There are multiple edges in my phenology spot. It is basically a relatively small square with two sides bordered by the lake, one side next to the bike path, and the final side bordering a field. This produces three fairly unique edge habitats for various organisms. Along the lake, the tall trees act as bird habitat while providing them with a close proximity to hunting grounds in the lake. Along the other two sides, because of the high human activity, I do not think they act as good habitat for many animals. But, the increased sunlight provides habitat for unique plant species. It appears that the area is just too small to truly support any forest interior species. At the very most it could act as a resisting ground for traveling interior species.
A representative sketch of the cross-section of the sheet of ice that covered the ground. Clearly, there are some blades of grass sticking out of this layer but much of the grass and the delicate wildflowers have been buried beneath.
During my visit to my phenology place, I feel that I did not find an accurate phenological account of April because of the coating of sleet on the ground. Any sort of amphibian sign was covered and I fear that the amphibians may have been negatively affected by this icey precipitate. Also, because most of the leaf litter was covered by a sheet of ice, the newly blooming wildflowers were covered and most likely damaged. But, earlier in the week, throughout Burlington flowers in beds as well as the occasional wildflower were beginning to poke out of the ground.
Most of the forest had a fairly healthy mixture of various deciduous trees with scattered evergreen stands. There was a large amount of American Beech trees but there were also many Maples and Oaks scattered throughout the wooded areas. One notable tree in this park is the American Sycamore, they are relatively prevalent in my area and they are stunningly beautiful but Vermont tends to lack them because they are just north of their habitable range. The two largest evergreen stands that I found were a Cedar and a White Pine stand. The Cedar stand was in a low-lying wet area while the pines sat atop an otherwise grassy hill.
The edge habitat provided by the mixing of agricultural lands and forests provides a fantastic habitat for many bird species. The conservation center also provides many different types of birdhouses in many different places to cater to these feathered friends. Within the first few steps in the park, I saw many robbins, a few red-winged blackbirds, many blue jays, and a pileated woodpecker flew maybe 10 feet in front of my face. I watched the woodpecker investigate multiple trees before I lost it in the brush. As I went deeper into the woods, there were fewer birds other than a few large crows circling overhead. But, I did find a stunning blue jay feather again on the edge of a different patch of forest. There were deer tracks crisscrossing throughout the property and marks on the signs from where they have been chewing. The only other mammal that I saw was a squirrel and the many dog tracks made discerning any other tracks in the mud difficult. I found a groundhog hole as well with tracks on either side that were difficult to identify. But, I did find a scene of two deer that had been killed and were in the process of being eaten(WARNING: fairly gruesome image). It appeared to be a fox or coyote den but based on my research, neither of these animals are known to take full adult whitetails back to their dens. Regardless it was very interesting to see! There were also smaller tufts of fur throughout the park.
Long ago, this area was completely forested but it was clear-cut for agricultural uses, namely corn and other staple crops. But, this area was bought by an early conservation group that was concerned by the dumping polluting the Brandywine Creek. This group then merged with a group protecting the neighboring Red Clay Creek Watershed and the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance was formed. Today this area is frequented by dog walkers, horse riders (with large steeple chases held relatively often), cross-country skiers, an environmental education center, and a nature-based summer camp (with which I am employed as a counselor in the summers). The property has a very long history with Quaker farmers with a barn and silo dating back to the early 1800s, a spring house from the Revolutionary War period, and a Penn Oak that was growing at the time William Penn settled Pennsylvania in 1681. Sadly, this behemoth fell over in 2016 at more than 25 feet around and about 150 feet tall.
Here is a map of the Myrick Conservation Center. There is a mixture of forested areas and agricultural lands that are rented out throughout the property. On top of this, there is a stream that runs through the middle creating wetlands and there is a small pond toward the south end of the property. Unfortunately, I was unable to embed the map so here is a screenshot of the area.
Through the use of Biofinder, I discovered that my phenological place has really no ecological significance in the eyes of the layers available on the program. For whatever reason, the areas all around this place are classified as areas containing rare and uncommon species but not my patch of woods. This is exceptionally odd because the surrounding area is mainly open grass areas while my place is in one of the only forested patches in the immediate area. I found the lack of any importance or significance to be quite interesting and perhaps telling of something that I do not know.
As the snow is beginning to melt the soil is becoming very wet. I am sure as the temperatures begin to rise the vegetation will begin to come back from dormancy. But, for now, there have not been many significant changes in the plant life since the dead of winter. But, it is clear that the area is primed and ready for spring to come and for the vegetation to once again take hold of the place!
My phenology space is quite clearly a wetland. Although it is not currently in the state of a bog, swamp or marsh, the vegetation matches up well and there is a lot of potential for this to occur. Because the place is directly on Lake Champlain and sits on a constructed land mass that extends into the water, the soil is very saturated with water. Because of this, there are many ferns and trees that prefer wet and disturbed soils like ashes and paper birches. But, the soil is still dry enough for a homeless camp to be set up on it. Also, the majority of the place is at a lower elevation by about 10 feet surrounded by a raised path. This lower section is primed to become a full-blown wetland.