February at the Redstone woods

Posted in Uncategorized on February 29, 2020 by arose

February is one of the toughest times for wildlife in Vermont, it is a test of how well you prepared all year. One animal that spends most of their time preparing for winter is the Gray Squirrel. The Redstone woods are filled with these little critters. This is evident through their abundant tracks.

Squirrel tracks can often be found at the bases of trees. Even though squirrel tracks look very similar to many other small rodents, finding the tracks at the base of a tree is always a dead give away that it is a squirrel.

During winter time, gray squirrels build nests in tree limbs or in holes that have been hollowed out in the tree’s trunk. They spend most of their time in spring, summer, and fall preparing for winter by caching nuts and seeds that they collect. These caches act as their food supply for the cold winter months when food is less abundant. During the day gray squirrels search for their caches and bring them back to their nests for themselves and their young. During the nighttime, gray squirrels take refuge in their nests to avoid being eaten by predators. They have a long list of predators but the most common predator is probably foxes. Gray squirrels rely on trees to keep them off of the forest floor, which is where many of their predators live.

The holes in this Red Oak tree would be a great location for squirrels to build a small nest for their young.

Another possibly less obvious example of a predator are dogs, which can be found regularly on walks with their owners in the Redstone woods. Dogs love to chase down and kill squirrels when they get the chance to, this is an example of why it is important that squirrels have nests that are off of the ground.

In terms of phenological changes in Redstone woods, there are not too many to share. The only change that stood out to me was that there were far fewer tracks overall. This is probably due to the fact that winter is in full swing here in Vermont and that everything that wants to see spring needs to conserve its energy to survive until April.

Field notes from 2/29/20

Redstone Forest

Posted in Uncategorized on January 31, 2020 by arose

Salmon Hole in Winooski was my blog spot last semester. The fishing season is closed in Vermont and I can’t always make the commute to go and visit. With all of these factors I’ve decided to change my Phenology site a place a little closer to home. I can literally walk out of my dorm about 200ft and be in a small forest.The Redstone woods is home to Red Oak, Sweet Birch, Sugar Maple (young ones at that), Dogwood, Buckthorn, American Beech and much more. From what I saw in terms of tracks as well, the woods are home to Gray Squirrels and heavily trafficked with people walking their dogs. Otherwise this is a popular spot for students to hang out outside at any time of year.

Buckthorn twig
Red Oak tree
A fresh dog track. Newly made in the thin layer of ice on top of the snow.
Degraded old dog tracks. Frozen and melted. Made in fresh snow then frozen over because dog stepped all the way through to the ground underneath.
American Been twig diagram
Map of the Redstone Woods
Field notes from 1/30/20

Sense of Place, Sheffield Massachusetts

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2019 by arose

My parents are beginning to close in on their retirement. For the both of them, it was important that they left the chaos and ambition of the greater New York City area (Fairfield County CT is where I am originally from) for something more laid back. Their decided escape destination was the Berkshire Mountains in southwestern Massachusetts. So, about two years ago, my parents bought a house in Sheffield Massachusetts, which has a population of about 3,000 people.

When my parents first bought the house, I was fairly indifferent. I played mostly team sports, and moving to a more rural area meant less resources for things like team sports. I was reassured and reminded of the fact that we would be living directly opposite to a ski resort where I could snowboard 80 days a winter. With a little bit of time and a few changes within myself, I have come to love Sheffield. I stopped playing team sports and picked up more solo endeavors like climbing, fishing, snowboarding, cycling and hiking. Our house backs up to 1500 acres of nature preserve which is such a blessing. We have everything from deer, to black bears, to fisher cats, and being a wildlife biology major this is a delight.

The house also has some of the best bouldering in North America in its back yard. Locally this is well known but is kept quiet because most of the boulders are on private property. I just so happen to be fortunate enough to have some of those boulders in my backyard. This has made me develop into a strong and well equipped climber and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. The house is also close to some great fly fishing spots. The Housatonic River runs nearby and there are many ponds within walking distance.

To put it simply, this place is an outdoors mans paradise. It has connected me to the topography, geology, and hydrology of this place in a way that I have never had before. It is shaping me into a well rounded outdoorsman and is a great place to practice the skills that I may use in my future, larger endeavors. I have never felt so at home anywhere in my life.

Besides all of the natural aspects of this place, it is a place where all of my family can gather and rest our minds and bodies. I can have large groups of friends come and stay for ski and snowboard trips, without the stresses of Fairfield County. Sheffield has truly become a special place to me and this connection will only get deeper as I spend more time here. I also plan to start bow hunting next year, and I hope that that will connect me to this land in a completely new way. I am extremely grateful for everything that this place has given me and will hopefully given me in the future.

