Phenology Blog

by Maxwell Horovitz

December 8, 2017
by mhorovit


Welcome to my phenology blog!

Over the past few months I have enjoyed exploring a natural area of my choosing in Centennial woods. I have come to refer to this natural area as the Ridge Line. I really had a great time because this assignment gave me an excuse to escape campus for a little while every couple of weeks and re-connect with the natural world. The posts in this blog are scattered below, with the most recent post appearing at the top. If you are interested in my discoveries, I suggest you start at the bottom of this page with first post and work your way up. Or you can use the widget bar to the right to select which post you would like to view. Enjoy!

December 8, 2017
by mhorovit

Human History of Centennial Woods

Sadly, this week was the last time I will be visiting the ridge line until mid-January. The last time I visited was yesterday, and through a dusting of snow I was searching for human land use evidence of the area. I took a longer than usual loop walking around the woods to really get a grip on the 70-acre forest and it’s landscape. A few things caught my eye, and upon further research I found that this area has a long and diverse history. One of the most easily noticeable things is the stray barbed wire segments that can be found around the woods. There is also an old cement structure, almost like a foundation of sorts. To a more trained eye, one may also notice that the majority of tree populations in the forest are pioneer species (birch, eastern white pine), indicating that the current tree growth in the area is relatively young. All of these signs mean that the forest used to be cleared and used for farming, as was much of the land in Vermont in the mid-1800s. As I was researching this, I also found that native Americans used this area, but no physical evidence remains. Today, the forest has clearly grown back after the land was purchased off of a few land owners who owned individual portions in the early 1900s. The only current evidence of human use of the area is the stormwater retention pond located a few acres north of the ridge line, and the power lines that direct the forest, creating edges. Beside these otherwise unnoticeable human interferences, Centennial woods continues to serve humans today as a forest for learning an exploration.


UVM Libraries Research Guides: Centennial Woods Natural Area: Home (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2017, from

November 29, 2017
by mhorovit

Thanksgiving Post #4 (11/29/2017)

From day to night, temperatures on the coast of Massachusetts fluctuate once late fall has turned over every last leaf from deciduous trees. The night is frozen and comfort in the evening is found in resting by a nice fire after a hearty dinner. Day breaks with the glimpse of a piercing winter sunlight. Water pooled in rocks by the water’s edge the day before was frozen overnight, and is slowly thawed by dawn. The small animals that once scurried around each crack and crevice of the shore are hunkered down for winter by this time. Remains of desperation for the last warm meal are scattered in the form of a skeleton resting up on a tree. But even now the predacious birds that had this feast are either hunkered down or have migrated to warmer climates. A pack of coyotes are the only remaining mammals that roam this area. Now they have come out from their previously prosperous forest on the other side of town and prey on domestic animals in this small town on Cape Ann, coming daringly close to civilization. The town rests and braces for the white canvas that promises to come in the near future.

Squam Rock. Gloucester, Massachusetts 

-Squam Rock Above-

-Old bones on a tree, indicating a bird had a snack here-

-Annisquam Beach and lighthouse-

The ridge line in Centennial Woods has a certain type of peacefulness that encompasses it. This comes in the form of escaping the noisy college campus or downtown. When in the forest, planes roaring overhead and traffic from the surrounding roadways can still be heard, but there are no other sensory distractions. As a result, the noises can be tuned out and a brief stroll through the woods can be very therapeutic. In Gloucester, Massachusetts the experience is slightly different. While visiting grandparents for thanksgiving as we do every other year or so, our family always enjoys the get-away. They reside in a fairly upper-class neighborhood on Cape Ann. The relatively ancient history of this Gloucester fishing town sets a tone of respect and resting peace. So when taking a walk up the short hill, past Squam rock, down the pasture, and onto the beach of Wigwam point to visit the Annisquam lighthouse it feels like less of an escape but more of an indulgence.

As a little bonus here that I am really excited about, my grandmother recently sent me archived photographs of Squam rock, the huge one pictured above. She volunteers for the local town hall, and over the past years has been tasked with categorizing and archiving old photographs of the town. So we are pretty lucky to see these and I think this is really interesting because the pictures depict the land use of the past, and the huge rock is such an unmistakable landmark, it is pretty much the only thing that hasn’t changed. Here are the two photos that I have, circa 1885:

November 6, 2017
by mhorovit

Entry #3 (11/06/2017)


-ENTRY #3 (11/06/2017)-

Today I enjoyed a nice walk through Centennial woods with my girlfriend and her massive dog, Marlow! We went to visit my phenology location; the Ridge Line. Along the way I took some notes that represented observations that I made of my surroundings, from squirrels scurrying away from us, to geese and even army jets flying overhead. Using these notes I sketched an event map that represents my experiences with visual depictions of objects and sounds I observed. I have attached a scan of it to the end of this blog post. I didn’t notice any big ecological changes, but for some reason the ground seemed to be less covered in fallen leaves than it was two weeks ago, perhaps because of all the wind we have had lately, or all the rain. Cheers!


October 22, 2017
by mhorovit

Entry #2 (10/22/2017)

Phenology Blog Entry #2

Here I have drawn a bird’s-eye view map of my location in Centennial Woods, which I have come to call the Ridge-Line.

I’ve enjoyed visiting this spot three times over the past three weeks and observing the seasonal changes. At the time that I started this blog and made my first post, it seemed that fall had not quite started yet. Most leaves on deciduous trees had only began to change color, but not fall yet. During my visit today, I noticed a considerable amount of leaves have fallen, and the temperature has dropped significantly. Other than the normal change of seasons, nothing else has physically changed about the ridge-line. Below, I have included a photo of the area taken from the same location. The top one was taken at the beginning of the month, and the bottom one was taken today. Notice the leaves covering the ground in the most recent photo:

As I sat on the ridge-line and observed nature for about 30 minutes today, I noticed a few evidences of use by little critters. For one, I saw three grey squirrels at separate times, one scurrying out from under the log I usually sit on as I approached the area. This prompted me to look around my surroundings, and I noticed many scraps of acorns littering the ground, that looked like they had been collected and cracked by these squirrels. Songbirds are still singing as well, I think they are confused by the warm weather recently. I also heard and saw two separate flocks of geese flying south as I sat there. For only 30 minutes, I observed a fair amount of animal activity, considering the small size of the ridge-line.

October 4, 2017
by mhorovit

Introduction to My Location (10/4/2017)

Welcome to my location on the ridge in Centennial woods! Click here to view in Google Maps.


My location can be found by following the main trail into Centennial woods from campus. Once you cross the creek and come to the intersection of trail heads, take the trail on your right that goes up the hill. Soon, on your left once you have reached peak elevation, you have come across my place. The above photo was taken facing 330º north-north west. I chose this place because I think it is a great vantage point for viewing the rest of the woods and it is not too much of a strenuous walk at all, and will be accessible seasonally. The surrounding area is a dry wooded area with a full over story and therefore little ground cover (bushes and small woody plants). The trees within view are a few large Norway Maples, a mixture of young and old Eastern Hemlocks, and a few large Red Oaks. The larger trees make up the over story, and the eastern hemlocks are the shortest amongst them, so clearly the most shade tolerant as the photo above was taken on a sunny day.


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