April, Transformation (Extra Credit)

Currently I am writing this blog post as I sit outside my house in the sun. Although I have been quarantined to my household, I am still trying to enjoy nature as much as possible. Over the past two weeks it has been raining non stop in my hometown of Poughkeepsie New York. Although this rain makes me less motivated to go outside, I know many amphibians are beginning to make the trek to their breeding grounds. Although I haven’t been able to see any amphibians migrating, two types of amphibians that migrate in New York are the mole salamander and the wood frog (“Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossing”). These amphibians usually breed in woodland pools which are located in forests. However, forest land is usually divided by roads, causing the amphibians to have to journey across roads with the risk of being run over. 

Since the temperature has been in the high 50’s low 60’s some flowers are beginning to blossom in my neighborhood. Also the trees around my house are beginning to grow buds. Although this is a sign that leaves will soon grow, my allergies have been driving me crazy with all the pollen floating around in the air. Despite spring time bringing some happiness in my life, I have noticed that our ash tree in our front yard is shedding its bark very rapidly. This made me concerned so I decided to do some research. Although I am not an expert on trees, I have come to the conclusion that our ash tree is infested by the ash borer. Common signs of this beetle infestation are yellowing of the leaves on the tree and the tree losing its bark (Matsoukis, 2020). I’m very sad that this ash tree had to fall victim to these harmful beetles. My family has made the decision to have the tree removed before it falls just for safety concerns. 

As the semester comes to an end, I’ve realized how much I learned about the Earth this semester in NR001 and NR002. Before I wouldn’t have been able to identify the tree in my front yard or take note on how the seasons change and why. I’m very thankful for the little time I was able to spend at UVM. If you are reading this blog post, I wish you the best and stay safe.


Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2020, from https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/51925.html

Matsoukis. (n.d.). Emerald Ash Borer Information Network. Retrieved April 30, 2020, from http://www.emeraldashborer.info/

Extra Credit March Post

I never expected to be home for my spring semester of college. This change was something I wasn’t really ready for. I feel as if my mind and body were not prepared to come home to Poughkeepsie, New York. My new phenology spot for the time being is my front yard, due to restrictions from COVID-19, we are being advised to stay inside and limit our contact with other human beings as much as possible. 

Since leaving UVM, I’ve realized that the weather here in Poughkeepsie is quite different than Burlington. I came home prepared to wear a winter jacket constantly, but Mother Nature had different plans. Last week the weather was very nice. The sun was shining for most of the week and the temperature was in the high 60’s. I noticed how the grass is no longer an ugly brown color, but it is beginning to turn a bright green again. Since being home I’ve had the opportunity to watch the sunrise in the morning. I’ve been taking note of the birds singing their songs early in the morning. I even got to experience two cardinals continually flying into our front windows of our living room. I did some research about this and found that the bird sees their reflection in the window and thinks it’s another bird. The bird then feels threatened thinking another bird is invading their territory. This was probably the most exciting thing I’ve seen during my quarantine. Even though this wonderful spring time weather was exciting, Mother Nature decided to surprise us again. 

 This week began with a dusting of snow which was quite unusual. According to my parents, there hasn’t been much snow this past winter due to the high temperatures in New York. This unusual snowfall was followed by days of rain which melted all the snow. The temperature this week has been between 30 degrees and 60 degrees. Although the rain made it hard to enjoy going outside, the rain has caused some flowers to bloom in my front yard. My yard also has some eastern white pine trees. As I informed my dad about what types of  trees in the yard, I had to explain how the pine needles are acidic which is a reason why the grass has trouble growing where all the needles have fallen. 

March 19th marked the spring equinox. I am excited to see the changes going into the spring season. Soon the trees will bud, the flowers will grow, and I will begin to see more animals such as squirrels and chipmunks roam our yard. 

This is the view of my front yard.
These are some flowers that bloomed in my yard.
This is my dog named Harley! She has been keeping me company during this quarantine.

February; Survival

Wildlife Activity:

Usually when visiting my phenology site, there is very little animal activity. Typically I find dog prints and human footprints. Despite the cold weather, there is still a ton of human activity in Centennial Woods. When visiting my phenology site this week, I was greeted by a nice surprise. A murder of crows flew over my head as I sat by the Centennial brook. Usually crows (Corvus) inhabit open areas such as pastures and and fields used for farming. Typically crow populations peak around Christmas time, and then return to their breeding grounds in February (Lancaster County Crow Coalition, 2020). Their nesting place is usually evergreen trees, but they can nest in deciduous trees if there are no evergreens available (American Crow Life History). Crows are omnivores, meaning they eat everything from fruit to mammals to small insects. Crows are also responsible for eating road kill, which helps to prevent the spread of disease. I was able to identify the group of birds as crows because of their tail length and that when a crow flies it flaps its wings multiple times and does not glide as much. Also compared to ravens, crows fly in larger groups (Lancaster County Crow Coalition, 2020).

A murder of crows flying over Centennial Woods.

There were also signs of other animal activity. I noticed some bark removed from a tree. This could be from a white tailed deer. During the winter months, deer result to eating tree bank.

