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Will Vanderlan Phenology Blog

Spring Break In Ithaca

Posted: March 17th, 2019 by wvanderl

Over my spring break I returned home to Ithaca NY, my home town. Full disclosure, towards the beginning of the week I was not very excited to get out into a natural area. I returned home to cold temperatures, and wet, muddy, rainy weather. Yet when I woke up at the crack of 2:30pm on Thursday, I was amazed to step outside and feel a gentle spring breeze accompanied by rejuvenating rays of sunshine. Overnight it had warmed up to 60F and I immediately went on a stroll to one of my favorite natural areas.

Directly below Cayuga lake is Stewart Park, a boring combination of fields, swings, and goose droppings. Although just west of the park is a very pleasant trail, surrounded running along the inlet, by a beautiful area full of woodpeckers and willow trees. I decided that I would walk this trail hoping to find a nice spot to complete this assignment. On my walk, I ran into mostly squirrels, and one very rude looking skunk which I promptly avoided. About halfway along the inlet, a few hundred yards from the park I found a more open, and dry area to stay in for a while. During my time there I could immediately see a contrast between this site and my phenology site in Burlington. The willow trees stood tall and proud, surrounded by various plants including honeysuckle, and what I believe to be flowering buckthorn. I think this pretty accurately shows a difference in my sites; as my Burlington spot, redstone pines simply contains some eastern white pines, which stand alone, scarred by hammock straps, and shamefully surrounded by peoples trash. This is a due to the differing histories of these areas. The trail in Ithaca simply cuts through this natural area, which is right next to water, and leads towards a park. On the other hand, it is clear that the redstone pines are simply placed in the middle of a bunch of buildings, impermeable surfaces, and are victim to much unwanted foot traffic.

I will definitely be returning to this spot over summer, as it was a relaxing and almost surreal experience. On a nice summer evening this walk could be a great way to really see that we are only here as guests on earth, and there is still faith that we can be somewhat gracious to the natural world during our stay.

Phenology post 3/8/19

Posted: March 8th, 2019 by wvanderl

Upon visiting my site once more, I have started to analyze the ground on the edges of the Redstone Pines. As more and more snow melts, or rain falls, it has become abundantly noticeable that the pines are surrounded by impermeable surfaces. Around the paths and streets the ground is oversaturated with gross water and the grass is starting to die in many spots. Using the wetland, woodland, wildland framework was not much help as I have come to realize this area is simply not very natural at all. I think if efforts were made to strengthen the barriers or increase the permeability between the concrete paths and the redstone pines, overtime the area would be able to grow into a healthier community. However, it is also very small, so finding a way to connect it to any surrounding natural area would also be crucial. Over the past few weeks, I have noticed some changes in the wildlife in the area. while all the birds appeared to have left, the past few days I have been able to admire a woodpecker working away at the same tree. In addition, I have noticed fewer and fewer animal tracks in the snow, This may be due to a decrease in activity as winter goes on longer and longer, or it could be due to the constant water being carried across the area causing inconsistent ground snow coverage.

First Post Semester 2!

Posted: February 4th, 2019 by wvanderl

During my first time returning to my site I immediately noticed a few key changes, the ground was largely covered in slush and water except for a few areas still layered with snow. The areas of snow revealed quite the realization for me, there are actually animals using the Redstone Pines!! There were quite a few rabbit tracks, and while their movement was very sporadic and confusing, I could tell the rabbit was galloping from place to place showing no sense of urgency, then creating these big holes in the snow, possibly looking for food. In addition, I noticed that there were dog tracks, as the prints showed no sign of intent, and walked around with no real intent.  

Final Semester 1 Blog Post

Posted: December 8th, 2018 by wvanderl

Throughout my time observing my phenology site I have become surprisingly disappointed with our use of the land here around UVM. When I chose my site I thought it was beautiful, and felt refreshingly natural and healthy in contrast to the largely developed area around campus. However, I have begun to see my site as a testament to the facade of a natural world with healthy ecosystems that has become so prevalent in the area. When the glacial retreat occurred approximately 10,000 years ago it paved way for a beautiful landscape of green mountains and left a beautiful lake. However, development began to erase this beauty, and with peak land clearance about 150 years ago much of this natural green world in the Vermont region was lost. Ecosystems were divided, split, and destroyed. I think that my site is a great example of this and now serves as a reminder to me that the natural world has been marginalized and set aside. The trees are healthy, and beautiful, but they stand alone, between two roads and a parking lot. There is very little wildlife in the area, because it it separated from most other natural sites on campus. At first I thought it was my fault, but Ive spent hours and hours there, seeing only a couple squirrels, and a very disappointed looking rabbit which I can certainly relate to.  On the other side, I do believe that my better understanding of this area, however disappointing it may be, is a testament to the fact that Ive actually learned something in nr001, and have become more aware of the world around me.

Thanksgiving Break Post!

Posted: November 26th, 2018 by wvanderl

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/F7YZWrVjuEz

My hometown of Ithaca NY is similar to Burlington VT in many ways, subarus everywhere, vegan sugar… Of course it’s also similar politically, socioeconomically, hell… downtown Burlington was even planned by the same person that designed the ithaca Commons! However, my phenology locations are very different. For my phenology location in Ithaca, I decided on a small island like patch of woods inside of Cascadilla gorge, as it had an interesting soil and surficial geology, as well as being super pretty and undisturbed. The patch of trees is located on a slab of shale that has remained structurally sound, unlike the surrounding rock that had been weathered away by the water in the creek. In terms of plant life the site is composed of small ferns and two striped maples, that have roots working below a crack in the shale, suggesting there could be more soil below the layer of shale. Maybe?On the other hand, my location here in Burlington has a simple soil composition, and is not isolated or undisturbed. It is clear that my Burlington site has seen little weathering, and is able to support a forest with both maple trees and evergreens, while my Ithaca location is geologically messy, due to the weak nature of shale, and the intense water erosion occurring in Cascadilla gorge.

Pls enjoy a nice macro shot I took of one of the ferns at my site. My hands were very cold twas not a good time…

Some Leaves!

Posted: November 13th, 2018 by wvanderl

Look! Lovely, lustrous, local, lost leaves…. Later!

Event Map

Posted: November 6th, 2018 by wvanderl

Unfortunately I have been sick and stuck in bed with a fever the past week or so…  However after a super fun visit at the health center I felt well enough to make it out to my site again for a nice while so heres what I experienced… Enjoy! 


Map and Site Update

Posted: October 22nd, 2018 by wvanderl

Over the past few weeks my phenology location has experienced a visible change in terms of canopy cover. The leaves have begun to fall off of many of the trees as it is getting cooler fast.

In terms of wildlife, I have seen a couple squirrels around the site, interacting with the trees. In addition, I have spotted some smaller birds located in the upper branches of the trees.

Attached is my hand drawn map… enjoy!

Introduction to my Phenology blog!

Posted: October 12th, 2018 by wvanderl

For my phenology location I have selected the Redstone Pines Area… To find this beautiful spot just head over to Redstone Hall and look across the street, it wont be hard to spot. I chose this area as it is peaceful, and has an interesting composition of larger trees and small brush that will be interesting to analyze alongside the wildlife in the area. Redstone Pines is mostly composed of grass and trees, however there are patches of small woody plants and saplings scattered below the tree cover…

The trees within my phenology site include…

Sugar maple, Norway maple, and Eastern white pine.

The smaller woody plants include…

Sugar/Norway maple saplings, and boxelder.



Hello world!

Posted: October 12th, 2018 by wvanderl

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