammals shut down and hidden from sight. I was the first time – on a walk – that I did not see at least one bird in the area. The creek (Emigration Creek) was frozen over, but I could hear water running under the ice surface.

I proposed in earlier journals that when the SUN was out (during the winter months) this would be the catalyst for more active observations of birds – mammals. But on a walk yesterday the temperatures were in the mid 40’s (felt like a warm spell – like March weather), and yet the sky was overcast – and a light rain was in the area. Nevertheless, the “warmer” temperatures seemed to ignite the activity of birds and mammals: I observed Northern Flickers, Downy Woodpeckers, Black-caped Chickadees, Magpies, and Lesser Goldfinches. I observed one American Red Squirrel and two (2) Fox Squirrels on the walk.

The creek was running high due to the snow melt and the trail was still full of wet snow.

I am waiting for the time when the equinox will be around the corner – and the first signs of new plants – vegetation will emerge, but that will be at least another 30 days or so.

But with the days getting longer and the sun climbing higher in the sky – the incremental steps toward spring weather – is happening.

I look forward to more observations – and sometimes envy – the photos and observations of iNatters in states where winter is barely a notion…but here along the Wasatch Front – and at about 5,000 feet – one has to be patient and realize the a lot of life is going through the seasonal cycle….hibernation, dormancy, and “sleep.”

Posted on February 08, 2020 13:34 by hawksthree hawksthree | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 26, 2020

Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space – Journal - January 25, 2020

Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space – Journal
January 25, 2020

The sunrise is at 7:43 am and the sun at noon will be at 31 degrees altitude (climbing higher in the sky – in the south 180 degree) and the sun will set at 5:37 pm. The nature area is looking at about 09:53:13 in total daylight – I can sense the shift already in terms of an earlier sunrise and later sunset.

The temperature in the Open Space was an incredibly “warm” 48 degrees and the sun came out in the afternoon – after a long morning of dense fog.

With the sun out, I could sense that the birds would be out as well. I was able to observe American Robins and Cedar Waxwings in the Hawthorne trees eating the “leftover” berries – on the walk to the nature preserve.

In the Nature Preserve and Open Space the Chickadees and Juncos were out in full force. I observed one Fox Squirrel. And the highlight of the day was to observe three Red-Tailed Hawks circling high above the open space taking advantage of the warmer winds from the south – and I imagined they were riding thermals up and up – and then eventually heading over to the Red Butte garden area along the bench area there 0f the Wasatch Mountains.

The trail was muddy and the snow melt created a messy walk in the open space.

Again, many dog tracks in the protected area indicating that people are still walking their dogs in the protected space.

I look forward to longer days and the spring weather to help increase plant and animal observations for the iNaturalist and the Open Space inventory of species.

Posted on January 26, 2020 14:35 by hawksthree hawksthree | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 20, 2020

Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space January 18, 19, 20 – Journal

Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space
January 18, 19, 20 – Journal

Since the winter solstice (Dec. 2019), the nature area has experienced a gain of about 30 minutes in additional sunlight (day length = approx.9 hours 41 minutes) with sunrise at 7:47 am and sunset at 5:28 pm and at noon the sun is at an approximate 29 degree angle in the southern sky – rising higher each day.

Today (Sunday) the temperature reached about 40 degrees and it felt like a cool early March day given the bright sun (no clouds) – and with these conditions, I could sense that the birds would be out in the early afternoon.

As soon as I entered the nature preserve, I observed a Red-tailed Hawk flying slowly over the open space area (to the north) and it was just about 20 feet above the tree-line. The Red-tailed Hawk landed on the top of a telephone pole and as I walked up to get better images, if flew off further into the open space area. I have some images of the Hawk launching from the top of the pole, but I would not use these for posting for Research Grade, but rather as images for observations purposes. It was good to see the Red-tailed Hawk again after the winter conditions in the past few days.

