Human History

Centennial woods is a natural area which is managed by the Environmental Program of UVM. The woods are filled with hiker and dog friendly paths for casual hiking. This allows for a lot of human traffic throughout the woods. However, this 70 acre wooded area was not always like this. In the 1800s and early 1900s, the woods were cleared for agricultural use. There is plenty of barbed wire that remains from the agricultural history of the forest. During this time, the timber industry was a prominent part of the Burlington economy, so perhaps the trees where logged and sold, as many other trees were during this time period. The woods have been able to grow back in the past years. It is evident that the forest is not an old growth, but a rather new growth because of the past history of deforestation at this site. Birch trees and eastern white pines are both pioneer species and are plentiful in Centennial Woods. Eastern white pines are also known to grow in where old agricultural land and hay fields used to be. This helps suggest that the land was cleared and used as some kind of agricultural area. I have noticed that there are a lot of fallen paper birch trees, which would make sense as the short life span of the original new birches as well as the second birches that grew after deforestation is coming to an end.

Map of Burlington, From UVM Special Collections



UVM Libraries Research Guides: Centennial Woods Natural Area: Home. (n.d.). Retrieved December 06, 2018, from

The Changing Landscapes of Centennial Woods Natural Area: A Field Guide [PDF]. University of Vermont Natural Areas. University of Vermont Environmental Program,


Animal Signs in the Snow

In addition to the plant life I saw at Centennial today (check out my last post!) I also found a lot of evidence of wildlife and animals!

First, I saw damage to multiple tree trunks and bark. At first I suspected diseases or insect infestations, but these damages could also have been caused by mice or cottontail rabbits.

I also found multiple tracks in the snow. I saw many human and dog prints, which were easily identifiable.

Suspected dog tracks.

I also found some tracks which were harder to identify. I used my mammal tracks and scat identification booklet to try to figure out which mammals were roaming Centennial.

I decided that the the tracks are those of cottontail rabbit.  

Cottontail rabbit tracks.
Cottontail rabbit tracks.


Ferns, Moss, and Fungi!

Today, December 6, 2018, I visited my phenology spot. It was very cold and snowy, with the temperature being around 28 degrees fahrenheit. Despite the slippery slopes in Centennial, I made it to my phenology spot! It took me a little longer than usual due to the ice coating of the paths and boardwalks.

The icy path.

At my spot I discovered some new nature that I have never noticed before. First, on a fallen birch tree I spotted some white mushrooms. I had difficulty identifying this species of mushroom. At first I guessed it was a birch polypore, mostly because it was growing on a birch tree. However, after closer inspection I realized my mushroom was flatter and whiter than the birch polypore. Also, I researched more on the birch polypore mushroom, and they mature in September and it seems unlikely that the birch polypore will still be alive in December. Perhaps it is an oyster mushroom, but those normally do not survive in the winter either. I think further observation of these mushrooms would be necessary for me to correctly identify it, but I think my best guess at this point is an oyster mushroom. This reminded me of the mushroom I saw on the fallen birch in my Belmont blog. 

Mushroom growing on a fallen paper birch tree.

I also noticed the ferns in my phenology spot. Even coated in snow they still retained their green leaves. This is makes me think that they are perhaps intermediate wood ferns, the most common fern type in New England and also evergreen fern.

A suspected intermediate wood fern.

Lastly, I saw some moss and lichens growing on multiple trees.

Moss growing on the side of a tree.


Belmont, Massachusetts Phenology Spot

November 23, 2018

Belmont, Massachusetts

In the Style of Mary Holland: Description of Belmont Phenology Spot

Located just 7 miles from downtown Boston, wildlife blooms in the Mass Audubon Habitat located in Belmont, Massachusetts. Turtle pond is located in this wildlife sanctuary.

Frogs and Turtles:

As the name suggests, the pond is home to a variety of turtles and frogs, including the ever dangerous snapping turtle. The pond freezes over in the brisk temperatures of November, so she needs to enter a dormant or low response state by lowering her metabolism and her heart rate. The winter here in Belmont reaches below zero degrees fahrenheit and other animals also deal with the cold in there own ways.

The Chipmunk:

The chipmunk can be seen in November eating as many sorts of fruit, nuts, and seeds. She needs to store as much food as possible in her stomach and burrow. She stuffs her cheeks with the food scavenged and brings it back to her burrow. Although she hibernates through the winter, she awakens every few days to raise her body temperature and feed on her scavenged food.

