Archive for April, 2018

“Unfolding” of Spring

Sadly, the unfolding of spring in my plot is not quite here yet. The slush and snow and freezing temperatures have returned to Burlington, and the false spring ended without blooming fully. Spring, while it tasted good for a second, has disappeared from my 20 meter spot in Centennial Woods. Any flowers poking through the leaf litter are hidden from view by a layer of slush as the snow melts again, as is the leaf litter itself. The sugar maple’s buds are almost all gone from the last time I saw them a month ago, since the frost had frozen them many nights in a row. The only green really visible on the ground of my plot is soaking wet moss peeking through the snow at the base of the trees.

Landscape Ecology Perspective:

The nearest edge to my plot is located about 40 meters downhill from it, as you near the stream in Centennial. The edge effect is the change in habitat and therefore species within the habitats. The plants near the stream are smaller brambles and bushes rather than tall trees, and the soil becomes more sandy and less leaf litter. There are no interior species located in my plot, as it is too close to that edge and the edge of the wilderness area altogether.

Anthropogenic Influences

If anthropogenic influences creeped deeper into Centennial Woods, my plot might look like this sketch. A paved sidewalk cuts through it make the “wilderness” more accessible for handicapped and less able bodied members of the community. Grass is grown to make the park more visually pleasing, most likely with fertilizers to aid its growth. The stream is slightly polluted and redirected to cut through my plot. Small pieces of trash are scattered, although cleaned up occasionally by volunteer groups. Only one of the previous three large trees remain, as the rest were taken down to open up the area. Human influences and intrusion can ruin a beautiful wilderness.

Spring Observations

Entering Centennial Woods in the first breath of Vermont’s spring was a refreshing change to the constant snow. It had been melted for a few days and the pine needles, hidden for so long by a thick layer of snow then slush, was soggy under my boots. In my plot, I saw a squirrel darting behind a tree, tempting out of his home by the warm weather. The moss was green around the base of the pines and sugar maple, and small buds were peeping out of the maple. I knew they would not survive the next frost, but the hints of new green life were exciting.

Winter Observations

In the winter in my phenology spot in Centennial Woods, the ground is covered in fresh, thick snow. At the sound of my footsteps approaching, a winter wren chirps from the top of a small sugar maple and flies away. The sun reflecting off of the snow is bright but hardly warms the brisk air. There are little to no signs of other animals in the 20m diameter plot, but I know there must be a squirrel or two hidden away in the trees for the season. In the winter, under the clean snow and opened up by the lack of leaves, Centennial is pristine and holds a promise of new growth in the spring.

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