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Tica's Phenology Blog

May Phenology Visit

Posted: May 1st, 2018 by mjdrury

Unfortunately I was unable to make it to my phenology site again because I am still not entirely healed from my surgery. Instead of detailing the phenology changes that I observed at my site, I will write about what I assume is going on down there even though I haven’t seen it with my own eyes.

I assume that the buds on the trees in my site that I have been observing over the course of the past few months are finally starting to unfurl into leaves. My phenology site is home to many Delicate Fern species which are probably transitioning from fiddlehead stage into adulthood.

Below I have included a graph that I sourced from the Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill, Vermont. This center is a University of Vermont facility that focuses on basic and applied maple research. This graph shows that Sugar Maple trees (which are present in my site) usually leaf out around the first week of May. Judging by this graph I think that it is safe to assume that the Sugar Maples on my site will be leafing out any day now.  

Nature and culture intertwine in many different ways in Centennial Woods. A well developed trail system weaves through the woods, passing very close to my phenology site. Human influence has both positive and negative effects on Centennial Woods. Humans have positively impacted Centennial Woods by making it a protected natural area in the first place. Over the years people have spent time in the woods and have come to appreciate its natural beauty. They then went on to advocate for is protection so that humans could continue to enjoy it for many years to come. That being said however, humans also have had negative effects on the area. While I have yet to find any litter at my phenology place specifically I have seen beer cans, pieces of micro plastic, and other kinds of trash on my explorations through Centennial Woods.

It is no secret that the environment and outdoor recreation are of importance to a large number of University of Vermont students. I think that it is safe to say that being “outdoorsy” is a big part of the UVM culture. Centennial Woods is very easily accessible from campus and makes it incredibly easy for UVM students to engage with the natural world. Every single time I have visited my phenology site I have run into people in and around my site, walking their dogs, doing school projects, or just taking relaxing walks through the woods.

I consider myself to be a part of my phenology place. Making trips to my phenology place over the course of this year is always an enjoyable experience. It gives me a chance to take a break and relax from by busy life on campus. I have seen the leaves on the trees turn from green to orange and fall off the trees, just to bud and leaf out again in the spring. I have seen the stream go from a trickle in the fall, to being frozen in the winter, to being swollen with snow melt in the spring. It has been incredibly rewarding and interesting to watch my site change over the course of my time at UVM.

April Phenology Post

Posted: April 16th, 2018 by mjdrury

Edge effect occurs on the border of two different habitats. It is characterized by changes in the composition of the area itself and the species that inhabit it. Areas that have symptoms of edge effect are more exposed to the sun and therefore have higher temperatures which causes the soil to be drier. Wind, erosion, and pollution are also more common. These areas are also more likely to be inhabited by invasive species and effected by companion animals such as cats and dogs. Cats and dogs jeopardize ecosystems because they are competitors to the naturally occuring predators. My phenology site also is heavily influenced by domestic dogs which were quite obviously not a part of the original ecosystem before humans brought them there. I have found multiple tracks of dogs and have seen evidence of sticks that dogs have chewed on around my site.  

Even though my phenology site is not physically located directly on the border of Centennial Woods, it is close enough to the border that multiple symptoms of edge effect are still evident. For one, while my phenology place looks entirely natural, the sound of cars, sirens, and other noises of urban influence remind me that I am still in the middle of the city everytime I go down to my phenology place. This noise pollution in my phenology place has always frustrated me. I enjoy going down to my site in Centennial woods as an escape from the urban environment that I live in but the noise pollution always pulls me back to reality. I’m sure that this noise pollution scares off species that would otherwise thrive in the physical environment of my site.  

While I have yet to see other concrete evidence of other humans visiting my site, I’m sure that people do regularly walk through or around it because it is only thirty feet or so away from the trail. Human influence most likely scares off many of the naturally occurring animals that would most likely live there if humans were not so common.