After going through the gate and into the Nature Preserve and toward the Open Space area, I observed an Accipiter (genus) Hawk on a branch in large tree near the creek - but it was also overhanging the trail underneath. I think it was a Cooper’s Hawk (COHA) – given the characteristics versus a Sharp-shinned Hawk (SSHA) and given my capacity to observe the front and back of the COHA as I walked along the trail. I was fortunate to gather several images of the Hawk perching and in flight and yet – I was still not happy with the results, but this is the downside of the 2x “telephoto” on an iPhone camera. I think the Hawk is a male (smaller size) Cooper’s (COHA) and it hangs around this area frequently (depending on the weather). It flew away – but (not) surprisingly, on the way back (the round trip on the trail in the open space – about 40 minutes later) – the COHA was back! On the same limb – the same branch on the tree!

Going further into the Open Space – (the first loop), I was able to observe the usual suspects of birds: Northern Flicker (4 different birds); Woodhouse Scrub Jay; Juncos; Chickadees; Magpies. I saw a few Fox Squirrels, but they were further away on distant trees outside of the open space boundaries.

On the way back from the second loop (farthest from the entrance and at the north end), I stopped to observe Magpies go into their “gang” mode; that is many were flocking into on tree on the other side of the creek (east). I knew something was up…because when they do this…it can also mean (based on past observations) they are challenging (as a group) a bird of prey in the area.

I heard the bird of prey before I saw it. On my left, I hear a series of high pitched screeches, and then a hawk (or falcon ?) zoomed overhead, about 10 feet above my head, just above the tree line – going from my left to right without one wingbeat – it was gliding in FAST and over to another tree on the westside of the open space (or southeast facing slope). And then the gang of Magpies (about 10 or so) follow and land in a tree right next to the Hawk/Falcon.

This hawk had to be a small Sharp-shinned Hawk (SSHA) or a Falcon given the smaller size and compact look…I have a few images of the Hawk flying overhead, but I was lucky even to get those at all…this bird moved very fast. The Hawk then flew over into the center of the Magpies and circled up and out (to me it seemed an act of aggression or defiance against the Magpies) and then the Hawk flew off – heading north. And a few Magpies followed….

In summary, a very active weekend for birds and observations. Two kinds of Hawks – possibly three (RTHA, COHA, and a SSHA) although I am not sure about the third one – falcon or SSHA?

Posted on January 20, 2020 13:26 by hawksthree hawksthree | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 06, 2020

January 4-5, 2020 _ Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space

January 4-5 – Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space

Sunrise at 7:51 am and Sunset at 5:14 pm
In effect, the area had gained 1 minute (net) of daylight since the Solstice.
By next weekend, the nature preserve will begin to a net gain of daylight with a more rapid increase in daylight minutes…The sun is at a meridian altitude (noon) of 27 degrees, slowly climbing from the low arc of the Solstice.

Saturday, January 4 was a cold day but the sun was out, and did observe a Cooper’s Hawk (see images) and again, I was told and have read that the Cooper’s Hawk migrates “south”, but here was Hawk in the nature preserve – and I was able to see it again on Sunday January 5…a much colder day – gray and gloomy. I also observed a Fox Squirrel and a Northern Flicker.

Sunday was the first time (on the walk) that I did not see any birds moving about in the open space, and I think it was the cold day (plus exceptionally damp) and the sun was behind clouds the whole day {in comparison when the sun came out on Monday January 6 – it felt like an early Spring day, and I observed over 20 American Robins flying about in the trees.

Posted on January 06, 2020 20:18 by hawksthree hawksthree | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 29, 2019

Dec. 28th and Dec. 29th - Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space Journal (2019-2020)

The weekend of Dec. 28 and 29th signaled a slight turn in length of day; that is after the Solstice (Winter), there is now about two minutes of more daylight (total). The sun rises at 7:51 am (at 121 degrees ESE) and at noon the sun is at 26 degrees (altitude) [still low in the southern sky] and the sun will set at 5:08 pm (at 239 degrees WSW).

Saturday (28th) – the temperature was cold at about 26 degrees in Wasatch Hollow, but the sun was shining (a few clouds) and so the east and south-east facing slopes (toward the sun) but on the west side of the “gully” (the “Hollow”) were without much snow/ice. However, the trail (mainly in the shade side) was icy and a bit slick. Basically, if you were waking in the sun, it was pleasant walk, but in the shade or closer to Emigration Creek, it seemed much colder.

