Harnessing a Deeper Understanding

Although I struggled to see much wildlife and vegetation I could explicitly name, I thought it would be important to talk about the vast wildlife and vegetation communities that exist in centennial woods.

According to iNaturalist, here are many frogs that I did not come across upon my visits to my phenology site, some of these include: the Green frog and Wood frog. Garter snakes are also present. And although I didn’t see any, the Pileated, Hairy, as well as the Downy Woodpecker have all been present in Centennial Woods. There are vast amounts of bird species ranging from the small Ruby-throated Hummingbird to the Turkey Vulture. The White-Tailed Deer and Common Raccoon are also present. There is a plethora of wildlife species present in Centennial Woods, it’s honestly incredible!

Learning more about the vegetation in my phenological site has helped me to further my appreciation for it. There were many ferns and small shrubs that grew in abundance along the forest ground, but standing tall were trees like Eastern White Pine, Eastern Hemlock, Sugar Maple, and Red Maple. Eastern Hemlock definitely served as the most abundant and noticeable species around my site. Eastern Hemlock is shade tolerant- which may explain why it was so abundant in my phenological site where it was always shady, not much light would pour through the canopy. This allotted for smaller standing trees with a small DBH for some of the trees.

Taking a Step Back

Centennial Woods is a fascinating area. I find it so interesting how we can explore the land and human use of an area in order to understand its pieces, patterns, and processes better. I have always been interested in knowing the why and how of things and investigating into the land use and human history essentially allows me to read the landscape better and feel more connected to the place I’m exploring. In conjunction with using the pieces, patterns, and processes framework, I’m able to really satiate my genuine curiosity about my phenological site.

According to the Burlington Geographic, Centennial Woods was once entirely forest without any human intervention. That was until European settlers came in the mid 1700’s and over several generations came and the forests were clear cut in order to transform the land into more suitable farming and agricultural land. This drastic landscape change is responsible for much of the cultural landscape that people see in Burlington, VT. Today, Centennial Woods is actually just a piece of a larger wooded area that lies along the Burlington-South Burlington city line. It is one of the University of Vermont’s nine natural areas.

It’s also interesting to think about how Centennial Woods has turned into such a frequent place for UVM students, Burlington locals, or visitors to visit or explore. This results in increased human traffic and activity, increased maintenance of trails, therefore more noise pollution and general disturbances. And as I’ve learned in my classes, even the slightest changes in the landscape can have long-lasting effects on wildlife habitat or plant communities in Centennial Woods and other areas in Burlington.

As Burlington Geographic notes, “we know that human impact has changed Vermont’s ecological landscape enormously over the last 400 years,” and these changes may be obvious or subtle. Introduction of invasive species, extinction of species, or changing ecological habitats are all possible in the landscape. Even changes in the soil structure, its chemistry, or changes in water levels or quality can have drastic effects on the landscape.

I think it’s fascinating to analyze these cause and effect relationships and how they effect my perception of the landscape now. The human history of Centennial Woods is dynamic, intricate, and inevitably helps us understand the landscape in ways I would’ve never thought or cared about so deeply.

Kakiat Park- A Glimpse of Home

As the water from the creek comes rushing in to meet me, I am swept away and brought back to the memories of my youth. I flash back to early-morning Sunday hikes on the winding trails, the burning sensation in my nose from the cold, the chirping of birds echoing through my mind, and genuinely enjoying the feeling of the earth at my feet. And now here I stand at the edge of a creek where all I can hear is the rushing of water on a chilly November evening. Signs of anthropogenic activity are evident now, two picnic tables are within sight, a brand new bridge that goes rises right over the creek was constructed only a couple years ago. Nearly all the trees are without leaves, and the sound of speeding cars from nearby route 202 floods my ears, but I try to focus on the water and its calming sensation. It flows aggressively on one stretch and calms as it flows downstream. I see a squirrel travel up the trunk of a tree to my left, pausing for a moment, and then continuing to explore. There is something beautiful in the way that the natural world interacts with the organisms present in it. It induced a greater sense of belonging in me and left me feeling grateful for the place I lived in. (style: Leopold)

Although in two very different locations, the sites are very similar (and different) in a variety of ways. Instead of hearing the frequent sound of bird calls in Centennial Woods, the sound of rushing cars along route 202 seem to be more evident in my site at home. The presence of squirrels scavenging for food is evident in both sites, but there seems to be, generally, more presence of wildlife in Centennial woods. Anthropogenic factors could be a reason for this. Kakiat Park is for the public, a very popular area for people to walk their dogs, hike, have group or family gatherings, or to fish. It’s a versatile and well-respected area. But because of an increase in popularity over the years, more picnic tables and a brand new bridge was constructed for the park. And while this increase in popularity is a positive thing, the introduction of these anthropogenic features may affect the ecology of the place when the features were put in place. Both sites change through the seasons in very similar ways. In many ways, Kakiat Park reminds me of Centennial Woods. Growing up right next to the park, I had access to the trails and creek daily. The creek actually flows behind my house and trails are within walking distance. So even in my younger years I was able to observe the phenology of Kakiat Trail, and see how it changed throughout different seasons. Both sites have already lost the leaves on the trees. It seems that there is a larger amount of leaves and excess twigs on the ground in centennial woods compared to Kakiat Park. It also seems that Kakiat Park is a much more open area and some of the trails are generally more cleared, as compared to Centennial Woods where there is much more leaves on the ground and the feeling of wet or loose soils beneath your feet. (style: Holland).

