It has been quite an interesting past couple of weeks for the Ridge-Line in terms of weather. We have had a couple bouts where it really felt like Spring for a few days, and then winter would close back in, giving us a cold reminder that full bloom has yet to come. Just this past weekend in mid-April, we had a storm that produced a quite unpleasant wintery mix of rain, snow, sleet and hail. This has left the landscape covered in a sort-of crusty snowy ice layer about a half an inch thick. All the buds and birds who thought it was time to show their colors during the previous week were in for a surprise.
The date of this blog post indicates that some signs of spring should be showing. But at this time, the Ridge Line seems to still be plunged in winter time. There are no buds peeking up through the leaves and snow. As well as no signs of animals other than deer and squirrels. Amphibians are definitely not using the Ridge Line at this time. Because the stream in Centennial Woods is not more than 400 feet away, I can assume that amphibians are using this space in the summer months. But I spotted no signs of such amphibians during my recent visit.
Because Centennial Woods is an urban forest, it is surrounded by edges, and even has a power line running through it. This power line runs horizontally about a quarter mile to the north of the Ridge Line. It is a large powerline, so it is safe to assume that it has effects on the woods. It also has a small stream running through it. But the edge effect is perhaps more noticeable around the urban areas that surround the woods edges. It is here that animals such as house cats may enter the woods, hunting smaller animals such as birds and Chipmunks. The edge effect is also noticeable from the sky, as the Burlington International Airport is not far away. Because of this, the sounds of planes can be heard from inside the forest year-round. All this aside though, Centennial Woods does create habitat for forest interior species such as deer. Once again because the area is surrounded by human development, it creates a much-needed refuge for these animals. I would even go so far as to say that it provides refuge for humans as well. Because each time I am in the woods, although I can hear planes and cars and see signs of human use, I feel quite removed from the urban setting of university.
Below I have included a few sketches of my most notable observations on my most recent visit.