Observation Eight

March 17, 2019

Weather: Partly Cloudy, no wind

Time: 14:55

Temp: 33 F

This week I returned to my home phenology observation spot –– a short walk from my house to my childhood playground in nature. As a kid I spent hours in this location exploring the woods and swamp, only to return home covered in mud and pine pitch. Back then everything seemed much larger. The distance from the house was a hike and the trees towered overhead. Now, I see that the pond is really a seasonal swamp. Today, I walked down the ice crusted path to the small clearing by the swamp wishing that I visited on the 60 degree day earlier in the week. The temperatures dropped, and after the recent rain the snow is iced over, making it difficult to observe any fresh animal tracks. In the past I’ve found deer tracks and other small mammal tracks dancing on the snow, but not today. Today, the faint imprints look like scratches beneath the snow.

My observation shifted to the sky as the sounds of spring performed above. I was lucky enough to spot several species of birds as the sunny blue skies warmed the area.  Chickadees and a Red Winged Blackbird played in the trees as they searched for food. The Red Winged Blackbird is my all time favorite species. Since I was a little kid I’ve loved the special song they make, sometimes (thanks to technology) I even listen to their sounds before I go to sleep.

The tree species in my home observation spot differ from my Burlington location. Here, Beach, Birch, and Pine tower overhead, while Tamarack skirt the swamp. The background is grey and I miss the flaming color of fall. The buds are soon to arrive and the swamp will turn from barren and dull to vibrant shades of green. The Tamarack trees grow well in the area due to the wet soil conditions surrounding the swamp. The Tamarack are unique to this location and I did not notice any in my Winooski River site. Additionally, I’ve observed the Tamarack on my travels up Route 7 in the valley between the Taconic and Green Mountains in the swampy area along the Otter Creek in Danby.

The swamp is frozen with leaves in the layers of ice. As the ice melts and the soil and air temperatures warm the peepers will start singing. Some spring nights, it is like a rock concert as the peeper’s song rises up the hill. During this observation I found myself anticipating –– anticipating the changes to the landscape, the rebirth, the cycle continuing. The presence of the birds, the decrease in snow pack and the warm air are all signs that spring is upon us.

Lastly, during my time at my observation spot, I thought about the past and how this land was used throughout history. Not far from this location you see the old stone walls that defined farmland and pasture. The sounds of the Bourne Brook are muffled in the distance. This flowing water served the timber and mill industry. Several mills dotted this land and the lumber was floated down to Manchester Depot and loaded on trains to serve the cities of New England. (maybe find a historical photo from Manchester Historical society — from East Manchester or Borne brook Mill.