Final Visit

Well, its here. The end of my first year of college. And with it brings the end of this blog. This project, through forcing me to visit Centennial Woods, has made me appreciate the natural area much more. I definitely would have not visited my site in the middle of the winter if it was not an assigned task. However, I am glad this was the case. The Woods are beautiful in the winter, a spectacle not everyone witnesses.

The only phenological difference I noticed at my site, apart from it getting warmer, was that there were more pinecones on the ground. On my walk there I also noticed a few garden snakes slithering around.

Nature and culture intertwine in Centennial Woods often, mostly in the form of human interaction. Recreational activities provide a venue for connection to the natural environment. Many runners and dog walkers find themselves immersed in the beauty on display. Furthermore, the Woods provide a place for students to discover and play in a safe place.

Though I visited my site many times this semester, I don’t feel like part of it.  Centennial Woods, and my site included, belongs to the wildlife, the trees, and any form of life that calls it home. Almost every visit I felt like just that, a visitor. I am an intruder to their normal, everyday environment. On a few of my longer visits I could feel the habituates warming up to my presence.  As I sat motionless on a log, squirrels ran close to me, unbothered. I felt unobtrusive and part of the natural flow of life. Reaching this state does not occur often and is something to be treasured.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my documentation of phenological changes this semester. Ciao!

April Visit

On my most recent visit to my phenology site, it was a cool and cloudy day, and started to hail halfway through the visit. The wind was also decently strong. I encountered no signs of amphibians or flowers budding. My site is surrounded by pine trees, and these do not flower in the typical sense. They produce pine cones, which were not visible. Also, no spring wildflowers had begun to emerge from the leaf covered ground.

Here is a sketch of my place:

In terms of landscape ecology, my site is near the center of Centennial Woods, with the closet edge being the entrance. I noticed when walking to my site that it gradually got quieter as I walked further into the natural area. There seemed to be a pretty distinct difference in noise level once I got about 20 feet in, where there was significant forest covering. It was also a bit darker, which would have an impact on the species that reside there. Another factor I noticed was that there was almost no wind once I entered, which made it feel warmer than outside the forest.
I think that my site provides habitat for forest interior species due to its location within Centennial Woods, and its position adjacent to Centennial Brook. These conditions are ideal for some species, but not for others.

Spring Break

Over spring break, I visited my hometown. Mystic, Connecticut is a small little tourist town. During the 1800s, it was one of the most active shipbuilding ports along the East Coast. Later, it transferred its focus to marine engineering, textile mills, and small craft building which carried it forward into the 20th century.  Now, most of the towns revenue comes from tourism.

I went to a small natural area by my house for this assignment, called Beebe Pond Park. This area used to have a textile mill on the land, and stone walls as property borders. The trails are now preserved by a committee and up-kept through volunteers. I heard many birds on my visit, but saw only a few. Outstanding was that of a hawk, which was swooping overhead only briefly. The woody plants, such as the Northern Red Cedar pictured below, were shedding snow and getting ready for the approaching sunny season. Many trees had fallen due to the recent snowstorms.

My dog enjoyed the trip as well!

March is here, Spring is not…

On my most recent visit to Centennial Woods, I had the opportunity to observe the environment in a state of especial allure. The trees were hit with just the right amount of wind to allow a few flakes of snow to drift gracefully to the ground.

 

That aside, I did identify my site as a Oak-Pine-Northern Hardwood Forest. The high concentration of White Pines was evidence of this. Within this category, the natural community of my site is White Pine-Red Oak-Black Oak forest. The typical characteristics of this type of natural community are coarse-textured soils, primarily White Pine along with Red and Black Oak co-domination, while Beech and Hemlock are also common. Heath shrubs are usually in the understory. The substrate is, “Soils that are mostly derived from lake or marine sediments, either clay or sand. Bedrock exposures may be found scattered within these areas.” (Wetlands, Wild lands, Woodlands pg. 154) Many of these characteristics correlated to features I observed at my site. There are mostly White Pines with a few Red Oaks interspersed, and I noticed some Beech and Hemlocks on my traveling to and from the site. The soil is course due to fallen pine needles and cones, as well as decomposing trees. The substrate matches as well, as there is a stream close by and therefore bedrock sediments and sandy clay soils.

In terms of phenological changes, the site looked relatively the same as last time I visited. One major difference was the stream had melted further, allowing water to flow and making the surrounding soil moist. I also noticed that pine needles were peppering the white ground.

Through using Bio Finder, I noticed that my site was right on the edge of the community/species highest priority. Because the center of this area was near the center of the Centennial, I inferred that the majority of the species live inside the confines of the two streams, using them for water access, and habituating the areas that were the farthest from infrastructure such as roads. There was also a high priority of landscape ecology around my site. I think this is because of the fact that Burlington is mostly an urban area, and this one of the few forested locations.

 

New Semester, New Site

Hello all and welcome back. Since the new semester has started, I decided to change my phenological site. However, it has not moved very far. It is still located in Centennial Woods, and can be found by taking the main path all the way in, without turning. There are two clearing that you come to, but if you continue straight, it is off to the side of this main path. Here are some pictures to identify the site:

And here is a map of the site:

During my visit, apart from the human-made footprint, the only tracks I noticed were those of a dog.

It was interesting to discover that there were no deciduous trees that were encompassed in my site. The majority of the trees were Eastern White Pines, towering over everything. There were also a few Eastern Hemlock saplings growing ever so determinedly.

