Centinneal Water Spot

A UVM blog for NR1

February 29, 2020
by bcook


Posted 2/29/2020

Part 1: Animal

Today, I found the track of a snowshoe hare! shown below:

Figure 1: Snowshoe Hare Track (Levine & Mitchell, 2008)

Snowshoe hares are bounders (McDonald, 2020) which make their trails look like the one above. This one appears to have come down from a hill and turned toward the water. They live along the northern edge of north America (National Geographic), and change color with season, white in colder seasons and brown in warmer ones (Holland & Kaneko, 2019, p. 309). They can be nocturnal in winter, as they forage for plants to eat during the night and hibernate during the day (Holland & Kaneko, 2019, p. 357) or sit under conifer branches (Holland & Kaneko, 2019, p. 418)

During the warmer seasons, Hares will eat greens such as grasses, bu switch to twigs, bark, and buds in winter (Holland & Kaneko, 2019, p. 307). Its’ predators include “bobcats, fishers, Canadian lynx, foxes, coyotes, and great horned owls (Holland & Kaneko, 2019, p. 417)

Based on the trail of this Hare, I judged that it ha come down from hibernation to munch on the low growing foliage in the area. At night, snowshoe hares must run fast because of predators such as Barred Owls, last found in Centennial woods April 24, 2019 (“Centennial Woods Natural Area Check List”).

In terms of what it could have been coming to eat, there are small trees near the water such as Red Maple (Figure 2) , which the Hare could have been coming to eat the buds of. There is also still berries on the tree identified before as Common Winterberry (Figure 3), but the trail did not appear to go as far as that, perhaps because it followed the human trail after, which already had snow pressed down and would be easier for the hare to follow (Holland & Kaneko, 2019, p. 357)

Figure 2: young red maple where the hare was headed
Figure 3: Common Winterberry?

Part 2: Phenological Changes

The low-growing plants last seen are now not visible, likely due to the many snow storms that have happened since my last visit, and also a possible need for animals to eat them.

Last time, I did not make notes of bird chirps, but this time I did. I heard a black-capped chickadee (Barksdale, 1997) and saw signs of a woodpecker in action (figure 4).

Figure 4: Sign of woodpecker
Figure 5: My field notes


Barksdale, T. (1997, May 4). Black-capped Chickadee Sounds, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved February 29, 2020, from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-capped_Chickadee/sounds

Centennial Woods Natural Area Check List. (n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2020, from https://www.inaturalist.org/check_lists/57424-Centennial-Woods-Natural-Area-Check-List

Holland, M., & Kaneko, C. (2019). Naturally curious: a photographic field guide and month-by-month journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England. North Pomfret, Vermont.: Trafalgar Square Books.

Levine, L., & Mitchell, M. (2008). Mammal tracks and scat: life-size tracking guide. Heartwood Press.

McDonald, M. (2020, January). Winter Tracking & Subnivean EcologyWinter Tracking & Subnivean Ecology. Burlington, VT.

Snowshoe Hare. (2018, September 21). Retrieved February 29, 2020, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/s/snowshoe-hare/

January 28, 2020
by bcook


Had a good time slipping into the centennial woods today, but could barely climb my way out. Everything was covered in snow, which had been wet and compacted to form mostly ice. The spot at the river looks a little different from when I last saw it, which was Novemebr 12th of 2019.

Phenological changes: A lot more of the leaves which were around last time are decayed now. There are still some on the low growing plants, but they are very very brown. Everything is covered in snow, and it is very quiet except for the flow of the stream.

Big picture:

View of the stream
View of the dock
  1. Wildlife Activity (WA)
    • Most of what I saw were human tracks, because my spot is on an area which gets a lot of foot traffic
    • The second most popular track I found was most likely made by a dog, gray fox, red fox, gray wolf or coyote. I can infer this from the track being 8 centimeters (cm) x 8 cm at the top of the imprint, and all four of these animals have the same length and width on their tracks. It is also possible that the track is left from someone who was walking their dog. (see WA1 picture).
    • The second track measured out to 4 cm x 16 cm. I came to the conclusion that it could be a cotton tail rabbit, since they do not hibernate and have long thin hind feet. (see WA2 picture)
    • There was another track which appeared to belong to an animal that “gallops” to get around, but I could not identify it. My measurements say 8 cm x 28 cm (see WA3 picture).

