Comparative Phenology – Bush Hill Nature Reserve, North Kingstown, Rhode Island

I immersed myself in Bush Hill Nature Reserve a few minutes from my house. Compared to my phenological site in Burlington, which is located in a Northern Hardwood Forest, the site I chose is a riparian forest that borders marshland.

“The trail at Bush Hill Nature Reserve is a very easy stroll accessible from Wickford Village. The reserve is a good place for bird watching and there are great views of the salt marsh. The land was once part of the extensive Spink family farm. It was donated to the Land Conservancy of North Kingstown by the de Guzman family in memory of Adelaide Dawson Lynch (1917-1992) who loved Wickford, this land, and its wildlife. There is an esker (geological feature) that you hike along, looking into Bush Hill Pond. This pond was used as a source of ice and skating in historic times” (Explore Rhode Island 2019).

A Historic Wickford Sign at the Bush Hill Nature Reserve

My observations of bird species include Blue Jay and Starlings. As I was entering the site they flocked in the tree cover above. Aside from humans and dogs, there were no other apparent tracks on the substrate.

Dog tracks on muddy soil

As far as woody plant species and tree species go, I was able to identify Red Oak (Quercus rubra), White Oak (Quercus alba), Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus), Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis), and the invasive Common catbrier & Barberry (Berberis).

An Oak with Catbrier in the background

A Northern White Cedar
A Barberry wood plant

The banks of the salt marsh had sandy soils with clusters of muscles on the shores.


Clusters of muscles

Geese were spotted resting on the marshland.


Common Reed was also on the marshland.

Common Reed
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NR 2 Salmon Hole Phenology Blog Visit #2

Within my Phenology location, Salmon Hole on the Winooski River, natural communities such as Northern Hardwood Forests, Mesic-Red Oak Northern Hardwood Forests, and Limestone Bluff Cedar Pine Forests.

The Northern Hardwood Forest was a medium sized patch. According to “Wetland, Woodland, Wildland,” this natural community is common and widespread in the state, with high quality examples in abundance. Paper and Yellow Birch, American Beech, and Sugar Maple trees are indicators of the presence of a dominant type of Northern Hardwood Forest.

The Mesic Red Oak – Northern Hardwood Forest was a large sized patch. Wetland, Woodland, Wildland classifies this community as widespread in the state, but the number of high quality examples is low or the total acreage occupied by the community type is relatively small. Sugar Maple, Red Oak, and American Beech trees are all indicators of the presence of a Mesic Red Oak – Northern Hardwood Forest.

Observable Limestone Bluff Cedar Pine Forest were small in patch size. Wetland, Woodland, Wildland classifies this natural community as rare in the state, occurring at a small number of sites or occupying a small total area in Vermont. Shallow soils and bedrock just below the surface pertain to this community and is typically characteristic of twisted Northern White Cedar stands. It is described by Wetland, Woodland, Wildland as a “dark, coniferous forest which occupies the narrow bands on the tops of cliffs/bluffs.” This natural community is slow growing and stable.

Cedar Bluffs appear on the edge of the cliff bordering the Winooski River

Since my first visit to Salmon Hole, many phenological changes have occurred. At the moment, the trees are budding as spring lingers in the distance. Snow still coats the surface of the forests and the Winooski River is largely frozen over. Mallard Ducks meander in the pockets of the river that haven’t frozen over.

Tracks appear everywhere. I’ve tracked animals ranging from gray squirrels to beavers.

Beaver tracks appear under a bridge. The tracks are all different in size and the tail follows the path.

With all of the recent precipitation we’ve had, the snowpack on the ground has thawed, leading to periodic erosion of the substrate near the Winooski River. The amount of melting has led to nutrients from the soil running off into the river as the erosion of the substrate continues.

Next week will feature a comparative blog post between Salmon Hole and a phenology spot TBD in Rhode Island.

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WE ARE BACK FOR ROUND 2 – Salmon Hole Visit #1 Phenology Blog

I am very glad to be back in Burlington after the long winter break between semesters. It was nice to come back to a snow-covered Burlington. Coming from Rhode Island, where snow totals were far lower than up north, I was happy to return to UVM. With the return to Burlington means the return to classes and NR 2!

I chose to keep Salmon Hole on the Winooski River as my phenology spot because of the connection I developed for it during my visits throughout the first semester. Even when all of the deciduous trees have lost their foliage the natural area still has an unspeakable beauty. 