While I was unfortunately unable to make it down to my phenology place this month because of the fact that I recently had surgery and am on crutches, I am sure that there are many signs of life cropping up in my place with the recent arrival of spring. My phenology place provides habitat for some notable forest interior species. Because of the fact that my site is right on a stream, it most likely is home to some amphibians. A number of amphibian species have awoken from their hibernation and are beginning to become active again in the month of April. American Toads are breeding during this time of year. They emerge from underground where they were hibernating all winter in either the end of March or early April. They then take to shallow bodies of water (such as the stream in my phenology place) and breed. I saw an American Toad in my place last fall and I assume that they come back to my place spring after spring. I saw the American Toad at my place during the middle of the afternoon even though they are primarily nocturnal creatures which I thought was odd. A fun fact about the American Toad is that they have parotid glands behinds each of their eyes which contain a substance that is a neurotoxin, which scares off many predators. A few brave species still go after the toads such as raccoons, skunks, and garter snakes.   

I know from past visits to my phenology place last fall that my site is home to a species of fern. This is named the “Sensitive Fern” or Onoclea sensibilis. In the month of April fiddleheads start to push their way out from under the ground where they have been lying dormant all winter. I found it interesting to learn that an alternative name for “fiddlehead” is “crozier” which is the curved staff that is used by shepherds and bishops that resembles the curving head of the baby fern.    

I was disappointed that I could not make it down to my phenology site this April. I have become attached to my site as the year has gone on and am so curious about the natural occurrences that I have missed. Hopefully I will be healed up enough to be able to make it down to my site at least once before I leave Burlington for the summer!  

Hurricane Ridge Phenology Site

Posted: March 19th, 2018 by mjdrury

Over spring break I headed west to my home in Washington State. For my phenology project I went to Olympic National Park. I went on a short hike with my parents to a scenic outlook where we hung out for about an hour and took in the majesty of our surroundings. We started out at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, a small building that introduces visitors to all that Olympic National Park has to offer. Inside there is a neat topographical map of the entire park that my parents and I examined for a while, pointing out trails, rivers, and summits that the three of us have explored over the years. After poking around the visitor center for a while, we hit the trail. It was a chilly day and I was kicking myself for leaving my heavy duty puffy jacket back in Vermont. There is a lot more snow on the ground at Hurricane Ridge than there is at my phenology site in Burlington at this time of year. This is due to the fact that Hurricane Ridge is at 5,242 feet while my phenology place in Burlington at about 400 feet.

My parents and I walked down a snowy trail for about 45 minutes. The trail ran along a ridge through an evergreen forest. We were close to tree line so the trees were sparse in some places, offering spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains on one side, and Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains on the other. Our final destination and my Phenology place was a large open meadow that looked directly south into the heart of the Olympics.

My phenology site at Hurricane Ridge was drastically different than my site in Centennial Woods. I saw a lot more animal life up at Hurricane Ridge than I normally see at my site in Vermont. I saw Grey Jays (Perisoreus canadensis,) a Raven (Corvus corax,) and most notably what I’m pretty sure was an Olympic chipmunk (Tamias amoenus caurinus.) I was most excited to see the Olympic Chipmunk because they are endemic to the Olympic Mountains which means that they are found nowhere else in the world. There was not a single deciduous tree to be seen at Hurricane Ridge. I saw Douglas Firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii,) Mountain hemlocks (Tsuga mertensiana,) and Silver Firs (Abies amabilis.) All three of these tree species are very hearty and are able to withstand the harsh conditions of Pacific Northwest winters.

I have spent a great deal of time in the Olympics during summer so I am familiar with the kinds of shrubs and wildflowers that grow at Hurricane Ridge after the snow melts. Hurricane Ridge and the Olympics in general have some of the most beautiful wildflowers I have ever seen. While Hurricane Ridge is beautiful in the winter, I prefer the summer months when the meadows are painted red, orange, and purple by various species of wildflower such as Red Mountain Heather, Broadleaf Lupine, Violets, Avalanche Lily and others. All of these plants are in dormancy under the snow, ready to unfurl their leaves when the snow melts in early June. I look forward to going back to my phenology site at Hurricane Ridge this summer and observing the changes that have occurred.