2) Twigs

  • The first twig has small red buds which poke out quite a bit and comes from a gray tree that has smooth gray bark with shallow crevices traveling vertically. Using the twig guide, I found it is a red maple twig. This same plant plant was last identified as guelder-rose (See T1.1, T1.2, T1.3).
T1.1. picture of a twig from today.
T1.2 Same picture of same plant from 11/5/2019 post.
Cook, B (2019, November 5) received from https://blog.uvm.edu/bcook/2019/11/05/11-5-2019/
T1.3 the tree that appears closest is being identified.
  • The second twig has small gray buds that grow close to the twig and was growing on a browner tree with deep crevices traveling vertically. Using the twig guide, I identified it as box elder (see T2.1, T2.2).
T2.1 Box elder twig
T2.2 box elder bark
  • The third twig has mini twigs which stick out and have brown buds on the end of them. The bark, again, is gray, smooth, and shallow crevices travel horizontally across it. The twig I picked off has a red berry attached. I have had trouble identifying it. I thought it was common winterberry, but the buds are much different. (see T3.1, T3.2)
T3.1 twig
T3.2 Bark

3. Twig sketch exercise

twig parts

Works cited

Levine, Lynn. Mammal Tracks and Scat: Life-Size Pocket Guide. Heartwood Press, 2014.

Holland, Mary, and Chiho Kaneko. Naturally Curious: a Photographic Field Guide and Month-by-Month Journey through the Fields, Woods, and Marshes of New England. Trafalgar Square Books, 2019.

November 30, 2019
by bcook

Thanksgiving Post

Happy thanksgiving, and I hope you enjoy this post.

For Thanksgiving, we went to Newport, Rhode Island, which I personally came to have very mixed feelings about after putting thought into my sense of place here.

Cliff walk map

The part where we stayed, on the coast, is very low key, with old mansions scattered along it. The reason being that Newport used to be a place where very rich, probably mostly white, people lived. The houses are surrounded by trees, yards, and beaches. While I don’t know much about the area, I think it is still settled by slightly wealthier white folk. They are probably at the same socioeconomic status as the people who have settled the area where I am from. For comparison, my home town is Arlington, MA, a higher end town in the greater Boston area.

The driveway to a Mansion
Walking on the beach
Cliff walk

Not too far away is a very busy, more urban area where it’s impossible to park. It’s also full of attractions, and many people young and old mosey about.

The more urbanized spot of Newport
Crowds in Newport

One more aspect of Newport is it’s community, and connection with neighbors. Based on my very short time here, I felt as though the people in my area of Newport were genuine, and wanting to say hi when they passed. My experience is similar in Arlington, where I’ve lived my whole life, and also in Martha’s Vineyard.

Here’s my comparison to places I’ve lived: In some ways, it’s like Martha’s Vineyard, where wealthy people tend to own houses to vacate to whenever they feel like it. Houses are neighbored by other large houses, yet secluded and surrounded by quite a bit of nature, making it very quiet. A 20 minute walk toward the main harbor, and you find yourself at a small town not unlike Newport’s, but with a lot less people.

Martha’s Vineyard

However, the amount of people who come here and live here makes it also feel like Arlington. Very rarely is anyone a full-time resident in Martha’s Vineyard, but Newport certainly has year-round residents, and so does Arlington. Furthermore, the amount of people and parking issue we found in Newport’s more urban area is a characteristic of Boston and the greater Boston area

Arlington Town Day

As someone who has lived in higher end, mostly-white places my whole life, I guess I didn’t feel out of my comfort zone by coming to Newport. I’m used to being in a kind community with middle-to-high-class people, and little touristy or amusement attractions within close range. I am also used to more urban areas with close access to everything, of which Newport definitely is one.

The mansions make me uncomfortable, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I think it may be because of the fact that I’m used to living in smaller spaces; they feel to me more home-like. The bigger a place, the more weirdly sacred it seems, and not a place that I could call home, or, for that matter, imagine anyone else calling home.


Reiss, Jaclyn. “Barack and Michelle Obama Are Reportedly Buying a Martha’s Vineyard Mansion – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com, The Boston Globe, 22 Aug. 2019, www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/names/2019/08/22/barack-and-michelle-obama-are-reportedly-buying-martha-vineyard-mansion/cuoVonwx5Uxen9GAQMo1bP/story.html.

“Town Day.” Housing Corporation of Arlington, Housing Corporation of Arlington, 12 Dec. 2018, housingcorparlington.org/events/town-day-2013/.

November 12, 2019
by bcook


1:40 pm, 20 degrees Fahrenheit

Today, the centennial woods was all full of snow! The brook spot seems to be doing well though; much of the vegetation described in the last post is still existent. The low growing plants are still getting more and more brown, as they have been over the seasons. At this point there’s next to no green left, the only green left is on the plant identified before as Allegheny Blackberry. All the grass I talked about earlier is now under a couple inches of snow, so it will probably die pretty quickly.

View of the brook
View opposite the brook

Two side notes regarding vegetation: first, the plant I identified as Chinese Crab Apple probably isn’t that. Having taken a more in-depth look at the book Naturally Curious, I found the red-cherried plant is probably Highbush Cranberry. Second, I had not accounted the moss or lichen growing on the trees on the sugar maples in the area.

Sugar maple with moss and lichen growing on it. (Looks like there is a fungal growth too?)