As soon as I descended into the wooded area, I saw animal everywhere we looked. Tracks from this visit indicate the presence of Mice, Cottontail Rabbit, and Deer (Referenced in Tracking Guide).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was also a flock of ducks we found loitering on the iced-over Winooski.

I surveyed the area of Salmon Hole that I have continually been returning to and found the twigs of Red Oak (Quercus rubra), American Beech (Fagus grandifolia), White Oak (Quercus alba), and Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica). 

Here is a sketch of a twig with its labeled parts:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, the snowpack is dense and very little soil is visible. Most deciduous trees are budding. A few of the trees have fallen since my last visit.

I’m ecstatic to be back and cannot wait to see this natural area come to life as spring approaches.

Until next visit,

Gzero

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This is Goodbye! :(

Salmon Hole, it’s been a wild ride. Observing the phenological changes within the forest and among the whole natural area has brought me a sense of renewal and tranquility. From the start of my visits to the last, I was always motivated to hike down to Salmon Hole and walk its paths. The towering trees, bush vegetation, and diverse wildlife never cease to intrigue me.

From my numerous trips to Salmon Hole, I have made several observations about its human history. Before the Salmon Hole on the Winooski became a popular fishing spot for Vermonters, I believe it was deemed a local dump site. I’ve spotted many collections of garbage throughout the natural area. Car parts and mattresses litter sections of the forested portion. Tires can be found on the forest floor every 100 feet. While I was walking along the trail, I noticed several pipes that expelled water from the nearby water treatment plant into the Winooski river. From this human activity, the brooks dumping into the river have turned brownish-orange from the iron deposits. These anthropogenically polluted waters may threaten the wildlife that use the Winooski river as habitat.

I took a gallery of pictures to commemorate my time spent there. I even found some more evidence of wildlife and fresh tracks!

I also documented fresh tracks of beaver activity, fresh tracks of what I believe is either a North American Mink or North American Fisher Cat, and a red-bellied woodpecker.

My final visit to Salmon Hole was definitely the most memorable. Every time I come back to this sight the nostalgia from this project will almost certainly make me a bit teary.

I’ll be back soon, Salmon Hole, it has been real.

Cheers,

Gzero

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286 Miles South

Although it kills me to leave Burlington, it was nice to come home for Thanksgiving break. I saw my family and friends from my hometown of Sharon, MA. Since I recently moved to North Kingstown, RI, I’ve explored many of the natural areas surrounding my new home. One location sits right in my backyard. Academy Cove in North Kingstown, RI offers a beautiful view of a body of water filled with wildlife.

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The magic of this cove exists in its stillness. I observed Mallard Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) and Atlantic Puffins during my visit to the site, which happens to be in my backyard!

These are the birds that I observed:

Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos

Atlantic puffin, Fratercula arctica

I took some photos of the waterfowl in action:

I snapped some more photos of the wetland:

The soil has a sandy texture, which supports the riparian flora that grow along the shores of the cove.

I also decided to investigate the trees near the cove. The closest tress to the cove I could identify were White Oak (Quercus Alba). Almost every tree has lost their leaves with the start of winter.

A description of my new place in the style of Aldo Leopold:

Academy Cove preserves the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community that is my backyard. Because of this fact, Academy Cove is right. Academy Cove would be wrong if it did otherwise. As I walked down the steps of my newly-built backyard deck, I felt a sense of harmony between myself and the land in front of me. Living harmoniously with Academy Cove means cherishing every part of it: its stillness, its waterfowl, and its beauty. This is conservation. I do not think of this place as a commodity, for that would entail abuse of the land. Instead, I imagine this place as a piece of a community I belong to, with many processes that occur across the cove. I love and respect this place. When I stare at the ripple of the water and listen to each wave brush the shore line, I remember that this is my backyard. I am blessed. Proximity to this cove makes me a happier person.  Every time I step outside I am hit with the cool of air of late November and reminded of what day it is. It is a day to appreciate and revel at the feeling of the outdoors. Merely looking at Academy Cove leads to this feeling, which seals its place in my list of special locations.

