Over break, I visited one of my favorite spots a town over from my hometown. I used to visit it a lot when I was younger with my family, but hadn’t visted in a few years. Arlington’s Great Meadows (AGM) is 183 acres and located in both Arlington and Lexington, Massachusetts. It is easily accessible as it borders the Minuteman Bikepath which has many daily walkers and bikers. There are also trails in AGM that connect to other natural areas making it a perfect place for a nature outing! Because of this, there are many visitors daily.
AGM is part of the Mystic River watershed and was once a glacial lake. The area is surrounded by a wet meadow created by glacial outwash. This is a similar natural history to that of Centennial Woods, which may explain the similarities in species.
I saw many types of trees that were similar to those in Vermont: Sugar Maple, Oak, and Birch. I also stumbled across a shrub that I had never seen before. upon further investigation I discovered that it is most likely Asiatic Bittersweet, which is a very common invasive species.
I also saw some Paper Birch:
In addition, I saw some wildlife. I saw some squirrels, just like at my phenology spot in Burlington, but I also saw some birds that I had yet to see this year!
This week, when I visited my spot in Centennial Woods, I paid close attention to the tree species and later looked in Wetlands, Woodlands, Wildlands and discovered that the natural community at my spot is a Northern Hardwood Forest because there are many Sugar Maples, Yellow Birch, and American Beech. There are also Eastern White Pines, Eastern Hemlocks, and Oak trees. There are also many Intermediate Wood ferns. This makes sense, as this community is common in the Champlain Valley Region.
So much has changed at my spot since my first visit. In September, the deciduous trees, like the maples and the beech all had their leaves. Now, all that is remaining are their winter twigs. Also, there was no snow. I wonder if the snow has been deep enough for long enough for animals to live in a subnivean layer below my spot. In the fall, I saw many more birds and occasionally I would see a squirrel or a cottontail rabbit. Now, however, the only animal signs I see are those in the snow. When the leaves started to fall last fall, the ground was damp with the runoff of rainwater. Now, the ground is covered in snow and ice. The brook I walk across is no longer running water as it was in the early fall.