Link to Hurricane Ridge on google maps:



Spring in Centennial Woods

Posted: March 5th, 2018 by mjdrury

According to the Wetland, Woodland, Wildland guide my phenology place in Centennial Woods is a Hardwood Swamp. A Hardwood Swamp is characterized by trees with deciduous leaves. The deciduous trees at my site are American Beech, Sugar Maple and Northern White Oak. The guide also stated that hardwood swamps can be found at lower elevations in Vermont. Centennial is at about 400 feet which is relatively low for this area. Centennial Brook runs through my site and judging by the lack of vegetation I think that it has flooded at some point in the recent past.

The Hardwood Swamp category offered an array of sub categories that swamps could fall into. While my phenology place does not have any Green Ash trees, the area most closely resembles a Red or Silver Maple-Green Ash Swamp. I think this because the guide describes this kind of swamp being home to Silver Maple, Sensitive Fern, European Buckthorn, Eastern Hemlock, White Oak and Yellow Birch, all of which can be found at my site.  

My phenology place looks very different from the last time I visited. This is the most drastic change that I have witnessed in my place yet. The snow is pretty much entirely gone and the stream which was frozen solid last time is flowing again. The water level seemed higher than I remember it being last fall and the water appears to be slowly eating away at the substrate on the side of the brook. This is probably due to spring runoff.

Upon looking at BioFinder I discovered that my phenology place is indeed considered a wetland. I also found that it is located within an area that is home to “rare natural communities and rare species.” It is also considered to be a “priority interior forest block.” I find it cool that there is such a highly prized natural area just a 15 minute walk from my dorm!

Unfortunately my phone got too cold and turned itself off on my walk down to my site so I have no pictures to document the experience :’)

February 2nd Visit to my Phenology Place

Posted: February 4th, 2018 by mjdrury

My Phenology place looks drastically different from when I visited it in December. The ground is completely covered in snow and the stream is frozen solid. I was able to step into the middle of the stream without the ice breaking. While the evergreen trees look exactly the same as when I first observed them in September, the deciduous trees are completely bare and there is not a single leaf left on any of them.

This was an exciting trip to my phenology place because I was able to observe the tracks left by multitude of creatures that have recently traveled through my phenology site. I found tracks belonging to humans, domestic dogs, White Tailed Deer, and White Footed Mice.

I was able to identify Yellow Birch and American Beech trees by their buds. I know that there are White Oaks on my phenology site but they are mature trees and their buds were too high up for me to examine them.

White Tailed Deer tracks. White Tailed Deer are diagonal walkers meaning that they place their back foot in the print that the front foot left behind.

A domestic dog appears to have chewed on this rotten log. It broke pieces of the log off and left them strewn around my phonology place. I know that it was a domestic dog that did this because of the many irregular and zig zagging tracks that it left behind.

Overall view of my phenology site.

These tracks appear to have been left behind by a White Footed Mouse. They were about 1/4 of an inch across and they were obviously left by a galloper leaving me to the conclusion that they were left by this species.

Labeled sketch of a Yellow Birch twig. Yellow Birch trees have an alternating bud structure.

A nice pup that I met on my way to my phenology place <3 🙂

Yellow Birch buds.

Post #4

Posted: December 9th, 2017 by mjdrury

Centennial Woods history:

About 13,500 years ago the Laurentide Ice Sheet retreated exposing the land upon which Centennial Woods now stands. A massive amount of freshwater followed the melting of the glacier creating Glacial Lake Vermont. The shoreline of Lake Vermont was about right were University of Vermont’s campus is now. This explains why the soil in Centennial Woods is so sandy. Once the glacier retreated far enough to expose the St. Lawrence River valley, sea water flowed in creating the Champlain Sea. After many years, the land rebounded, free from the weight of millions of tons of ice. Sea water no longer flowed into the Champlain valley and the Champlain Sea became Lake Champlain.

