Same Phenology Location, New Semester! Looking at Tracks

I remember that when I first chose my phenology location I thought it would be fun to have it atop a very steep hill, then I went to my phenology location shortly after a rainfall once.  It was then that I realized it would be difficult to get there once there was snow on the ground, because even with just the muddy ground it was difficult.  One thing I did not anticipate, however, was a constant freezing and thawing resulting in a thick layer of ice coating the entire hill.  Getting up to my location involved very dextrous maneuvering, pushing my feet off of one large tree and reaching for another large tree to pull myself up the hill another couple of feet.  Once I neared the top I did find tracks, however getting to them involved very slow crawling on all fours and grabbing onto protruding roots to prevent sliding down the hill and needing to climb back up again.  I did, however, manage to get some good photos of tracks in the thin layer of snow at the top of the hill.  There were two types of tracks, both belonging to gallopers.  These were the tracks of both snowshoe hares and cottontail rabbits.  The key difference between these two tracks is their size and width.  The snowshoe hare has a print that is about twice as long and much wider that the cottontail rabbits, and in the images below you can see the much narrower hind foot mark of the cottontail rabbit and the wider print of the snowshoe hare.

As for trees at my site, the only trees I was able to reach without risking falling down the hill were small coniferous trees and large deciduous trees with no low-hanging branches.  As a result I was able to take pictures of their bark, which I can identify the trees by, but I was not able to navigate over towards smaller trees to see and take pictures of their twigs.  At my phenology location I identified paper birch, Eastern white pine, and and red maple trees based on their bark.  Bonus video of me sliding down the icy hill after finishing taking photos of tracks: IMG_9279

Human History of Centennial Woods

In order to learn more about my phenology location in the Centennial Woods, I went into the special collections area of the library and found a senior thesis on the area by Elaine Vidal.  Included within her thesis is an in-depth analysis of the history of the land.  Using a detailed map of the area I was able to pinpoint the approximate location of my phenology spot.  I have previously noted that my area sits on top of a steep incline, and it is for this reason that the area was used as animal pastures.  While there are some areas of the centennial woods that were used for farmland, there is evidence that animals were once kept on the hilly areas.  In particular, according to the map, there should be an oak tree with an indent that is shaped like a chain fence.  This tree is living proof of the fence that was once used as a boundary for animal grazing areas.  Additionally, about 100 yards away from my phenology place there is a concrete wall that has graffiti all over it.  This collapsed concrete structure is what remains of an old ROTC bunker.  It is incredibly interesting that using my knowledge of Centennial Woods, I was able to locate my phenology location on Elaine Vidal’s hand-drawn map and then investigate my proximity to notable landmarks that display human history in the area.  I am excited to go back to my phenology location and explore the area for the oak tree that has been imprinted on by an old fence.


Vidal, Elaine. “Wildness in Our Midst: Stories of Centennial Woods: a Senior Thesis.”University of Vermont, 2002.


Photo credit Elaine Vidal

New Phenology Location: Tettegouche State Park

Mabel Wright writing style:

-How contact with nature feels – emotional connection

-Nature is an aesthetic experience


My new location was at Tettegouche State Park on Lake Superior.  More specifically, it was in a high elevation area, providing a wonderful view onto Lake Superior.  As I sat near the edge surrounded by trees which protected me from the nipping wind, I could smell the gentle and pleasant aroma of pine needles.  The sun, which was low in the sky, gave me the opportunity to see an otherwise undetectable light snow.  The small icy flakes, invisible under standard conditions, could faintly be seen – the late day sunlight falling upon them.  The high wind and low temperatures kept the state park almost empty and allowed me to feel as if I were the one discovering all of this as oppose to being just another tourist.  Waves brought water to the mainland where if froze to the rocks on the shore, creating a brittle layer of protection between the shore and the harsh environment around them.  Stepping closer to the edge, out of tree cover, the wind was able to reach me.  This provided a feeling of liberation: freedom from the stresses of everyday life.  I no longer worried about my cold fingers or the long drive I had home.  I looked around me at the never-ending water in front of me, and the steep cliffs on either side of me.


Mary Holland

-Science for the lay person

-stories and curiosities of individual species


In my Vermont phenology location, there was not any snow the last time I went, however there was snow at Tettegouche.  This makes sense because Tettegouche State Park is located in northern Minnesota, this location is much further north than the Centennial woods location.  For this reason, it would make sense that Tettegouche would be colder and have snow.  Tettegouche was also much windier.  Tettegouche is located on Lake Superior, and on the shore half of the park is completely exposed to the lake; the reason that Tettegouche is much windier is because there is a large side of the park where there are no trees to block the wind, as oppose to centennial woods where you are surrounded by trees.  The wildlife that was dominant in my Vermont phenology location the last time I checked in was small birds.  I noticed no small birds in the Tettegouche location.  This could be for a couple of reasons: first is that it is several weeks later into the year.  It is possible that there were birds at Tettegouche 3 or 4 weeks ago and that they flew south for the winter.  It is also possible that small birds like the species in Centennial woods cannot brave the offshore winds from Lake Superior and are never found in this area.


This is my location on a google map in case the embedded map doesn’t show up.  It’s being stubborn.

Event Map

Birds-eye map

Last time I went to my site in the Centennial Woods all of the trees still had all of their leaves and all of the foliage was green.  Returning on the 22nd, however, most of the leaves had fallen and those that remained were all different shades of red and orange.  The ground was densely littered with these bright leaves.  Although the trees didn’t show any signs of nests, woodpecker holes, or hives, there was a suspicious hole in the ground that was certainly dug by an animal.

About My Site

My phenology site is located in the Centennial Woods. Upon entering the Centennial Woods, if you follow the most well walked path until you reach the first intersection, take a right up a large hill, and then go off the path to a graphitized wall you will be very close. From there you can see a very steep hill that appears to have an erosion path going down it: just up there is my location. I thought this would be an interesting place to choose because of its incredibly steep incline. I am most curious to see how different it looks when all of the melting snow from higher elevations uses this location as a path to get down to the stream. There is a distinct pattern to be seen where not much grows on the steep incline besides larger and more established trees, whereas small shrubs and ferns are able to grow at the top because it begins to even out. The most common woody plants are Red Oak trees because they are able to grow on the steep incline.


Site Location

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