Walking into the Open Space (near the natural spring – the “pond’), wildlife activity was very quiet. I saw a few Chickadees in “Hawk Alley” ( a patch of Oak trees where the trail splits to the west of the spring) and observed one (1) Northern Flicker. {see images} Later when I posted the photo of the Flicker, someone thought the bird was a Sapsucker (Genus level), but I have never observed a Sapsucker in this area, and was sure it was a Flicker, which was verified by another person in the iNaturalist community. I observed one Fox Squirrel running through the trees branches and finally up a utility pole and then crossing on one of the power lines.

Heading into the open field area, I observed a few Juncos, and a few more Flickers in the trees on the west side of the Hollow Open Space. Continuing on into the “Loop” area, I observed more Chickadees and was able to get a few decent photos of the birds in the scrub oak trees. I did not see any Hawks or Downy Woodpeckers on the walks this weekend. I saw a few “Wolf” tracks (my sarcastic reading of Dog tracks in the Open Space area (NO DOGS ALLOWED), but it appears to me, there are less people with dogs in the protected area. There is a new gate on the east side – at the bridge – and the signage is better.

I think the colder temps over this weekend was a factor in reducing the amount if wildlife activity; that is, I observed a few species, but compared to the Solstice walk (when the temps were warmer), this was a quiet time in the Open Space. But the quiet was a positive factor as the walk was calming and it was good to see the green space in the “dead” of winter – and know that in few months – this area would be “springing” to life.

Posted on December 29, 2019 14:14 by hawksthree hawksthree | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 22, 2019

Dec. 21 - A Year in the Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space (from Winter Solstice 2019 through Fall Equinox 2020

Today is Winter solstice - December 21 - officially at Dec 21, 9:19 pm
Sunrise at 7:48 am (121 degrees ESE) and Sunset at 5:03 pm (239 degrees) WSW.
The sun will be low in the southern arc of the sky at 23 degrees altitude. The length of the day
is at the shortest length of the season - at 9 hours and 15 minutes and 56 seconds.

A visit today at Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space revealed (in my opinion) one of the best days for bird watching - and count on bird species. Of course I saw the usual suspects:

Northern Flicker - up to 8 different Flickers on the walk - and they were busy going to the ground for food digging into the soft soil (it was 45 degrees at 1:30 pm) and flying back and forth across the open field in Wasatch Hollow Open Space. Often the Flickers would share the same ground with Woodhouse's Scrub Jay - both digging into the soil for food. Fox squirrels were also on the ground digging for food. I saw Dark-Eyed Junco's and two were willing to sit a bit longer for me to take photos - but they usually fly off into the next set of oak trees when they see me walking down the trail. They are very wary and difficult to capture with camera. I saw 4 Downy Woodpeckers on the walk - today they were a bit more difficult to capture with camera. They love the scrub oak trees.

I saw at least 10 different Magpies on the walk. They travel as a "pack" - and they remind me of a bird "gang" - strength in numbers - and are always squawking as they move about in the open space. They do harass Hawks in the area. And speaking of - I did get to see a Western Red-tailed Hawk flying overhead and land in a nearby tall conifer tree. This made my day - and again - the arrival of the Red-Tailed Hawk is very predictable...usually between noon and 2:00 pm almost everyday - in this open space.

I think the "warmer" weather brought out the bird species today. A great day to observe many species on one walk in and then back out.

Posted on December 22, 2019 15:19 by hawksthree hawksthree | 12 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 15, 2019

A Year in the Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space (from Winter Solstice 2019 through Fall Equinox 2020

This represents an ongoing journal of observations in the Wasatch Hollow Nature Preserve and Open Space. I begin in the Winter Solstice "season" of 2019 (officially December 21, 2019 at 9:19 pm - Mountain Time) in Salt Lake City, UT. In terms of daylight, this day is 5 hours, 51 minutes shorter than on June Solstice. I start this journal with the weekend preceding the official Solstice (December 14-15, 2019) to set the stage for the turning of the seasons in this nature preserve.