Eastern Grey Squirrel:

The eastern grey squirrel can also be seen feeding aggressively. She does not hibernate, but survives the harsh winter on her fat reserves, therefore it is important for her to find as much food as possible at this time to prepare for the harsher months again. Squirrels and chipmunks seen in Belmont are plump and prepared- there is much to feed on in the sanctuary. Although the icy temperatures have lead to a decrease in the humans visiting the area, there are still plenty animals alive and well in the Habitat.

A chimpmunk spotted today, feeding to prepare for the winter months ahead.
The frozen pond, which houses the snapping turtles.

In the Style of Aldo Leopold: Comparison of Burlington and Belmont

What a beautiful thing that nature is so similar yet so different across the world. In Burlington Vermont, the temperatures are far lower than in Belmont, Massachusetts, yet the phenology is remarkably similar. Both locations are within a sort of wildlife sanctuary: the UVM owned Centennial Woods, and the Mass Audubon owned Habitat. Because of this trait, the two locations are crowded with visitors and their respective dogs on their trails. The tree species are also similar: both locations contain paper birch, sugar maple, eastern hemlock, and eastern white pine among others. However, the differences in location are visible by the leaves. The leaves in Centennial woods have all fallen, but there are some leaves remaining in the warmer climate of Belmont. At the Belmont locations, there is a small birch stand. Although there are birch trees at Centennial, there are far more birches in Belmont. This may be because of the disturbances of trails being built here in the past. Another similarity of the two spots is the presence of water. The Centennial Brook flows through the woods in Burlington and the Turtle Pond is situated in Belmont. These bodies of water affect the wildlife by creating a home for aquatic creatures and provides a drinking source for the land living wildlife as well. The two spots in very different locations provide an insight to the phenology of Vermont versus that of Massachusetts.  

Turtle Pond, with a view of some pine and hemlock trees.
Mushrooms growing on a fallen paper birch.
A dog footprint frozen in mud, illustrating the human interference with the nature.
The paper birch grove.
leaves remaining on some trees.

Phenology Map google Maps Location


11/4/2018- Visit 3

Today I visited my phenology spot for a third time. It was beautiful weather, about 50 degrees and sunny at 12 pm on November 4, 2018. I was joined on my journey by a vistor today and we observed the trees continuing to change color and the leave coverage of the ground increased. Many other trees, like the yellow birch, have lost all their leaves. The massive amount of leaf loss this season has coated the ground in leaves and therefore making the O level of the soil very rich with material. The nutrients and iron from the decomposition of the leaves will over time increase the iron levels in the lower levels into the sublevels to create nutrients for the new generation of trees to grow in the soil.

For example, this oak tree still has some leaves, but they have changed color and are now a dark orange brown color:

10/21/18 Changes in Phenology and Wildlife

Today, October 21st, 2018, I visited my phenoligy place again.

Fall has arrived!!!!!

I noticed a lot of changed in the leaves of the trees and the amount of leaves on the ground. There is not much sign of animals. I did not hear any birds chripping or wood-pecking . I did see a chipmunk run by, but other than that their are not yet any signs of animal activity.

The amount of leaves on the ground has definetelly increases since my last visit. The various sorts of colors of the leaves shows how many of the leaves fallen are fairly new, but there are also plenty that have reached a dark brown, indicating that they fell from their orignal tree a while ago:


This Norway Maple’s leaves are turning yellow:


Birds eye view of my phenology spot:

Photo taken from the spot marked “MAIN SPOT” on map, for reference. Also shows the changing colors of the trees in the area.


Temperature: 40 degrees Fahrenheit

Time: about 3 pm

Windy and cloudy, some snow


My phenology spot is in centennial woods. I first discoverd it while studying for the tree quiz in September. It is a little off the main path after crossing the river and there is a small clearing. What struck me most about this particular spot is the tree bark and growth of some of the trees. Two of them are really close toghether and another pair appears to twist around each other. The vegetatian is very thick in general and there are many types of woody plants. There is also a patch of ferns growing in the steep hill at the base of the trees.

The most common woody plants include:

  • Red Maple
  • White Oak
  • Eastern White Pine
  • Eastern Hemlock
  • Yellow Birch
  • Paper Birch
  • American Beech



Location: (it wouldn’t let me embed it)

Phenology Spot Location Link