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Kevin

Spring (Un)awakening

Posted: April 15th, 2017 by Kevin Ostrander

After multiple visits to my phenology site, there is no evidence of a vernal pool or any amphibians in the area. Although, I would imagine that Spring Peepers are very active on the sight at night with their chorus of “peeps.” Trees and plants have yet to flower, but many species (including red maple, which is the subject of my sketch) have begun to bud new leaves. The bright green of new leaves are becoming more and more evident as the “pop” through the old buds on the twigs and branches of trees. Red maple and quaking aspen (the main two deciduous species on my site) are the only two species that I have noticed on my site that have begun to bud. But, spring is still evident, many bird species are making themselves noticeable when I was there and some warm season grasses are starting to emerge on the forest edge (see the pictures below). I saw black-capped chickadees, a downy woodpecker, an eastern bluebird, and a white-breasted nuthatch.

This site incorporates the forest edge as the main “ecological theme” and landscape feature, so the middle of the site is ten feet away from the forest edge in most directions. The “edge effect” is greatly affecting the site, I believe it is partly why I saw so many bird species while at my site, especially the black-capped chickadees since they are an edge-loving species. I don’t believe my site provides habitat for any forest interior species, but as I come and go from my site I walk through the forest that is habitat for the downy woodpecker and white-breasted nuthatch that I saw.

Spring Break Phenology

Posted: March 20th, 2017 by Kevin Ostrander

        My spring phenology site is not new, it is the same one as my Thanksgiving phenology site. It is an old farm, that’s what it has always been since its beginning over a hundred years ago at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers in upstate New York. The only thing that it currently produces, due to the farmer’s old age, is hay. The lower fields are part of the river flood plain, all of the wood lots on the farm are classic northern hardwood forests.
        There seemed to be an average amount of bird activity for the winter months. Two male cardinals were busy chasing one another in and around trees and the meadow edge, one probably protecting his territory as spring and the mating season approaches. A pileated wood pecker was busy inspecting multiple trees, including a dead black cherry and a paper birch (both were part of hedgerows). In addition to those two species, a flock of red-winged blackbirds were flying about, still awaiting for the spring thaw to come after a blizzard came through a couple days earlier, dropping twenty (plus) inches of new powder. Unfortunately due to all of their skittish or excited nature or there far distance, I was unable to photograph any of these three species. Finally, in the effort to not dis-include the resident “big bird” of the area, there were three to four sets of tracks of wild-turkeys crisscrossing the site, the tracks seem to indicate that there was at least one male turkey among them due to the longer middle toe of the track (see the picture below). In addition to all of the bird activity, there was evidence of a lot of white-tailed deer activity at the site as well, a well established deer trail cut right through the opening of a field and running parallel to a small creek and hedgerow, it is pictured below as well.
        The trees and shrubs that exist at the site have yet to start budding for the upcoming spring. But there was a lot of die back from winter’s wrath. There was a considerable amount of broken off branches and twigs. Last season’s fruits were partially, since some was eaten by birds and small mammals or have fell off, still hanging on vines and at the end of branches.
 

Wetland, Woodland, and Wildland

Posted: March 10th, 2017 by Kevin Ostrander

Eastern white pine, eastern hemlock, paper and yellow birch dominate the forest of my phenology site. There is some red spruce and American beech, but at a considerably lesser rate than the other present species. My place is a classic example of a Northern Hardwood Forest. The species composition is fairly well split between coniferous and deciduous tree species, it lacks the boreal herb dominance that characterizes the Red Spruce-Northern Hardwood Forest. It’s on a gradual slope that is usually moist, although it was considerably dry towards the beginning of the first semester, when the summer season was waning, and before the fall rains had come. It is also, in part, a wetland dominated by cattails, so I would classify it as a Cattail Wetland, also. It is very flat, always saturated (especially now with a thaw just passing through), has a stream flowing through it, and almost a monoculture of cattails and similar reed plants growing in it.

As the seasons have begun to change, my place has started its transformation. The snow has dissipated substantially, the creek is flowing nicely, and the substrate is considerably more saturated now thanks to the thaw. There was some song bird song bird activity at the site when I was visiting it this past week, but not enough to suggest that the spring migration of song birds was taking place, the absence of which is what I was expecting to find.