Human History

Centennial Woods, and my spot along with it, was purchased by the University of Vermont from various private owners from 1891 to 1968. Prior to the purchase, there is little information documented as to the private uses of the land. Through observing stone walls and pieces of barbed wire in my time spent there, and my knowledge of the land use history of the majority of Vermont, I assume it used to host either sheep or dairy farms. The dominance of Eastern White Pine today also indicates reforestation, as they are a pioneer species. Centennial Woods now makes up about 70 acres and is utilized by UVM courses as a natural laboratory. Apart from this, it gets frequent use from students and local residents for recreation, as many people run and take walks through the natural area.

Phenology in Connecticut

The phenology place I picked in my hometown is called Lantern Hill, and it is a short hike to the summit.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/41%C2%B027’35.6%22N+71%C2%B056’40.9%22W/@41.4586414,-71.9469853,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d41.4599!4d-71.9447

Leopold:

As I ascended the slight gradient, the absence of sound surprised me. This seemed out of place. Had all the animals chosen to hide as I strutted through their unofficially claimed playground? The only thing distinct was the rustling of fallen leaves under my boots, and even this was muffled by my thick layering over my ears. As I glanced up to view the ground which I will eventually cross, a grey mass appeared. With my continuing progress, the ambiguous shape transformed into a trunk with significant girth. Clamoring over this, the peeling bark surprised me. The not-often-respected power of the natural world was on display here, accompanied by her children burrowing and recycling her nutrients. Once I had reached the top, my experience completely changed. A deep roaring greeted me at the peak, as I struggled to maintain my upright position. The various pine trees, among these the Northern Red Cedar,  and bare limbs of the deciduous trees vigorously shook.  A couple of wide-winged birds soared through the air, effortlessly maneuvering the harsh winds, circling and finally settling on a rock jutting out into the horizon. They remained perched here, guarding their sacred watchtower.  My gaze shifted to the body of water far below. The surface wrinkled with each gust, scattering the geese which had decided to momentarily rest, to little satisfaction. 

Holland:

The weather in Mystic mimics that of Burlington, save Burlington displays temperatures that are slightly lower. This may not seem like a big deal at all, and most days it is not. However, if it were to precipitate, snow would appear in Vermont while rain would descend in Southern CT. The fauna visible here is greater than typical in Centennial Woods, and for later on in the year. This also is a result of warmer climate. Several hawks are still present. These must be some of the last sticking around before the harsh winter. Back in Burlington, the birds of prey have migrated to more livable environments already. The rodents which they usually pick off are already in hiding. The coniferous trees stand tall and full of lush green color in Centennial. These are unavoidable as they grow ubiquitously. This is not the case on Lantern Hill. The Cedars grow few and far between. Trees stricken of leaves are more common here.  While Centennial is more of a swampy, moist area, the altitude of Lantern Hill prevents those shrubs who like abundant water from growing. There is less soil present too, again limiting the life that can survive at this altitude.

November in Centennial

Here is an event map which I created of my visit:

During this visit to my spot in Centennial Woods, I only noticed a few phenological changes that had occurred. The leaves of the oak sampling have turned brown. The pine needles seem less plentiful in the center of the clearing, as if they were pushed to the sides from repeated footsteps. Pine cones were trampled/destroyed, something I thought was interesting. There were also fallen trees I observed while walking to and from my spot.

Here is a poem I wrote while sitting in my place:

The Stunned Forest

“I have come to observe the stunned forest,

Where I am not the only one who feels like a tourist.

The damp floor beneath my feet,

The relative absence of any heat,

The scattered sounds of a few brave birds,

Reminds me that life has left in herds.

The modification of the surrounding environment,

Signifies Mother Nature’s distance from retirement.

The vigor of the weather is promptly displayed,

By the fallen trees which form a cascade.

The sheer amount of broken limbs,

Is sure to be the cause of the wildlife’s whim,

To run away instead of remain,

For danger lurks when winds roar through this domain.

However, the damage is not done forever,

The birds will chirp when they finish their endeavor.

The return of animals will mark a new beginning,

As they adapt and continue on living.

New plants will take the place of old,

The continuation of the story seldom told.

The process of disturbance and regrowth,

and the impacts on plants and animals, both.

I must leave and let the forest resume it’s tasks,

But before long I hope to be back.”

 

October Updates

There were few phenological changes to vegetation, other than the changing color of leaves. There were more pine needles covering the ground this time, and more pine cones too. The meadow changed to a dead-looking light yellowish.

I noticed birds chirping in the trees directly overhead. I heard the rustling of leaves nearby and assumed that either chipmunks or squirrels were responsible. There were markings left along the ground in the pine needles which I observed. These could indicate an animal burrowing or footprints possibly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a birds eye view map of my place. I used dots to represent the trees, with a different color representing a different kind of tree. The key is attached:

 

Introduction to My Place

My spot for this project is located in Centennial Woods. To get there, take the main path until you reach a clearing with a large oak tree displaying a black and white sign with an arrow on it. Take the path to your left. Follow this for a few minutes. You will pass decaying, downed trees on your left and a meadow on your right. Take the second right turn. This path leads to a circular clearing surrounded by trees, but still overlooking a meadow. This most of the reason I chose this spot. It is very secluded and easy to lose yourself in the nature.

There were many species I recognized in my spot. There were a bunch of Eastern Hemlock and Eastern White Pine trees surrounding the clearing. Because of this, the clearing is covered in soft pine needles. There were a few Yellow Birch trees in my spot, as well as Norway Maples. There were barberry shrubs around the edges of the clearing. I also noticed a sapling White Oak growing towards the side of the clearing.

 

https://www.google.com/maps/place/44%C2%B028’41.5%22N+73%C2%B011’11.8%22W/@44.4783275,-73.188274,278m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d44.4782!4d-73.1866