Phenology in Middlesex, NJ at the River

Location: GreenBrook River Shoreline

Date: November 18th, 2018

Weather: Cloudy, Cold, 26 degrees

GreenBrook River Spot:

For Thanksgiving break, I chose a spot in the woods by the Greenbrook river that flows through my town in New Jersey. I chose this spot because it is very close to my house and is one of the few natural areas around where I live. Because I live in the suburbs of New Jersey, there are not that many nature preserves or nice parks that close to me , but I felt like this spot was good because it was right near me and was situated near this river. I noticed that the soil was very dark in this area and was mostly very wet with the melting snow and rain. I looked up the bedrock in this area and they said it was mostly shale, sandstone, and clay. Despite the fact that they said the soil in this area would be very sandy, I found that this soil had a lot more clay in it, and my area in Burlington had a lot more sand. Also, I noticed that all the trees in this area had completely lost all their leaves and that there were no evergreen trees around at all. I believe that the main tree species around here are Red Maple and Hazel Adler. I did notice that there was one small woody shrub that was growing around the river area and that it was still green and had some berries on it. In addition, I could see a lot of deer prints in the mud, which showed that they were a main animal species in this part.



   Red Berries on Woody Shrub 

Comparing Landscapes:

My phenology spot in Burlington is drastically different than my spot here in New Jersey. I tried to pick a spot on the water so it would be more similar, but the similarities basically end there. Since my spot in Burlington is near the shoreline, the soil is mostly sandy and fine, but here the soil is very clay-based and thick. Also, the soil in Burlington is very well-drained and even after a rainfall is not very wet, however near the river in New Jersey, the soil was extremely wet and was very thick and muddy. I had to be very careful not to fall in while scouting the area. Although this was negative for me, it was positive because I could observe all the animal prints left in this mud. I saw some small prints, most likely squirrels and I saw a lot of large deer prints because they are so common around this area. In Burlington near my shorefront area, I see a lot of birds and find evidence of small animals like raccoon, but I have never seen any larger animals like deer in that area. Also, I felt like my phenology spot by the river was a lot more brown and less colorful, but I can attribute that to the fact that the black willow shrubs are still green and grow everywhere in my shoreline spot, but here almost everything has died off at this point. I really enjoyed looking at these different spots and seeing how different my hometown is compared to Burlington. Although both are beautiful and different, I do feel my sense of place is stronger closer to my home.

       The Soil and Stream                               Deer Tracks in the deep mud


GreenBrook River Phenology spot:

Drastic Changes Down by the Shoreline

Event map:

While down at the waterfront this week, I noticed some very drastic changes to the landscape in my area. Because of all the rain this week, the lake’s water levels rose a lot and it caused the area to look very different. The place where I observed the sandpipers last week was completely covered with water and much of the small Black Willow woody shrubs were also totally or completely under water. In addition, I observed the there were a few new small streams leading from the tree area out into the lake, which was not there two weeks before.


Outside of water levels, I also noticed that the dominant tree species, Eastern Cottonwood, has lost all of its leaves and the small shrubs, possibly bittersweet, near the edge of my site have yellow berries that have just begun to turn red. Despite it being so late in the season, many of the smaller shrubs have remained green. I wonder if this is because they remain green and remain alive all season or maybe they will begin turning or dying off very soon.

The last few weeks at my site have been very similar, but this week, the area has had many drastic changes having to do with the water levels and the leaf changes and I am excited to see how much it will change once the temperature begins to drop more and we get deeper into the seasons.