Using BioFinder, a couple of interesting discoveries were made about this spot. First being that it is considered an S2 community under the State of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resource’s criteria, it is considered an interior forest block; an interior forest block is an undisturbed patch of forest that isn’t bisected by roads, buildings, large paths, etc., it is unfragmented wildlife habitat. Another interesting fact about this spot is that it’s home to rare species and rare natural communities (Biofinder doesn’t elaborate as to what is the rare species or community present, unfortunately). The last interesting piece to this is that the rare species and community don’t cross a wetland that bisects the forest, they are restricted to only one side of the stream and wetland. Biofinder has proved to be a useful tool in investigating this spot further, enriching my understanding of the spot.

Winter Twigs

Posted: February 6th, 2017 by Kevin Ostrander

There aren’t that many deciduous trees in this phenology site, it’s dominated by eastern hemlock and eastern white pine. The only two deciduous trees are sugar maple and paper birch. Unfortunately, the only paper birch tree that is on the site is so large that the branches are out of reach. But, the sugar maple is within reach, and those twigs are pictured below.

Winter’s Influence on the Landscape

Posted: February 6th, 2017 by Kevin Ostrander

The snow blankets the landscape. The brook that lies across the frozen meadow is now silent, covered in a thin sheet of ice. The squirrels and chipmunks have stopped their incessant search for nuts and other edibles, having opted for the warmth of their nests and families. Most of the song birds have now left. It is eerily quiet. A single rabbit’s track cuts across the small meadow that lies in front of me, a sign that life here is on a hiatus, waiting out the blustery cold and snow. Being able to see through the forest, enhanced by the white snow blanketing the forest floor, is a new and exciting change that January has brought with it to northern Vermont.

 

Fall 2016 Conclusion

Posted: December 9th, 2016 by Kevin Ostrander

These past few months have been eye opening. Between seeing how wildlife, woody plants, aquatic features, as well as other natural features and processes, its been an excellent opportunity. For instance, during multiple times I have visited this site, there was a small grey owl perched across the meadow, hunting and watching over it as well as Centennial Brook. Also, during the last time I visited the sight for the semester, the snow revealed how some local wildlife has been using the meadow and adjacent forests, there was a set a of white-tailed deer tracks going through the field on the game trail. This is not to forget to mention how since most of the leaves have changed that the overwhelming majority of birds and insects have ceased to be around. It was eye opening and amazing to learn about the history behind this spot and Centennial Woods as a whole, to see how the seasons have changed and how the wildlife has responded. With that, here are the pictures from my last trip to my spot this semester. If you look closely, you’ll be able to tell that the excitement of learning about and experiencing these changes first hand spreads throughout many people, not just those who are in NR1.

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Human History

Posted: December 9th, 2016 by Kevin Ostrander

The Centennial Woods Natural Area was not always in the University of Vermont’s possession. It used to be owned by an alumni of the university, Fred Fiske, back near the turn of the twentieth century. Fisk farmed the land, until it was purchased by the university around the middle to late twentieth century, the university enacted and maintains a stance on letting the land carry out its natural succession. Prior to the land being in Fiske’s possession, most of Centennial Woods, was owned by the combination of C. Baxter, Hickok, and the Ainsworth’s.

Thanksgiving Phenology

Posted: November 27th, 2016 by Kevin Ostrander

The location I chose was an old, non-working, farm from a town that neighbors my hometown. I’ve grown up romping through these woods and fields, hunting and exploring them. The field I specifically chose is still cut for hay multiple times a summer and wildlife frequent it, shown by the rubbed tree as a result of the white-tailed deer’s annual rut. Ecologically this place is similar to my place in Burlington but it isn’t exactly the same, both are located in the northeastern part of the United States so some of the tree species are the same in each spot (red oak, sugar maple, and paper birch); also, both spots have a field or meadow incorporated into them. But, they also differ greatly, for instance, my Thanksgiving spot isn’t heavily forested and the parts that are dominated by buckthorn, black cherry, red oak, paper birch, sugar maple, and other deciduous trees, not the eastern white pines of my Burlington spot. It also doesn’t have a brook running throughout it with a substantial wetland, which characterizes my Burlington spot. As for the phenology of both spots they’re pretty at pretty similar spots in the progression of the seasons as winter approaches, my Thanksgiving spot is about a week or so being my Burlington one because of how much further south it is than Burlington, there are still a substantial variety of hawks, migratory waterfowl, and songbirds present.

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Event Map

Posted: November 7th, 2016 by Kevin Ostrander

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Hello world!

Posted: October 3rd, 2016 by Kevin Ostrander

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