A comparison of Academy Cove in North Kingstown, RI to Salmon Hole in Burlington, VT, written in the style of Mabel Osgood Wright:

Approach the undulating waves of Academy Cove and notice the sandy banks that line the body of water. Back in Burlington, Salmon Hole embodies the same aquatic spirit, with the Winooski River harboring different wildlife than Academy Cove. While my backyard offers gorgeous views of Mallard Duck and Atlantic Puffin, Salmon Hole has less waterfowl and more fish. Nevertheless, both locations are quite wild. The vegetation of both places also differs in composition and abundance. Burlington is filled with seemingly endless forest cover, deciduous forests galore. North Kingstown, RI has less forest cover. Academy Cove boasts far fewer trees then the forested area surrounding the Winooski river. While these landscapes differ in many ways, they both provide me with tranquility and a space to think. I feel renewal when I place myself in these natural settings and it benefits emotionally and spiritually. Salmon Hole offers a connection to a terrestrial ecosystem that borders an aquatic ecosystem teeming with fish. Academy Cove gives me access to an aquatic ecosystem filled with wildlife of different kinds. No matter where I observe phenological changes, Burlington or North Kingstown, I enjoy immersing myself in nature and studying the apparent seasonal changes.

I can’t wait to make my final visit to Salmon Hole back in Burlington next week!

Cheers,

Gzero

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Phenology Visit #3 – Salmon Hole

Back to Salmon Hole!

Based on the examples provided in Hannah Hinchman’s article The World as Events, I created an event map showing a set of experiences at Salmon Hole. I hope this event map will allow you to experience the sights and sounds of Salmon Hole as I experience them!

Since my last visit, more leaves have fallen from the trees and littered the trail even more.

The waters of the Winooski River rage on.

I’ve seen bees pollinating the few flowers that still remain.

In an attempt to capture the magnificence of Salmon Hole, I’ve written a poem.

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A gallery of trees greets me with vibrancy, followed by a red carpet of fall foliage.

Overcrowding on the forest floor is imminent, all trees eventually succumb to the forces of autumn.

Salmon Hole beckons! Beavers, squirrels, and hawks oh my!

Hardwood forest dominates here, no coniferous trees are in sight.

An understory littered with ferns and buckthorn.

Loam is found of the forest floor, and sand appears on the banks of the flowing Winooski.

The waterway looking murky, inundated with sediment.

Patches of vegetation interrupt the baron riparian rockface, bees taking advantage of their presence – pollination.

Renewal is in the air.

I have overstayed my welcome, such beauty is fragile to the touch.

Filled with gratitude, I see the red carpet once again.

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The air is getting colder, but things are just heating up at Salmon Hole. Well, in a phenological sense.

Until next time,

GZERO

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Bird’s Eye View of Salmon Hole (Visit #2)

Much time has passed and the foliage certainly has changed. Many of the deciduous trees are dropping their leaves as they turn a yellow/orange color.

This bird’s eye view of Salmon Hole on the Winooski River depicts the prominent features of the natural area:

There is evidence of beavers using the habitat. Trees on the sandy shoreline had been gnawed on, indicating the presence of beaver individuals.

I’ll be back next week with more!!

Catch you all later,

Gzero

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Phenology Location Visit 1 – Salmon Hole!!

My phenology project location is The Salmon Hole on the Winooski River. I chose this location mostly because of my affinity for Salmon. I wanted to pick a forested area near a river because of the diverse wildlife species that occupy the habitat. In addition, before visiting The Salmon Hole I had heard from numerous classmates about the site’s beauty. Although it is not that close in proximity to main campus, it is worth the trek. The area’s natural beauty is always worth the journey.

 Coordinates: 44.4869909, -73.18812650000001

From main campus, finding the route to The Salmon Hole takes no more than 10 minutes on a bike and around 20 minutes to walk. Sitting 2 miles from main campus, traveling down colchester ave and then riverside ave should lead to the location.

At the trailhead the hardwoods present included Boxelders, American Ash, and Paper Birch. The foliage was for the most part still green, with slight hints of yellow appearing as Autumn approaches. The soil seemed to be silty loam with a thick O horizon. My phenology location itself contained several American Beech, Basswood, White Oak, Sugar Maple, and a few ailing Norway Maple and Paper Birch. The American Beech and Basswood were the most common trees.

Multiple species of woody plants littered the ground floor.

The following woody plants appeared in the understory of my site:

  • Common Buckthorn
  • Glossy Buckthorn
  • Long Beech Fern
  • Intermediate Woodfern

My location extends onto the banks of the Winooski river. This edge of my site has more sandy soil, as it sits near a river. One interesting observation I made was related to beaver activity. Although I did not have a beaver sighting, an uncertain amount of these rodents left clear evidence of their presence. A tree had been gnawed on, leaving a gaping chunk taken out of the base of the tree.

I can’t wait to see how the foliage will look next week!

Until next week,

G Fawcett

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