A Change of Pace

A Phenology Blog

February 5th Post

Since my phenology site isn’t in a place isolated from humans, there aren’t many animal tracks.  However, there are many plants and trees!  With the winter twig identification sheet, I found a sugar maple, Norway maple and box elder.



Since my last visit, the landscape has changed a lot.  Obviously, their is snow on the ground and the trees have lost their leaves.  Also, the pond is frozen and the wildlife, like the ducks, that live around the pond have left for the winter.  The birds in the trees have also left, as I can’t hear them singing their songs.  I will occasionally see a murder of crows, but that is it.

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

Human History

I wasn’t surprised to learn that the small forest has been largely influenced by humans.  The trees stand tall, which tells me that they’ve been there for a while.  But spaces have been cut out for the use of humans.

The constructed wetland has been built for a place to put extra water.  Although humans built it, it is very good for the natural area so the runoff has somewhere to be filtered.

A lot of the trees were purposely planted in this area for the golf course that is behind it.  My guess is that the trees provide a bit of a noise break so the golfers aren’t distracted.

I envision this forest as much denser in the past.  UVM must have cut it down to build these residential halls and the parking lot.  Biodiveristy in this area was lost and the species had to move somewhere else.  My question is – does the social benefit equal the social cost?

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

My Backyard

I sit in my chair and listen to the sounds.  My body fills with serenity.  The bee hums a quiet song that only the plants can hear, how I wish I could hear it too!  The birds flutter, flapping their wings as if they need to escape the cold realities of winter approaching them.  I fear for them, but know their instincts will guide them to the south.

My nose is filled with a certain smell.  It doesn’t seem natural.  What is natural?  Is it fresh oxygen from the trees?  Is it cold wind blowing at the top of a mountain?  Natural could be relative.  I smell lavender, then realize a candle is lit next to me.  I blow it out.  I strive to immerse myself in the nature of my backyard.

I crush a fallen leaf in my hand.  My senses tingle and I feel happiness: fall is here.  The smoothness of the leaf makes my palms feel cozy.  Piece by piece, the leaf falls to the ground.  Goodbye leaf, happy decomposing.

The garbage truck drives through my alley.  Serenity is gone.  The loud “BEEP BEEP BEEP” makes me angry.  Can’t I get a break from my human life?  I fall deep into my book.  Maybe that will help me escape.


My backyard differs from my place in Burlington.  In both areas, nature isn’t separate from humans.  My backyard was human built, and my place in Burlington is human edited.  The intersection of humans and nature is hard to escape.

The ecology is very similar.  There are two trees, one is a maple and I knew that for the majority of my life.  The second is an American Beech!  I was very surprised.  I didn’t think that Vermont’s native tree before the Great Cutover stood tall in my backyard.  It was always a beautiful tree in the fall and the spring.  The vibrant colors brought my family outside to relax on our patio.

My backyard also consists of many small bushes.  They are similar to the small forest behind WDW in that I don’t know what species they are and in that they still have their leaves.

Birds and squirrels also inhabit my backyard.  My dogs chase them around, probably giving them heart attacks.  One difference I’ve noticed is the sound of cicadas buzzing uncontrollably.  I get used to it after the first five minutes outside.

November 28, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

November 6th Visit

Since my last visit, there hasn’t been many changes.  The fall feel is still in the air.  The leaves are still falling and the cattails whistle in the wind that stand near the pond.  The birds have started to fly south, as their chirps aren’t as present.  Additionally, the ground is more wet than usual since there has been huge amounts of rain in the past few weeks.

The maples, beeches and the basswoods have lost most of their leaves and the overstory branches crackle in the wind.  The understory are really fast changing.  The Burberrys are red and birds nibble off their fruits.  Below is my gallery of  photos!


November 6, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

October 23rd Visit

Since my last visit, I’ve noticed a lot of changes.  The most prominent change was in the leaves.  They have began to change and the birds are beginning to move out of the area.  The newly fallen leaves and sticks will surely give a crunch to your step.

I noticed that some of the trees have been turning before the others and they turn different colors.  The Sugar Maples changed relatively quickly, and they are now red.  The American Beeches are beautiful.  They were a little bit behind the maples, and they turned into a dark bronze.  The Basswoods changed along with the maples, and their leaves turned yellow.  The conifers did not change color.

In the understory, the plants are losing their leaves a lot slower than the overstory.  Some have began to change color, but only slightly.  I saw squirrels running around, gathering their food.  In the pond next to the path, I saw ducks swimming happily around in the water that I presume is very cold.

Around the pond, I’ve noticed a lot of cattails.  The land around this pond is hilly and it seems like there is a lot of runoff that goes into it.  I think it might be a constructed wetland for excess rainwater.  Phosphorous levels are probably very high.

The only difference in the soil is that there is more organic matter on the surface.  It is still the great, loamy soil it was before!

I took a moment to breathe in the air and to relax.  I listened to the birds chirp and the water splash.  With the sports season coming to an end, I again heard the soccer fans cheer on their team.  I pondered the question of whether nature can ever be completely separate from humans.  I think that nature should be preserved and that there should be some spaces on Earth where humans never touch.  I look at myself as a guest to Earth. Earth is having me over for a dinner party, and I should be respectful of her space.



October 23, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

44°27’59.4″N 73°11’52.3″W

Behind the WDW residential hall is a beautiful strip of forest that sits between the parking lot and the Burlington Country Club.  I sometimes come out here to do homework or to just take a break.  To get here, go to the parking lot that is outside of the back of the WDW residential hall and walk straight back – you can’t miss it.

This place has a wide array of different plants.  There are Basswood, American Beech, Red Maple, and Eastern Hemlock trees in the over story.  Although this is a big area and I can’t make a precise count, there are 10% Sugar Maple, 30% Basswood, 40% American Beech and 20% conifers.  The understory mainly consists of small bushes and gravel.  I identified a few Burberrys.

I dug down into the soil to see what it mostly consisted of.  As expected, the O Horizon was mostly organic matter: leaves, needles and grass.  I kept digging.  The A and B horizon told me that there is mostly loamy soil here which was what I guessed because of the vegetation here.

At this point, the trees haven’t started to change and the birds are still singing their songs.  In this place,  there is a small path that people walk on so there is evidence of humans here.  I found a few plastic bottles and cigarette butts.  As I walked along the path, I noticed the ‘edge effect.’  The trees and the species living in the outer areas are thriving more than the others that are deeper in the small forest.

While I was in the small forest, I could hear noises, both natural and human.  Naturally, the trees rustled, birds chirped, squirrels jumped from tree to tree.  Additonally, car horns echoed between the trees, chants for UVM’s soccer team shook the trees and the sound of tires turning on asphalt made a quiet hum.

There aren’t too many smells.  It rained today, so the smell of damp leaves and wet dirt filled my nose.  I breathed in the air and my nose could detect that I wasn’t secluded from humans.  Gas emissions and asphalt were still present in my smells.



October 2, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a Comment


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