Wildlife Activity

The first sign of wildlife I encountered was a set of deer tracks in the snow. As I followed them, I noticed some broken twigs as further evidence of their activity.

I followed them backwards to see where the deer had come from, and traced them back to the brook. As it turns out, they came from the other side, and had made their way through the water to reach my site.


I also came across what I believe to be mink tracks. I had a little bit of trouble identifying them, as they seemed to go from one tree to another, leading me to believe that they were from a squirrel, however there were 5 toes instead of 4, so I ruled out the grey squirrel. By comparing the tracks with the visuals in my tracking guide, I determined that my best guess was a mink, and upon further inspection I realized that the tracks did not originate at the tree, but came from behind it, so mink made more sense.

When I returned to my phenology place for the final time, I was greeted with a new blanket of snow, higher water levels, and some fresh tracks.

Centennial woods was originally inhabited by the Abenaki tribe of Native Americans, however the City of Burlington acquired the land in late 19th century. In 1974, UVM acquired the land and set up regulations for taking care of the land now often explored by students and community members alike. There are a series of trails that wind through the diverse 700 acre area. Additionally, the meandering curves of the brook suggest that its path has not been majorly disturbed by human activity. My place is off the beaten path, and so is less disturbed by hiker traffic. However, the lack of old growth trees in the area suggests that there was disturbance at one point, likely by agriculture, especially since growing crops near a water source makes irrigation significantly easier.



“Centennial Woods Natural Area: History.” UVM Libraries Research Guides at UVM Libraries, University of Vermont, 7 Mar. 2016, researchguides.uvm.edu/centennialwoods/history.

UVM Natural Areas: A Resolution of the Board of TrusteesUVM Natural Areas: A Resolution of the Board of Trustees, UVM Board of Trustees, 1974.


My Home Phenology Spot

My Phenology Spot back in DC was in Glover Archibald Park. This map shows the location:


Pictures of the new place, taken by Renee Hovanec.


Aldo Leopold Description:

This spot is one that I often walked down to in my childhood. It is not far from the hustle and bustle of the city, yet once I descend from the street into the park, I am met with a different world entirely. A building or two occasionally poke through the trees, but they are easily forgotten as the brisk November air and the smell of damp leaves wash over me. Most of the fall color has left the trees, yet it persists in the leaves on the ground, which is speckled with infinite shades of yellows, browns, and reds. There is not generally much wildlife to encounter here. Deer will sometimes pass through, and I hear the occasional bird song, however, there is one exception. The squirrels are out and about, seeming to defy gravity as the leap from branch to branch. They scamper up, down, and across the trees, sometimes alone, but often in pairs, with one chasing the other, in what reminds me of my childhood games of tag. One began to chatter and screech when it saw me, but soon was distracted and continued about its acrobatic feats. Eventually, the squirrels moved on to a different part of the woods, and my place returned to a more serene state.

Mary Holland Comparison:

Both of my Phenology sites include water features, with extremely variable water levels. In Centennial Woods, the variability is caused by the rain, snowfall, and snowmelt. In Archibald Park there has been very little snow due to the warmer climate, but the small pond that accumulated was due to the increased rainfall. While in Centennial, the water flows over rocks, around boulders, and under branches, the water in Archibald is perfectly still. Both places are off the beaten path, and are inhabited by small rodents: chipmunks in the former, and squirrels in the latter. By this point in the year, most of the leaves have also fallen from trees in both sites, though those in Archibald Park have more recently fallen than in Centennial Woods. Take a moment to listen and the occasional bird chirps will become clear. Each site has different species of birds, but both have fewer than they’ve had in the past few months due to many migrating South for the winter. One species they have in common, though, is the Pileated Woodpecker. They are very rare in Archibald Park and the surrounding metropolitan area, but occasionally their distinctive pecking can be heard to the delight of those who know its origin.

An Awfully Damp Dry Season

When I returned on November 5, I noticed that the water level was significantly higher than it had been on previous visits. Though I’ve heard that autumn is Vermont’s dry season, it’s rained pretty frequently over the past few weeks. I also noticed that with the new water level came a change in its flow pattern. Where water used to flow freely on either side of my central rock, now there was a pool of mostly stationary water. Additionally, almost all of the deciduous trees had lost their leaves, which had fallen to the ground and painted it yellow.

Event Map

Event Map of my visit to my phenology spot on November 5, 2018.

(Drawing by Renee Hovanec)

Bird’s Eye View

When I returned I noticed that the leaves had started to change. The colors were still predominantly green, but some leaves were starting to get a yellow tint. I once again saw the chipmunk (I like to think it’s the same one), and heard a few different bird calls, though I couldn’t identify them. I also heard squirrels chattering, though I couldn’t see them either.

(Drawing by Renee Hovanec)

Lots of moss grows on the banks of the brook. The NW side (right) has somewhat dense small woody and herbaceous plant cover, with ferns growing about 2 m from the bank. The trees are mostly small and in the understory (such as Red Maple and one tree pictured at the bottom that I could not yet identify), with a few reaching the overstory (Boxelder and Ash). The SE side (left) has less dense woody and herbaceous plant cover near the banks, with more ferns farther up the slope towards the Eastern White Pine stand. This side also has less understory growth, with Basswood, Eastern White Pine, and Paper Birch making up the overstory.


(Pictures taken by Renee Hovanec)

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