Tree bark removed from a tree in Centennial Woods.

In Centennial along the bank of the brook, there are many rocks. Usually under these rocks live chipmunks and other small mammals that burrow under the ground (Chipmunk Facts, 2020). These animals are normally preyed upon by crows. Crows also enjoy eating nuts. A nut bearing tree that is common in Centennial is the oak tree. Therefore, crows are very common in Centennial woods because of the food and nesting area the woods offers.

“A Peek Inside a Chipmunk Burrow”- Meg Sodano, March 2015

Phenological Changes:

Since last visiting my phenology site, it has changed slightly. There is no longer green moss on the tree that hangs over the brook. Also half of the brook now has ice over it due to the cold temperatures lately. The water level has risen which has caused the bank of the brook to become more eroded. There is still no signs of life in the brook. Centennial is very quiet since it is winter, there is minimal animal activity.

The brook located in Centennial Woods.


The Lancaster County Crow Coalition. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.lancastercrows.org/crows.html

Facts About Chipmunks: Chipmunk Facts: Havahart US. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2020, from http://www.havahart.com/chipmunk-facts

American Crow Life History, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2020, from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Crow/lifehistory

Field Notes.

1/31/2020 January; Endurance

Since the last time I visited my phenology site in Centennial Woods the site has changed quite a bit. When I first entered the woods the path route was the same as last time. Except now there is a layer of snow covering the ground. When walking on the path I noticed the track prints of human shoes as well as dogs. This shows that human activity is still common in the area during the winter seasons. Once I reached my spot I immediately noticed how high the water level of the brook is. This is probably because of the melting of the snow. Because of this higher water level, the sides of the brook are more eroded than they were in the fall. Since it is officially the winter season, there is no life in the brook and the only noticeable green of the area is the occasional moss on the trees. When visiting my site there was not a lot of animal activity. Occasionally there was a bird that would fly above and call out. To find some animal tracks I had to venture a little beyond the brook. I came upon what looked like deer tracks. The track was hoof shaped but did not have the separation between the two hoofs. Therefore, I was unsure as to what I had actually found. The track was too small to be a moose and it was too large to be any sort of rabbit or squirrel. I have identified a maple tree and an Eastern black walnut tree that hang over the brook. I was able to identify the Eastern black walnut by the twig I found. All the photos attached below were taken by me personally!

Dog tracks found in Centennial Woods.
Deer tracks found in Centennial Woods.
Eastern Black Walnut Twig.
Above is a diagram of a twig from an eastern black walnut tree.
Picture of my field notes.

Sense of Place.

For Thanksgiving break I traveled from UVM to my hometown of Poughkeepsie, New York to celebrate with my family. Since being at UVM my view of sense of place has changed quite a lot. Before I believed that sense of place was just about the memories created at that place. Now I understand the importance of keeping in mind the history of the land, the memories I created there, the economy of the area, and the interactions with the land. My hometown has always had a special place in my heart, but over break I really dug deep into the history and economic status of my area. My house is located in the suburbs of Poughkeepsie on a quaint street with many tall pine trees and oak trees. The neighborhood my house is in means a lot to me since this is the place where I grew up and created many memories here such as having snowball fights with my neighbors during this time of year. However, I consider myself fortunate to live in a beautiful house in the suburbs. Many of the people in my community are not as lucky as me. The City of Poughkeepsie itself is a rough area. Many of the people live in homes that look rundown and experience tough financial situations. The economy took a plunge in 2008 because of the housing crisis, also one of the largest companies in the area, IBM, began laying off employees causing many to lose jobs. Despite the situation with the economy in the past, during break I saw many new businesses being created as well as new apartments being built. I have hope that as the city begins to rebuild, more people will spend time enjoying the beauty the town has to offer. 

Despite the rundown look of the Town of Poughkeepsie, the Hudson River is the hidden gem. The river is the focal point of the town and is where most people spend their time. Personally, I spent a lot of my time down on the rocks that sit along the Hudson at Bowdoin Park. When I returned for break I visited this spot and realized the importance of the history of my area. I realized that this spot has changed quite a bit. All of the trees have lost their leaves and there was snow on the ground. There was a lot of evidence of human activity, the area was covered with plastic garbage which was extremely upsetting to me. Most people do not consider the history of Poughkeepsie and appreciate the land itself. Native American tribes such as the Mahicans and Lenapes settled along the banks of the Hudson River. They utilized the river for trade and as a source of food. You can find evidence of these tribes through the rocks along the hudson. Small rocks were used to make arrowheads and many had been left behind on the shores. Since coming to UVM I realized the people of my area do not respect the land and understand the importance of it. I want to bring the things I’ve learned from UVM to my hometown to teach the public about the importance of taking care of our area. 

This is a picture of the Hudson River and the Mid Hudson Bridge.

