I visited my phenology site with a mission. That mission was to search for the emerging spring. The largest challenge I faced was the layer of snow covering my place. Who could of guessed that it would be snowing during April? I surely could not have.
I looked for spring everywhere. No flowers in the trees were budding, no wildflowers could push past the snow, and when I went hunting for amphibians there were none to be found. There were, however, a few signs of spring trying to push through. I found some tree roots that I thought perfectly encapsulated the struggle of spring trying to get through. I decided a picture was not enough so I also sketched it.
The small bits of green are giving all they got to try and grow, however, the snow of winter still remains in the way. The conflict embodied in this picture existed throughout my place.
I decided to consider my place from a landscape ecology point of view. My place is very close to the edge of centennial woods. Far too close for any interior species to survive. There could be, however, many forest edge species. The edge effect is very prominent because of my places proximity to the edge. It’s really just 20 meters or so.
Winter may still have a strong hold on my phenology site, but spring will emerge in the coming weeks.
Over spring break I traveled back home to Greenwich, CT. I then went out searching for a new phenology place. I decided to choose the town beach, Tod’s Point. It’s a beautiful stretch of land that is surrounded by Long Island Sound. On a clear day you can look out past the water and see the New York City skyline in the distance. The site was once two islands that were used for fishing by Native Americans, specifically the Siwanoy tribe. The land had many woody trees filling the landscape. The beach was purchased in 1640 by colonists who were creating Greenwich. When it was repurchased 1884, by J. Kennedy Tod, many phenological changes occurred. The space between the two islands was filled, combining them, and a road was built around the island, fragmenting the habitat. A few buildings were also erected. Some trees were cleared for recreational spaces, but many trees remained. The trees were mostly hardwoods. Many trees still stand, but their leaves are gone for the winter. Some trees had fallen down from the wind of last weeks nor’easter.
When I walked around the beach. The sounds of birds were everywhere. It was amazing! I was hardly able to have a conversation without the chirping of a bird interrupting me. Birds love to fly around the beach. And since I went on a sunny day, the birds were all happily flying about. I found a section in the middle of the island were a few bird houses were. This seemed to be were all the birds were congregating. I did my best to capture a few birds on camera. One of which I believe to be an elusive wood pecker.
Here is a google map to show where Tod’s Point is:
I was curious to see what I could learn if I analyzed my place with BioFinder. It turns out centennial woods doesn’t have many rare or interesting species living it. I believe that that the forest existing in the middle of a city did not help many species, and since the forest is relatively new, there are only a few species living there. I did find out however, that the highest priority species are found more towards the center of the woods.
I recently returned to my phenology site with a new mission. I wanted to classify the natural community using Wetland, Woodland, Wildland. I was quickly able to see that my place is an upland forest. After looking at the native tree species (pines, oaks, and hardwoods like maples) I was able to figure out that my place is an oak-pine-northern hardwood forest. By the size of the trees I could also tell the forest is in mid to late successional vegetation. During my excursion I also noticed a number of phenological changes since my last visit. There are less stags at my place. either the wind knocked them down or someone came around to take them away. Either way my site is more spacious than before. The past week as been unusually warm for a Vermont winter. Because of this heat, all of the snow had melted! The result was a very wet and muddy soil. The most notable influence of hydrology at my site is that all the water that was kept up in snow has now penetrated the substrate. This muddy soil will likely help against erosion, and the water will eventually evaporate or be taken in by the lucky trees nearby.
Deciduous trees are harder to identify now that they’ve lost their leaves, however, identification can still be done! I found some twigs laying about at my site and I believe I know where they came from.
Here we have the twig of a white oak tree. Check out the ending of the twig, that edge is specific to oaks.
There was also a twig belonging to a red maple found in my site. I could tell it’s a red maple because of the bud at the end.
I then drew a sketch of this twig and labeled the parts I recognized .
I noticed that there were not many deciduous tree twigs lying around my site. I soon realized it was because a lot of the litter on the ground was needles or twigs from Eastern White Pines. Conifers are far more dominant at my site.
Now that the ground is covered in a fresh layer of snow, it is far easier to see the tracks that animals leave behind. The wildlife activity is more obvious than ever before! I immediately saw bird tracks when I arrived at my phenology site. If I was a bird I’d fly every where but this little guy must of had other ideas.
I was also able to find tracks for deer. I find it amazing how such a large creature walked right through my phenology site, and only left a few clues for me to find.
There was also a rabbit hanging out in my site last night. I know this not just from tracks everywhere, but I also found some scat!
It is a new year, and with that new year comes a cold winter. My phenology site is right in the thick of winter right now. It’s not hard to tell because there is snow everywhere. The entire ground is covered, no grass or dirt showing at all. The deciduous trees have all lost their leaves, and are left naked in the cold. However, my site has an overwhelming amount of conifers, specifically Eastern White Pines, so there is still the green from needles when you look up.
My place in Centennial Woods may be a natural area, but humans have influenced its history in many ways. Since my place is on the path of a park, people walk by all the time. Grass does not grow on the ground, instead there is simply dirt. It is unlikely that a grass could grow because people walk through my place all the time. Also, humans have developed the area surrounding my place. There is a University write up the hill, and a residential area adjacent to my place. This has turned a once forest habitat into a patch of a forest habitat. The proximity of the edge from my place is fairly close. This effects the types of species that live in my place. Some birds only live in the center of forest habitats, because the edge of a fragmentation is not a suitable home. In this way, humans have indirectly affected the species that live in my place.
My place in Burlington is bustling with life. A bird built a nest for its babies to be grow up in. It was constructed on a tall branch of an eastern white pine. Interesting that both places have coniferous trees. My new site also contains a few evergreens, most common are eastern hemlocks. If there is a birds nest in my new site, it will soon be uncovered as well as more and more leaves fall to the ground. Both places are similar forests because both are in the northeast, my new place being a little farther south. The biggest difference between the two places is the giant lake that defines my new place. My original place had a stream near by but no actual body of water was at the site. In my new site, a lake is so big and so strong, it makes it harder to notice anything else. Fish swim around under the still surface, calling this lake their home. Ducks rest their wings on the surface of the water. All life seems to be drawn to the lake, it is the center of a tiny ecosystem. My place back in Burlington lacked a large water source, and seemed more quiet. There is way more life easily noticeable by the lake.
I walk down the old dirt path leading to my new place. As I turn around the corner I can see the sunlight reflecting off the surface of the lake. The brightness blinds the eastern hemlocks surrounding the lake. Those trees stand taller than the rest, commanding the scene. Upon father investigation, there are ducks swimming through the lake. They are the only disturbance on an otherwise still body of water. It is almost as though the surface was remaining still just for the ducks to enjoy. One duck starts to swim away from the pack, for reasons unknown to me. The rest of the ducks follow suit. I realize that these ducks are a family, were one goes so do the rest. They exist in perfect harmony with each other, the sky, and this lake. Luckily for them, this was the perfect day. Such a small amount of wind and a perfect temperature, the day was made for this family of ducks. The sun begins to set and a beautiful set of colors are unleashed onto the lake. It truly is amazing how nature connects everything together in such a peaceful way. And somehow, with all of these different moving parts of the scene, an unbelievable stillness and quietness remains in tact.