My Centennial Woods Visit 12/7/17

I have returned to my location in the woods for the last time this year, as I won’t be returning until mid January. The woods felt very different even just from my last visit. While going into the entrance to centennial woods, I was met by a much browner landscape than before, a sure sign that the transition from fall to winter is almost complete; all that’s lacking now seems to be snow. What really captured my attention was just how quiet it was. The breeze wasn’t strong enough to sway the trees or low lying plants, and not an animal could be seen or heard, so I was the only thing making noise, as I crunched through the leaves and pine cones scattered along the trail.

When I reached my spot, I was quite startled, as there were two small children running around the open space, laughing and playing, accompanied by their mom. While almost initially annoyed that I couldn’t come and do what I wanted to for this blog right away, I realized how great this actually is; that they’re getting to experience nature in it’s true form, and that they have access to it, so I decided to walk the trails and wait until they finished exploring before going back.

When I returned to my spot, it looked far more bare than last time. It looked as though all of the fallen branches from the wind storm had been moved or collected, most likely by humans, and many of the smaller vegetation plants have lost their leaves and turned brown. Furthermore, the log I oftentimes sit on has been moved across the open area, and now sits by the large eastern white pine, and a new branch lies here as well. Other than these slight changes, the flora of my location appears to be roughly the same as last time.

As I stood up against an oak tree,I heard some small chirps, then saw a black capped chickadee fly over my head and onto a pine branch. Then I heard a rustling in the leaves, and saw a squirrel digging through them. It saw me, and we both stopped moving and stared at each other for a while, it getting up on its hind legs, before it ran up a tree, and jumped branch to branch, tree to tree.

I found myself leaving my place far more relaxed and peaceful than I was when I arrived, as the woods took away all the stress I was/am feeling due to finals coming up.

Human History of Centennial Woods

Centennial Woods is a 70 acre area consisting of hardwoods, streams, wetlands, conifer stands, and fields, located next to the UVM campus, and is one of the nine natural areas managed by the UVM Environmental Program. Today there are extensive trails winding through the area, connecting each of the different landscapes for hiking. However, in the late 1800s through the early 1900s, much of the land in centennial woods was cleared and used for agricultural purposes, which can be seen firsthand through leftover barbed wire. It is also logical to assume this land was also used for logging, as a vast majority of the land was cleared, and logging was a huge industry in Vermont. It is known/believed that the land was cleared because most of the trees are at the same stage of growth and development currently, meaning they all started to grow at the same time. Furthermore, pioneer species such as birches and eastern pines, which are abundant in my location, are also present, meaning regrowth of the forest is newer. Since the area has become a natural area, it has become able to regrow to where it is today, although human activities still remain, such as power lines standing tall above the edge between the forest and the marsh.


UVM Libraries Research Guides: Centennial Woods Natural Area: Home. (n.d.). Retrieved December 06, 2017, from

Eagle Lake 11/25/17

This time around, I am not at my usual place in Centennial Woods, because I was home this week visiting my family in Rochester, New York. On my way back to school, we stopped and spent some time at Eagle Lake in the Adirondacks. I picked this spot because it was absolutely beautiful, and on my way home we passed it and I thought it was really pretty, so I wanted to stop and explore.

It is right up at the edge of the water, where the golden woods meet the clear, blue water, and when you look across the narrow lake, the other side is filled with conifers that are growing right on top of a rocky cliff. I was there around four, so the sun was starting to set, creating a pink haze both in the clouds, and on the surface of the slowly rocking water. In the water, there was a lone loon, some stray minnows, and some pondweeds, two of which I learned were invasive to the area. As I looked around the woods, I saw many mature trees, such as oaks, Eastern White Pines, and Basswood, all of which had bird’s nests in them, although most nests appeared to be abandoned, which makes sense considering the season. There was also one birch tree, which had been cut down, so the trunk was lying behind the stump; I wondered why someone would cut it down in the middle of the woods, especially if they were just going to leave the trunk behind. Some of these trees, including the birch, also had lichen and mosses growing on them, which kept the gold and brown winter woods feeling a little more like summer due to their green color. Unfortunately, there was a fair amount of litter, ranging from beer bottles to McDonald’s bags, which saddened me, though I was sure to pick them up so the animals and other visitors didn’t have to see or live amongst that. It was also very quiet, and the only sounds I heard was the quiet lapping of the water at the shore, one vocal crow, the wind swaying the trees, and the crunching of the leaves under my feet. All these sights, except for the litter, quiet sounds, and the slight wind created a tranquil, calm environment, and an hour passed in what felt like five minutes.