A Chill in the Air- Photo Gallery and Event Map

For today’s observations of my site on this chill, overcast day, not much has changed. Significant changes are apparent in the fact that more leaves have fallen so there’s more ground cover. Additionally, the stream seemed to flowing at a slower velocity today compared to the last time I visited my site. More wildlife activity was present today, I saw a chipmunk and heard many different birds, but I could not identify their calls. Just from observing the site visually without digging into much detail, it’s clear that the site looks more “barren” or “empty” because of the lack of color and leaves on the trees as winter approaches.

The Slightest Changes







It was a cold, windy day with lots of cloud cover. Not much has changed in the past week at the site. In terms of weather patterns, it hasn’t rained as much as the previous week so everything is much drier, there isn’t as much moss concentrated on the fallen trees anymore. Additionally, more leaves, mostly maple. have fallen and the ground seems to be more concentrated with the fallen leaves and even covers a lot of the pine needles that had originally dominated the ground cover.

I could not see much wildlife present around my site this week. The only thing I noticed was one bird from behind me that sounded relatively far away but I could not identify the call. Centennial Woods is an area that is quite popular for people to visit so it may hinder some of the wildlife’s frequency of appearance. Additionally, the weather was much colder today compared to the day prior so the stark weather change may have had something to do with the lack of wildlife appearances.

Comfort in Nature- The Very Beginning

Hello everyone! The area I have chosen for my phenology site resonated as not only one with incredible natural diversity, but also one that feels incredibly familiar, comforting, and relaxing to visit. The area I have chosen is a little ways into Centennial Woods. It has a clear view of a small creek with a diverse range of vegetation all around- plenty to take in with the naked eye on such a short venture. I knew I wanted to choose a spot with a lot of natural diversity and that stood out to me as something either familiar or comfortable- and I was able to achieve all of those things with this site. In addition, by visiting Centennial Woods for NR 1 class, and for practicing tree identification, Centennial Woods became an area I was very fascinated with. Back home there is a park I used to frequent and it too had a small creek running through it and relatively dense areas of vegetation and plenty of diversity to take in. The phenology spot I chose gave me a similar feeling of comfort and familiarity which will make me even more eager to visit my dedicated site.

If you are interested in visiting this site, you’re in luck because it isn’t difficult to get to at all! This is also something I appreciate about my site: you don’t have to travel so far or experience anything so treacherous to appreciate the relaxing qualities and natural depth this spot holds. Going to this spot will be incredibly similar to the route many of you had to travel for the first NR 1 lab in Centennial Woods. At the start of the entrance to Centennial Woods walk straight down and take a slight left (you will pass a Black Cherry tree on your right). Continue on this path and cross the man-made bridges over the smaller creek and continue up a small incline, passing the creek on your left. Go through the pine tree stand and go straight and down a small decline (do not go right). As you descend slightly, keep along the trail and keep the creek to your left. Continue this way and look off the trail to your left until you see a large fallen tree that is fairly large in diameter- it will be parallel to the creek. Past the fallen tree there will be a slight descend with clear view of the creek at the bottom. Step over the fallen tree, take a seat, and enjoy! The picture included in this post will indicate the clear opening of the creek I am referring to.

If you do a little 360° from my phenology site, you’ll probably notice that there are a lot of dead branches, fallen trees, twigs, Eastern White Pine needles, and dead leaves. Many of these fallen trees have moss accumulated primarily on the most exposed side that would be facing you as you look down. There are many ferns and small shrubs on the understory and there is a fair amount of light exposed from the canopy. Eastern White Pine, Eastern Hemlock, Sugar Maple, and Ash are the most prominent species around my phenology sight- Eastern Hemlock being the most abundant. The leaves are mostly green and yellow as you look out to the trees past the creek straight ahead (as well as the trees behind you- mostly ash and Maple). The area is not very rocky and if you travel down toward the creek you’ll notice various dead branches, twigs, needles, and pinecones under every step. There is plenty to observe at this spot in Centennial!

Taken in front of the fallen tree- you should have this view of the creek as you look straight ahead (Dye, Dorothy).