As the Burlington area warmed up, fir and spruce trees began to pop up. Moose, musk ox and caribou inhabited these early forests. This is when the first humans came onto the scene. Humans first came to the Burlington area about 11,300 years ago. They were a mobile society and they migrated seasonally following where the hunting and gathering was good. I came across an article that was talking about a UVM anthropology class that came across a 4,000 year old archeological site in Centennial Field which is near my phenology spot. They found flakes from making stone tools and the stone tools themselves. The most notable artifact that they found was a 4 inch long blank for a spear. The tools were made of chert which was probably harvested in Bristol.    

Europeans came and settled the area in the mid 1750s. The first documentation of who actually owned the land that is now Centennial woods was not until 1890. The area was then owned by C. Baxter Est., H. Stevens, Hickok Est., and the Ainsworth family. I couldn’t find any information on what they used the land for but from what I infer from the forest structure my hypothesis is that it was used for agriculture. I came across a Centennial Woods field guide that stated that there are multiple places around Centennial Woods where barbed wire can be found. This indicates that the area was probably pasture. Centennial Woods in general and my phenology site specifically is home to many White Pines. White Pines are early successional species that are known to grow in fields or pasture that are no longer in use.


My trip to my phenology place:

This Phenology Blog assignment has been my favorite that I’ve had to to in college thus far. Spending time in nature always leaves me feeling happy and content. That being said however, spending time outside is not something that I have the chance to do all that often these days. I’m very busy and I have trouble finding time to go outside so I really appreciate the fact that this assignment forces me to do so.  

I walked down to Centennial Woods at around 11:00am on a Friday morning. It was cold but the wind was still. All of the leaves are off the trees now and the forest looks quite bare. Snow covers the trail making it slick and I took a pretty major wipeout when walking down the riverbank to my place. The only signs of animal life were some chickadees singing in the treetops. The riverbank has eroded back a few inches, threatening to wash away the log that I always sit and observe my phenology place from.

View from my phenology place looking up

View from the log that I always sit and observe my Phenology Place from.

My Phonology place.

Thanksgiving Phenology Assignment

Posted: November 27th, 2017 by mjdrury

Over thanksgiving break I went on a two day and two night backpacking trip to Mount Mansfield. I thought that it would be fitting to choose the summit of the mountain as my Thanksgiving Phenology spot because of the fact that I was there just a few months ago for NR1 lab. While the views were just as stunning as ever, the summit could not have looked more different from when I saw it in the end of September.


Describing my new phenology place in the style of Mary Holland:

Winter has most certainly arrived atop the highest mountain in Vermont. Mount Mansfield reaches 4,393 feet awarding it with its title as the tallest mountain in the state. There are very few signs of animal life in this harsh environment. This is due to the fact that most mammals spend New England winters in hibernation. The only sign of mammalian life are the footprints of a rabbit or hare. While the snow on top of the mountain is relatively thin, it is interesting to note that in deeper snow, rabbits will pack down popular trails as to not to expend extra energy moving through the snow.    

Snow covers the ground and coats the trees. The temperatures have dipped into the high twenties even though it is the middle of the day. A persistent wind blows out of the East, pushing snow up against the shrubby conifers. Conifers are the only trees present because hardwood trees can not withstand the harsh conditions at the exposed summit of the mountain. Conifers are hearty trees that retain their leaves year-round and have a low rate of photosynthesis. It is common for many species of conifers to have high tolerances for low temperatures.     

Comparing the ecology and phenology of Mount Mansfield to Centennial Woods in the style of Aldo Leopold:

By the end of November, snow has blanketed the landscape at all elevations in Vermont. Wet snow that will only last for a few days falls on Centennial Woods. Fat snowflakes flurry down in droves reminiscent of the dead leaves the flurried down in the season previous. The snow comes down in a dainty manner, methodically covering every bare branch of each hardwood and every needle of each conifer.