The ecology and phenology of Eagle Lake has both similarities and differences to that of Centennial Woods. In both locations, there are a few mature Eastern White Pines, and their pine needles and pinecones cover the ground. Both also have only one Basswood in the designated area, and there are dozens of Red and White Oak trees in both locations, with the majority of the leaves and other natural items covering the ground coming from the oak trees. Furthermore, both locations have birds nests, crows, a few remaining small birds, and the leaves on the deciduous trees are mostly gone, except for a few, though all are dead, as there have been many frosts. However, there are many ecological and phenological differences between the two. Eagle Lake had an abundance of small acorns, whereas Centennial Woods only has a few. My area at Eagle Lake is also both woods and part lake, unlike Centennial Woods, which means that there was also a loon, pondweed, and a few stray minnows. Eagle Lake also has an abundance of clovers and a few seedy dandelion puffs along with a couple of extremely invasive and harmful species which are greatly affecting the ecosystem there, such as milfoil and curly leaf pondweed, which are reducing biodiversity, which my area in Centennial Woods does not have.

This was a very beautiful location, with many sights, sounds, and species, and I am very grateful I picked it for my second location. [All photos were taken by Madison Busacco]

Eagle Lake Location 11/25/17

Centennial Woods Site 11/5/17

Today, I made my way back to my site at Centennial Woods. Since last time, the temperature has been consistently colder, we’ve had a few days of rain, and last Sunday night we had a massive wind storm with really fast and strong winds. Once I entered the woods, my walk looked and felt very different from last time. There were many broken branches and trees that got knocked over from the wind storm, and less leaves on the trees, so the path felt more open and exposed to the sky.

At my place, there were many broken branches strewn across the ground, as a result of the strong, heavy winds. Most were fairly small, but there were a couple of very large branches that got knocked down, making it feel quite different from last time I visited. The large Eastern White Pine looked different, as there were large, broken branches caught and laying on other ones up in the tree, as I photographed.

The leaves on the trees are now almost entirely gone, as only a couple of the young maple trees had approximately 20% of their leaves left. As a result of this, the ground is completely covered in leaves, twigs, pinecones, and small branches. Compared to last time, there is a much higher proportion of red and white oak leaves on the ground compared to last time.

The woods are also more quiet than last time. I can hear the underlying noise of crickets, but only heard birds calling and chirping a few times while out there. However, I heard and saw more squirrels than last time. A squirrel with a pinecone ran by me, and I saw a baby squirrel scurrying up and down a pine tree, all while squeaking and barking, which I assumed was in part because I was there and potentially scaring it.

So, some changes have certainly occurred since last time, in large part because of the windstorm, but also because of the early signs of winter. [All photos and maps were taken/drawn by Madison Busacco]

My Place Visit on 10/22/17

Today, I ventured back out into Centennial Woods, and followed the well-worn path back to my place. While still completely recognizable, it is obvious that many changes have occurred since my last visit in early October. Although the temperature today is uncharacteristically warm for the end of October, being a sunny and warm 75-degree day, cooler days and chilly nights have become a recent trend, and the foliage is well representative of that. The ground is now almost completely covered in Eastern Hemlock needles, large, sappy pine cones, and an array of mostly golden yellow maple and oak leaves. Similarly, the leaves on all the surrounding trees have replaced their once-green color with that of yellow and hints of red, and the quantity of leaves on the deciduous trees has greatly begun to diminish, as they’ve lost around 40 percent of their leaves thus far.

Furthermore, there is evidence of wildlife all around me. In fact, the longer I sit here with only the clacking of my keyboard keys making noise, the more aware I become of the wildlife. I can hear crickets and other insects chirping, the occasional bird call, and one very vocal crow who’s cawing off to my left.

As I sit looking down the sloped land, I can see small bugs, such as ants and ladybugs, crawling in the dirt and on the trees, woodpecker holes in the Eastern Hemlock, a large bird’s nest located high up in the Sugar Maple tree farthest to the right from the log I’m sitting on, as well as one in a hemlock further down. All of this makes it clear that there is a lot of wildlife in my Centennial Woods Place, and that many changes have occurred since my last visit.

Lastly, I’ve included a hand-drawn birds-eye map of my place, as seen above, showing the prominent features of the area. [All photos were taken by Madison Busacco]

October 1st 2017

Hi and welcome to my place!

My place is located in Centennial Woods, and is very easy to get to. All you have to do is go to the main entrance, with the Centennial Woods sign, and walk through the heavily worn trail, duck under the fallen tree, continue down the hill a little ways, and when you see the first clearing off to the right, which is sloped, you’ve reached the right place.

I had chosen this location because I liked that it had a mixture of some open space as well as more heavily wooded areas all in one spot, and, not going to lie, I figured it would be nice to have a relatively quick commuting time to my place when it is  cold out.  More importantly, I found the area to be extremely calming, peaceful, and relaxing, and it even had a log that served me well as a bench, and I pictured myself there often.

In my place, there are some ferns and maple saplings growing, although much of the ground is left barren or covered in fallen leaves from red oaks and the occasional maple. Most of the trees appear to be Sugar Maples and Eastern White Pines, some of which are dead, and there are also a couple of Northern Red Oaks.

In the photos above, you can see a large, dead pine, one of the ferns and the ground cover, or lack thereof, and some of the maples. I hope you enjoy my place’s transformations throughout the seasons! [All photos were taken by Madison Busacco]



Centennial Woods Location Map

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