Phenology at Duke Estates

When I was home for spring break, I went to a wetland conservation area called Duke Farms that used to be a privately owned estate and is now transformed into a conserved natural area. The natural history of this place is that it was originally a great estate for the Duke family, but once the owner passed, she decided to leave the land to be a wilderness area for the natural species residing here. While I was there, I noticed that there were a lot of Northern Red Oaks and Red Maples in this area which are two common species in my phenology area in Centennial Woods, however, the most common tree species in the estate was large Sycamore trees. Even though I noticed a lot of common tree species between the two areas, my place in Burlington has a lot more pine trees than the Duke estates.

When I was at my phenology spot last time, I heard what I believed to be a thrush but other than that there was no evidence of any bird life. However, at the Duke farms there was a lot of bird life, as well as some squirrels and field mice. I saw robins, bluejays, and even a red headed woodpecker that was carving a hole into a snag. I also saw a group of wild turkeys in the woods and ducks pairing up with a mate in the lake. There was a lot more wildlife here than in Centennial Woods, which is probably because it is becoming spring a lot earlier here. Hopefully, spring will come to Centennial Woods as well and there will be a lot more birds and animals present next time.

Woodland Community in Centennial Woods

Centennial Woods Site

A. According to Wetlands, Woodlands, and Wildlands, my area is a woodland area in the Champlain Valley. A woodland area is a forested area that provides habitat for numerous species of plants and animals alike. The soils of the Champlain Valley are usually either clay or sandy-soiled and the region doesn’t get as much precipitation as the rest of the state, which is why it is a great habitat for a wide variety of different animals and plant species. Despite the deforestation of this area, which led to changes in this natural community, we still see lots of species that are typically native to this area such as silver maple, red maple, white oak, beech, and hemlock. All of these tree species and more are present in my area of Centennial Woods. I think that this area can be best expressed as a “Silver Maple-Ostrich Fern Forest” which is listed as one of the common natural communities in this area of Vermont. Because of the abundance of Silver Maples in this area, I would definitely classify it as a Silver Maple forest because of, despite the many different kinds of trees in this area, including a lot of pines.

A woodland area is also a diverse community for animals, and I have seen evidence of many different species at my sight . While I was at my spot, I noticed a trail of red fox tracks on the frozen part of the stream that runs through my spot, in addition to the hare and deer tracks that I saw last time I visited. I also heard a lot of bird calls, whereas last time, it was very silent at my spot.

B. I think that my spot was much more lively this time because it is now March and is becoming spring soon, and the birds are aware of this. Last time I visited, it was very cold and there were not animals around or birds out at all but this time I could hear the calls of several warblers, I believe. This is one phenological change that I noticed at my spot this weekend and I know that as the snow coverage continues to grow thinner, there will be a lot of significant changes to this landscape. In addition, I noticed that the small stream running through the area was frozen solid last time, however, now the ice is very thin and it is beginning to thaw in many areas. With the amount of precipitation and snow melt, there will probably be a lot of sediment runoff as we enter more into spring and the outside world begins to thaw. Because I did not visit this spot in the fall, I am not sure now it changed when Winter began, however, I am eager to see how this woodland area will evolve as it begins to warm up.