My site is a classic example of nature and culture intertwining. The land along this part of the Winooski River is used for hiking, and trails are routinely maintained. It is also an extremely popular fishing location. Almost every time I came here, I saw other people enjoying the Salmon Hole and RiverWalk, too.
There are benefits and drawbacks to this land use. People develop a greater sense of appreciation for nature by spending time outdoors. It is also physically and spiritually healing to be in nature. However, this brings litter, overfishing, and other problems to the Salmon Hole.
I do not think I would consider myself a part of my place because I am not extremely dedicated to it. I think it’s a beautiful place to hike, but I did not develop any kind of connection beyond that.
Today was another beautiful spring day, a couple weeks after my last visit. A big rain event over the course of a few days had just occurred, and the river was higher than I’ve ever seen it before. The trail that I use to get to my site as well as the little beach next to my site were flooded. The water came up onto my site, several feet higher than it usually is.
Finally, I saw some signs of spring on my site. Two different varieties of shrubs displayed beautiful buds. The honeysuckle had new berries. New grasses and ephemerals were growing in the little patches of dirt on my site. A few of the trees on my site, including common buckthorn, yellow birch, and box elder, had not yet begun budding, but are probably close.
On my way up the trail, I was blessed enough to see some ostrich fern!
I went down to the Salmon Hole on one of the first truly warm spring days of the year. However, when I got to my site, there were not very many signs of spring to observe. There were no wildflowers or flowering trees yet. Still, I could hear birds calling down the path, so I went on a little walk to see what signs of spring I could find along the way. (In hindsight, I did not choose a great site for my phenology site. There is not an abundance of vegetation and it is closer to the road, so animals don’t generally come there. I did not realize these things before, but the lesson has been learned.)
First, I saw a few birds that I was able to identify as female cardinals. Then, I saw what I believe to be a female Garganey duck and a Canada goose. Finally, I stumbled upon a small patch of sand with several different animal tracks on it. One set I was able to identify as dog tracks. Another I believe to be turkey tracks. The third set of tracks is very difficult for me to classify. It looks like the animal is a bounder, but I’m not too confident in that. It looks like the animal almost has hands because the fingers are so defined. It has five fingers and claws, and it looks like the back feet and front feet are very similar to each other. I honestly have no idea what it could be.
Leaving my site, I was very excited to hear a pileated woodpecker. I searched for it and found it in a nearby tree for a few seconds before it flew away.
Using Biofinder, I found out that my site on the Winooski River is one of Vermont’s highest priority landscapes. I also found out that there are rare and uncommon animal species at my site. My site is part of a riparian wildlife connectivity area, and is a highest priority surface water and riparian area. It makes sense to me that my site is of high priority to the area because riparian areas help mitigate the effects of flooding and other ecological processes. Riparian areas also help mitigate effects of stormwater runoff, because some of the runoff will percolate down into the ground before reaching the river and flowing into Lake Champlain.
Although I am not very confident in this classification, I believe that my site may be a Calcareous Riverside Seep. I came to this conclusion after classifying it as an open and shrubby wetland and a wet shore. The substrate of my site is almost completely exposed bedrock, so that is why I think it might be a Calcareous Riverside Seep. There is also a lot of moss growing on my site, and according to Wetlands, Woodlands, Wildlands, this type of community supports strong bryophyte growth. I would classify the area around my site as a River Sand or Gravel Shore, but where my site is specifically is about 90% exposed bedrock.
Using the Winter Twig Identification sheet, I was able to identify two trees on my phenology site. The first tree I identified was a Green Ash. I could tell this was a Green Ash because the bud the tree had opposite branching, rough, dry buds, and bundle scars forming a crescent on the twigs. The second tree I identified was a Red Maple. I observed that the tree had opposite branching, and smooth, red buds.
I spotted these tracks in the snow on my phenology site. The animal appears to be a bounder, which I could tell by observing that the hind feet land directly behind the front feet. It is very hard to see the number of toes, although I would guess that there are five toes. The size of the tracks was around 1.5-2 inches, but it was hard to due recent warm weather and melt. However, because of my site’s proximity to water, I could make an educated guess that the animal that left these tracks is a mink. Minks are in the weasel family, distinguishable by their number of toes, slightly larger tracks, and claws. They are semiaquatic, and eat many aquatic species. The third picture shows the mink tracks leading down onto the frozen river, as it was likely hunting for food.
I was able to identify two plants on my site: the wild honeysuckle and the silky dogwood.
I identified the wild honeysuckle by its berries and the unique shape it grows in. The berries are a bright orange or red color. The plant is a woody plant, but it is a special kind of shape called a liana, which is a woody plant with a vine-like growth form.
I identified the silky dogwood by the dark red color of the stems and the opposite leaves. They are also known for growing in wetlands.
My comparison phenology site is on Narrow River in Narragansett, Rhode Island. This site is similar to my site at the Salmon Hole because they are both riparian areas on rivers in New England. They both have many trees and plants.Both sites have grasses that are typical of wetlands. However, there are a few differences. One difference is that the Winooski River empties into Lake Champlain, and Narrow River empties into Narragansett Bay, which is the ocean. Another difference is that my site at the Salmon Hole is mostly composed of rock outcroppings, whereas this site only has some small rocks. Narrow River also does not have as many species of fish or the quantity of fish that the Winooski River has at the Salmon Hole. The site on Narrow River also has much less industrial development around it impacting the land compared to the Salmon Hole.