The angle of the sun is now in a low arch over the southern sky. The sun rises at 7:44 am (121 degrees ESE) and sets at 5:00 pm (239 degrees WSW) - December, 15, 2019. Yesterday (Dec. 14) the weather was mostly rain with snow mix, and then snow showers. Today (Dec. 15) - the weather will be: Mostly cloudy skies with a few snow showers this afternoon. High 28F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 30%.

Observations: After a light snowfall, I was one of the first that morning to walk into the "open space" section of the nature preserve where no dogs are allowed, but in the past I have seen dogs in the protected area (no dogs allowed) both off and on leash. And there are plenty of dog tracks in the mud and snow to indicate that dog owners continue to defy the city ordinance. All I can do is try to educate about the protected areas, and in my own attempt at humor, I pretend the dog tracks are evidence of Canis lupis and not Canis familiaris in the area - but this is Wasatch Hollow in urban SLC, not Yellowstone National Park.

I see one (1) Fox Squirrel in the Nature Preserve (near the entry gate) in one of the tall Willow Trees along Emigration Creek. I have seen at least 6 different Fox Squirrels in this area (thus on one walk in the Fall - I observed 6 different Fox Squirrels) and as an invasive species (and new to the area) - they have "taken over" the habitat in this geographic area. It is a reward to walk back into the open space, as I can hear Emigration Creek running "high" due to the volume of rain in the past 24 hours, and as I approach the natural spring ("the pond"), it is frozen over and the cattails are brown and pushed over due to the weight of snow and ice. The trail follows the fence line and then takes a sharp right hand turn - to follow the creek. I enter into the open field area which is filled with Chicory plants [Common chicory, Cichorium intybus] and a few Elm trees and Hawthorn trees. This open field area is a favorite site for Finches and Juncos. But today the open field is snow covered and the Chicory plants are bent over with the weight of snow and ice. I do not see or hear any birds in the area (yet) - just the crunch of snow underfoot. I am wearing outer gear with camo design (late fall/early winter) and knee ("ditch") boots. I carry Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 10x42 Binoculars and I have a Hawk call. In this area (usually at the top of the tall Elm trees on the perimeter) there are both Cooper's Hawks and a Red-Tailed Hawk to be seen. But in this season, I have only (lately) seen the one Red Tailed Hawk which usually shows up here between 11:00am and 2:00 pm - this is a regular pattern for this Hawk which has a "notch" in it's right wing (a few feathers are missing). It is a magnificent bird, although I like the Cooper's Hawk the best - given their tenacity to hunt in this area - and they have a nest or two in this area.

I drop down the "stairs" (a side path to the creek) to Emigration Creek and the water is running high and strong. Lots of rain (and snow mix) last few days (see images). Then I make my way to the trail and the back portion of the open space (heading north) and come across tracks in the snow - which I identify as squirrel tracks. I deduce these are tracks of the Fox Squirrel - given their abundance in this area and the tracks are noted as 4 front/5 back (toes) and so this squirrel jumped on the fence -then landed down in the snow covered trail and bounded up to the south side of the space (other hill side) - [see images].

Again, really quiet today - not much moving around. I observe one (1) Chickadee in the back loop in scrub oaks. I head back to the trailhead and will return on Sunday Dec. 15, 2019.

Sunday - Dec. 15, 2019: High of 31 degrees today. Entered Nature Preserve and Open Space around 1:30pm. Observed several Fox Squirrels, 7 Northern Flickers, 20 Juncos, several Finches, 4 Mourning Doves, 1 Downy Woodpecker, and 6 Chickadees. Even though it was a colder than yesterday, it appears that the best viewing time in the Solstice season, is between 11:00am and 2:30pm. Many birds were out and active. I have never seen so many Northern Flickers together in this area - on one walk. I observed an American Red Squirrel and a Red-Tail Hawk - very high in the sky - above the open space. One of the best days for observations of wildlife in the Solstice season - thus far.

Posted on December 15, 2019 16:29 by hawksthree hawksthree | 8 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 12, 2019

Exploring Wasatch Hollow Park area

I try to walk the nature trail in Wasatch Hollow Park area everyday and observe and note the unique ecosystem for Emigration Creek and surrounding natural space.

Posted on August 12, 2019 17:23 by hawksthree hawksthree | 0 comments | Leave a comment