Sense of place at Salmon Hole

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2019 by arose

One’s sense of place is forever growing and changing. This is evident in the phenological changes of Salmon Hole. At this point, most of the leaves remain attached to their trees but are dead. It is a reminder that change is the only constant, and even beautiful great things like the fall foliage at Salmon Hole come to an end. This change is allowing me to witness the seasons change in Vermont, which is the first time I have gotten to see this. Watching this change has made me feel more deeply connected to this place. In larger terms, watching Vermont make this transition and even having the first snowfall of the year has made me feel like a real Vermonter. I am beginning to feel less like a visitor or a tourist and more like a part of this great state. In terms of history, it is interesting to think about what this river would have looked like before the installation of the dam. The water level above the dam is significantly higher than that of the water level below the dam, yet there are developments along the banks above the dam. What would all of that look like if the dam was gone or before the dam was installed? It is also an important thing to note that the form that the river takes can have a large effect on what plant life will grow along its banks. The forest surrounding the river is still relatively young, so this makes me wonder if the river had drastically changed its course in recent history. This has an effect on my sense of place in Vermont because it is a reminder that things can change quickly on different scales from personal to ecological. My time at Salmon Hole has made me feel a deeper sense of place here in Vermont.

Field Notes 11/2/19

Recently, Salmon Hole has undergone some drastic changes. With the recent rain event that caused the Winooski to flood, much of the plant life that called the rocky river bed home is now no longer visible. The river is still at about 25,000 CFS. It is safe to say that many of these plants have been washed away. The river is completely covering the dolostone slabs that allow you to walk out into the river at this point. Leaves remain on trees but are mostly dead.

Mapping and Charismatic Species

Posted in Uncategorized on November 4, 2019 by arose
There are a few species that stood out to me at Salmon Hole. These species include salmon, buckthorn, dogwood, sumac, glossy privet and mushrooms. I’ve discovered that an app called picture this is very useful in helping identify plant species. All you have to do is take a picture of the plant and it identifies it for you. This made identifying the species at Salmon Hole a much more enjoyable process. First, I chose Salmon (or in this case, a dead Salmon’s skin) because we are at the tail end of the Winooski Salmon run that happens every year. I fly fish and spent a lot of time casting in the hopes of catching a Salmon. As far as plant species go, I chose the species that stood out to me as the most unique. For example the Red Osier Dogwood’s berries are a stark white that are contrasted again red twigs and leaves. I frankly just thought that it was a beautiful plant. This applies to all of the plant species I chose, most of the leaves have fallen to the ground at this point, so many of the species I chose have berries that remain on the plants. The soils at Salmon Hole are very shallow and rocky, so all of the species that are present have to be able to do well in disturbed soils. Lastly, I visited Salmon Hole the night after some light rain, so the trails down to the water were dotted with mushrooms. Mapping this place reminded me of just how close it is to very developed areas, and how lucky we are to have such a beautiful place in a developed suburban sprawl.
Glossy Privet at Salmon Hole
Red Osier Dogwood at Salmon Hole
Alder Buckthorn at Salmon Hole
Staghorn Sumac at Salmon Hole
One of the mushrooms that I encountered on the trails at Salmon Hole
Yours truly casting at Salmon Hole

The Character of Salmon Hole

Posted in Uncategorized on October 24, 2019 by arose

The Salmon Hole is a dichotomous place, it is a beautiful nature area situated within eye shot of Winooski’s main stretch. This makes this place unique. Right now, there is a small salmon run going up the Winooski river, this is what has given this place its name “Salmon Hole”. Geologically, Salmon Hole is also quite unique, it has exposed slabs of dolomite bedrock, contrasted by large limestone cliffs that show years and years of erosion, sedimentation and the history of this place. The fluvial geomorphology of Salmon Hole can tell us a lot about the species that inhabit it as well as its history. Salmon hole has fast moving rapids, deep pools, shallow pools, as well as deep fast moving currents. Salmon use the fast moving rapids to direct themselves up stream to where they spawn, bass and perch live in the deep pools and come to the shallows to spawn, and trout “hold” in the deep currents during the winter and “hold” in shallower currents during warmer months. It is frankly so cool to me that something as simple as a river carving bedrock over time can create habitats that are suitable for so many different species. Another interesting thing about Salmon Hole is the Salmon lift. It is another example of how closely nature and humanity are related. The salmon that live in the Winooski River spawn further upstream than Salmon Hole but, there is a dam in the way. To combat this, Vermont Fish and Wildlife installed a fish lift. It puts out a current that forces the fish to jump into a basket. Once a day, a ranger comes by and records the lengths and species of the fish in the basket, then raises the lift and moves them upstream. This is a great example of how humans can fix a problem that they have created.

Field notes from 10.24.19 2:30pm

-River is at 2800 CFS (Not observed but important to not when fly fishing)

-little to no bird species present

-light rain and wind, 60 degrees fahrenheit

-water is clear to tea colored

-fall foliage is in full bloom

Field notes from 10.10.19 3:30pm

-River is at 1800 CFS

-62 degrees fahrenheit

-raptors, gulls, and waterfowl are present

Hello world!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2019 by arose

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