April Update


It’s a cold, wet spring afternoon and I find myself back in Centennial Woods. Recent precipitation has turned the trails to a brown muck, and I can hear the stream at my site well before I see it. When I reach it, I find the generally calm stream with its highest water levels I’ve seen and a fast current. In search of signs of amphibians, I look to the ground to find it still covered in a frozen snow layer. After turning over many rocks and branches in hopes of revealing a frog or other amphibious life, I was left without any signs of these creatures. I believe the recent snow and cold weather has them extending their dormancy until the weather warms. As I stood in my winter coat, I was determined to find evidence of phenological spring, so I began searching for tree flowering with no luck. Turning to the ground cover, I found no signs of Vermont’s beautiful wildflowers emerging from the mix of snow and mud that coated the floor. While plant life showed no signs of spring, the chorus of birds chirping was a continuous sound that filled the woods throughout my visit. This distinct sound, along with a blue jay that swooped across my site, told me that spring is near.

My location features two landscape edges. The first, a small trail that cuts through the woods, lacks the effects of most edges. As a trail though, this edge brings in noise pollution from the many people who travel on it each day, which can deter animals from residing around the area. The larger edge of my location is the road that surrounds Centennial Woods. This edge puts many limits on the organisms in the area. Crossing the roads is difficult for most animals that live in these woods, and with a lack of wildlife corridors connecting the woods to other natural areas, most organisms are restricted to the boundaries of the woods. This area also prevents the large animals of Vermont, like moose and fisher, from inhabiting the area. Invasive plants such as honeysuckle and barberry thrive on these edges due to the increased sunlight. These plants have found their way into almost every corner of the woods. With my location being close to the road edge of Centennial Woods, I do not think my location provides habitat for forest interior species. Some consider salamanders a forest interior species, which could certainly live in the damp ground of my location, under the many rocks and branches.

With only a month left at my location, it feels as though winter continues to drag on. A few signs of spring are present though, and hopefully the final update will feature the many joys of spring. Stay tuned!

An overview of the site, 4/16/18

The stream that defines my site swelled from recent snow and rain events.

This trail near my site acts as a small edge.

A sketch of a blue jay I spotted at my site.

Other than the moss growing on tree branches, there were few signs of spring plant life.

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