Blog Post 11/12/19

When visiting my phenology blog spot it had changed quite a bit since my last visit. First of all, Burlington was experiencing its first snowfall of the year. Therefore, when walking to my phenology spot I had to be careful to not slip and fall on the mud and ice. When I reached the spot, I realized the footbridge had been moved to a different area. This is because of how high the water level had become in the brook. To know that my phenology spot had been moved around almost made me feel sad. I always sat on the footbridge and took my field notes there.

Once I reached my spot I realized how many changes had actually occurred. The ground was covered in white, powdery snow. The ground was extremely muddy and the bank of the brook was more eroded than before. However, the brook had become more narrow. I can now stand in an area where there was once water. When searching for wildlife I realized there was no sign of the minnows in the brook as well as the water striders that were once there before. There was also no sign of birds which is because they migrate during this time which is discussed in the book Naturally Curious. Almost all of the vegetation had turned brown and the trees have now officially lost their leaves. 

Being from New York, I never realized how quickly the seasons changed in Burlington. The seasons changed slowly at home, fall lasted until November, winter lasted until March, and spring began in April. To know that there may still be snow on the ground in April is a scary thought.  I’ve realized how I created a sense of place at my phenology spot. It almost feels like the spot from home, where I would go to enjoy nature. I understand the history behind Centennial Woods, but as change occurs, I feel as if I’m learning more and more about my spot. In terms of Vermont as a whole, as the seasons change I’m experiencing how the environment changes and how organisms adapt to this change. To know that one day we may have a whole where people are unable to enjoy nature’s gifts is frightening. I would be devastated to find that Vermont changed due to climate change or deforestation. As I spend more time here in Vermont, I feel as if this place is becoming my home.

Blog Post 11/1/19

When visiting my phenology site at Centennial Woods this week, my site has changed a lot since my last visit. Pretty much all of the trees have lost their leaves except for the pines. The leaf litter on the ground has changed from bright colors of red and yellow to brown. Most of the grass has turned brown in color and the soil was quite muddy and mushy. The bank of the brook looked more eroded since my last visit probably from the rain. I visited my site on 10/30/19 before the huge rain storm last night. The water level of the brook had increased since my last visit but after last night the brook must be overwhelmed by water. During my visit I photographed six organisms that inhabit my phenology site. When I watch the water I can see the slight shimmer in the sunlight and then it suddenly vanishes. This is because of the small minnows swimming in the brook under the eroded bank. The surface of the water is sometimes disturbed by a water strider (Gerridae) making its way to its next destination. At my last visit there were much more water striders compared to now. This may be because of the temperature change from the last visit. The ground cover around the brook is mostly ferns and few areas of grass because of the colder temperature. Over looking the brook is a tall red oak tree. This tree has now lost almost all of its leaves but is still hanging on to the last couple of days of fall. The white pine trees tower over this small red oak. The pines have most of their needles at the top of the tree. The most notable difference between my past visit to now is the tree that hangs over the brook. The Eastern black walnut tree has now lost all of its leaves. All of these organisms represent the change from peak fall to the slow ending of fall. Most of the trees no longer have leaves and the organisms left in Centennial near my spot show the transition of getting ready for winter. I created a map of my site included below. I tried to represent how close my site is to human activity. Surrounding my site there are apartments as well as buildings owned by UVM. My site is located right after the footbridge that goes over the brook. I created the map before going to my site which caused me to miss many small details. Once I returned to my phenology site I included small details so you can better understand my spot in terms of Centennial Woods as a whole.

Below there are pictures of the organisms I encountered as well as my map and field notes.

Blog Post 10/23/19

The site for my phenology blog is located after the small bridges along the brook in Centennial Woods. I chose this area because the brook reminds me of the Wappingers River located in my hometown. Although the areas at home are not as beautiful as Centennial it is nice to be reminded of home. The brook is the defining feature of the area. The sound of running water brings a calming feeling over me as I sit beside it watching the trees sway in the wind. To get to my site I walk from my dorm, Harris Hall, to the main entrance of Centennial Woods. I walk through the main trail until I cross over the two small footbridges located on top of the brook. You know you’re there when you hear the running brook and see a small sitting area where you can reach in and feel the water. While taking notes for this blog post the area was quite busy. People exploring Centennial need to pass through this area to continue their journey deeper into the forest. Human activity is evident in this area, the soil is very packed down and I even found glass near the edge of the bridge. From the first time I visited the spot I noticed how many of the surrounding trees have lost their colorful leaves. There is now quite a lot of leaf litter on the ground and the bank of the brook is very eroded. Grasses are still flourishing although the weather is beginning to get colder. The small fish that inhabit the water tend to stay under the eroded bank and the occasional chipmunk will run by disrupting the quiet atmosphere. Although my spot is one of the main areas of human traffic, I am still able to sit back and take in the beauty that Centennial Woods has to offer. There is one tree that still has yet to lose its leaves. A red oak tree stands tall over the brook with bright red  leaves. Stay tuned for a new blog post soon!

Information from my field notebook is included below. Feel free to check it out:)

This is the site located in Centennial Woods.
These are the small bridges you cross over to get to my site in Centennial Woods.
Additional observations in field notebook recorded on 10/22/19.