Regarding organisms other than plant life, the fish were no longer in sight. I had, in past posts, failed to account for what could be thriving at my spot besides fish. Many insects start their larval stages in bodies of water, so I should have been more aware of that in my previous visits. Naturally Curious touches on a dragonfly called the Common Green Darner, which I may have expected to see earlier in the year because dragonflies lay their eggs in bodies of water. It would also explain the presence of fish, if there was an insect trying to use the brook to lay eggs.

The brook is important to centennial, because it provides a water source for plants to grow, and provides a habitat for a more diverse community within the woods. We’ve seen this with the presence of grass which likes high amounts of water, and fish, and the possible breeding grounds for certain insects. A more diverse living community is usually good for an all around balance of the area.

The plants, insects, and fish which live in the spot now have adapted over time to thrive as best they can given Vermont’s conditions. For example, Highbush Cranberry keeps it’s berries through the winter so that birds can get to them when they come back for the warmer seasons, and for an emergency food resource during winter (Holland). When the warmer season comes back, these same plants and other organisms will probably be there.

Today’s notes
Notes for 11/1 submission
Notes for 10/24 submission

November 5, 2019
by bcook


12:00 pm, 53 degrees Fahrenheit

As discussed before, it is important to know the spot I chose is divvied by a wooden dock trail. What I mean is, the trail people take to get through my spot is made of wooden planks. When one enters my spot from Catamount Drive, they will see that the brook flows by on the right, while the left is taken up by low growing plants and some trees scattered throughout. A rough sketch of the place can be found here:

Part 1: Vegetation

On the left

One major change recently in terms of vegetation is that all but one of the Sugar Maples on this side have lost all their leaves, which are shriveling slowly on the ground. Most of the trees which take up this area are sugar maples (Acer saccharum). I could tell the one tree with leaves left was close to losing them. Another tree in the area is called Guelder-rose (Viburnum opulus), which also still had some leaves left.

Sugar Maple

There’s a chest-high plant with fuzz on top which takes up most of the spot, called Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), is taking it’s time to change color. Like last time, a lot of the plants of this type are still green. Yet quite a few of them are changing to yellow, or completely shriveled and dead. There’s more of a spectrum from green to dead than there was last time, but a surprising amount is still green.

Canada goldenrod

Another low growing plant which is also taking it’s time changing color is a plant with wide leaves in clusters, called Allegheny blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis). The Canada goldenrod seems to be out-competing it; there’s only a few growths.

Allegheny Blackberry

On the right

From upstream to downstream as you come into my spot, you come across a tree with red berries, which may be Chinese crab apple (Malus spectabilis). Past it is another sugar maple, and then a couple more Canada goldenrods. Across the brook is a triangular peninsula, which the brook goes around. On top of the peninsula is another sugar maple, and some grass called Orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata), which appears mostly yellowed and almost dead.

Chinese Crab apple
Orchard grass


Part 2: Other notes

In the brook are little brook minnows (C. inconstans). They tend to hang out in corners of the brook where flow is minimal.

Brook minnow

Most of the miscellaneous notes I took addressed the right side, closer to the brook. Between the sugar maple and the fuzzy plants, there’s a gap with human footprints and shiny liquid, which could be gasoline. This is a disturbing observation I have made since first coming to the spot. As far as other observations about the soil, it looks exactly the same; smooth throughout except where the brook flows, which is mostly small stones. The topography hasn’t changed despite the rain.

October 24, 2019
by bcook

Intro! Thursday 10/24

A quick intro

To get to my spot, you first have to go to the bike rack on Catamount Drive, which marks the entrance to Centennial woods. About 50 feet into the woods, you’ll come to the first clearing. From that clearing, take a left. It will lead you onto a wooden bridge , and down a hill which goes to yet another clearing. From that clearing, look for more wooden planks, which should be directly in front of you. Walk that wooden path until you come to a flowing stream of water. You’ll know you’re in the right place when the river starts bending away from you as you face it, standing on the wood path.

This area is defined by the curve of the river, as described above. The last few times I went, the river had a quiet, soothing rippling sound to it, which was louder when the rain had fallen recently. If I close my eyes and focus on the sound of the flow, every other thought in my head fades away, and I feel free. The low-growing plants there also provide a very scenic view. Beyond the river bend are wires, which travel high over a cleared trail. On that clearing, there are no trees, but there are many low growing plants, just like the ones near the river.

To see the trail, look here:

Notes 10/3, 2:00 pm

Leaves have started falling in trees surrounding the area, but there is little color change for the plants by the river. There’s an orange flag at the turn of the river, which isn’t flowing too much. It’s about 40 degrees fahrenheit.

Notes 10/13, 4:00 pm

It’s about 54 degrees fahrenheit. Many more leaves have fallen from the trees than last time, and for my spot, there’s a lot more color on the plants which have bigger leaves. There’s more of a flow; it’s rained recently.

Notes 10/23, 5:30 pm

It’s about 54 degrees fahrenheit. Almost all the leaaves from surrounding trees are gone, but the plants surrounding the river remain slightly colored but not majorly changed. Again, the river has a nice flow to it. The orange flag is gone.

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