The snow does not seem as dainty or forgiving atop the tallest mountain in Vermont. The exposed summit saw snow much earlier than Centennial Woods which sits at a much lower elevation. Ice now coats the stubby alpine trees creating spectacular crystalline sculptures that will last for the rest of the season. A bitter wind races across the barren landscape making me turn up my collar and zip up my winter jacket.

In both locations animals reveal their presence only by the footprints they leave behind. Only the bravest and hardiest of mammals dare to venture outside during the winter months. Most of their less adventurous brethren spent their summer and fall months anxiously preparing for the impending onset of winter. Their work has since been rewarded and they are now cozily hauled up in carefully prepared lairs comfortably hibernating for the winter.               


Here is a link to a video that was produced by the Vermont Center for Ecosystem Studies on the phenology of Mount Mansfield that I thought was relevant. The video states that the point of their phenology project is to observe the impacts of climate change on the mountain ecosystem.



Prompt #3

Posted: November 6th, 2017 by mjdrury

My site looks quite similar to the last time I was here a couple of weeks ago. The biggest difference is that my experience in Centennial woods was significantly colder than last time. I headed down to my place on a windy and cold afternoon. All of the leaves were gone from the trees and it was clear that summer is far behind us. The Brook was higher than the last time I visited due to all of the rain that we’ve been getting in the past few weeks. The higher water levels appeared to have cleared most of the leaf debris out of the brook.

Here is an event map of my visit:

Summer haiku:

Blue skies, a sweet breeze

Light falls through the Yellow Birch

Silence pierced by song.

Fall haiku:

Cold air bites my cheeks

Barren branches, clear water

The yellow birch sleeps.


Prompt #2

Posted: October 23rd, 2017 by mjdrury

Hand drawn map of my Phenology Place:

I had a very pleasant trip down to my Phenology Place. I ventured down to Centennial Woods at about 5:30 in the afternoon. It was a warm fall day and the afternoon light was shining on the changing leaves making their colors even more vibrant than usual. When I reached my specific place down by Centennial Brook, I was not surprised to discover that it looked quite different from when I was there three weeks ago. The Brook was choked with fallen leaves and the Yellow Birch that I always sit under had completely was completely bare. Most of the trees in my Phenology place are coniferous and showed no change but the few hardwoods were rapidly changing. Red Oaks, Sugar Maple, and paper birch were all in various stages of losing their leaves.

I had several interactions with wildlife while I was down at the brook. I observed a chipmunk scurrying about the three Red Oaks that are right next to the brook. My hypothesis is that it lives in one of these three trees. I also spotted a toad making its way down the stream bank to the water. I have included a picture of it below.

Spending time in my Phenology Place was a lovely way to end a busy weekend. On my walk back up to campus I contemplated Frederick Law Olmsteds theory of “the healing power of nature” that we learned about in NR1. My trip down to my phenology place wholeheartedly reinstated my belief in Olmsteds principal.

Introduction To My Place

Posted: October 2nd, 2017 by mjdrury

How to get there?

My place is in the Centennial woods, a 65 acre wooded area a ten minute walk to the East of University of Vermont’s central campus. To get to my place you will need to go to the Centennial Woods trail head. The trailhead is on Catamount Drive and is very well marked. To get to my place you must follow the main trail down the hill and across the stream. On the other side of the stream, the trail forks. At the fork you will take a left and follow the trail down to the stream. After following the trail for about 40 paces you will take a left at the large Eastern White Pine that is right next to the trail. Then you will head down to Centennial Brook. My place includes the stream and a section of both the left and right stream banks.

Plant Species:

American Beech

Sugar Maple

Northern Hemlock

Delicate Fern

Northern White Oak


Link to Google Map of my Phenology place: 


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