This was my last trip to my phenology site of freshman year! It is definitely sad to leave this place after seeing it change so much over the last year, but I’ll definitely be back in the fall to see how it looks.
My phenology spot did not change very much from the last visit. The area was still muddy and wet from the rainfall during the week. There may have been more plants burgeoning and trees getting more buds but there were very little small changes to the site.
I think that the culture of the students mixes with the nature of my spot. UVM and its students have a particular connection to nature that a lot of places do not have. So many students spend their time outside to connect with nature. I believe that my spot is a place where students can come together to do the things they love and learn to care about the environment more.
I think that overtime I learned to love my place a lot. Though it is a simple grove of trees, I loved it upon first site. I don’t think I personally became a part of my site but I think it will be somewhere that I will definitely visit in the future!
The day that I went to visit my site, it was very muddy. There was a lot of rain in the last week, and it made the soil and the leaves in my site very wet and slick. On my way there, there were so many earthworms that had come out of the ground due to the rain. There was a stream near my site and it was much higher than usual and flowing at a rapid rate towards the brook.
There was much fern growth in the area. In the fall when I had visited, there were always a lot of ferns and plants on the ground. There were many fully grown ferns as well as some rolled up ostrich ferns which were really pretty to see. There were also many little plants starting to sprout up from the ground. Most of the maples had already started to bud and there were some very small leaves coming out, but there was not much other growth. The ground in the area must be very fertile due to all the leaves that decompose in the area.
This break I got the chance to spend the week in Cartagena, Colombia. It was an incredible place to be looking at phenology and the natural world. a
Colombia is an incredibly biodiverse country. We were surrounded by so many different types of flora and fauna at the resort we were staying in. We had many encounters with iguanas. There were so many iguanas, we even saw ten in one tree. My mother, an avid birder saw over ten different species of birds including cuckoos, peacocks, two types of hummingbirds, and many others. We were also able to swim with a bunch of fish and feed them. There were also many wild cats, possum-like animals and some frogs.
The place where I was staying in Colombia was very different from my phenology spot at UVM. There were a lot of deciduous trees like in Vermont but they were all made for warmer climates. The weather in Cartagena was about 90 degrees every day and constantly sunny. This is very different from the weather that we have in Vermont. There were some birds that were similar to the ones back in Vermont but overall it was very different.
One of the opportunities I got was to go swimming with bioluminescent plankton. We went on a boat after dark and were driven out to the middle of a lagoon near where we were staying. As we approached, we were able to see the plankton due to the movement of the boat in the water. When we jumped in there were so many plankton and the originally dark water would turn this beautiful shade of aqua blue. My family and I spent the entire hour, just wading and moving our arms in every direction. It was one of the most awesome and unique experiences I’ve had.
My phenology site was would be considered to be a woodland. The entire area is covered in trees, and while there is wildlife activity, it is quite subtile. As observed in the early fall there are a lot of ground dwelling plants like ferns in the area.
What has changed since I went last was the amount of snow in the area. Due to recent warmer temperatures, there had been a lot of snow melting in the area. My phenology site is on a hill, causing the water to run down the hill, causing a m muddy area. When I first visited the phenology spot I chose, it was way more populated with plants as it was the early autumn. There was way more plant ground cover and there was a more intense canopy, causing the area to be shady. Now the ground is covered in snow and there is no plant life.
It is now February 2019, the start of the second month of the year. Throughout the last month, there has been much snowfall and much colder temperatures than the rest of the year. When I visited my phenology spot, I noticed how much snow had accumulated at my spot. All of the understory brush, like ferns, were completely covered and dead due to the snow cover.
The snow was perfect for noticing animal tracks, but its depth was a problem in identifying the type of animal to which it belonged to. The only tracks that were really obvious are in the second picture which is the track of a squirrel and it went from tree to tree in a galloping motion (2nd picture).
There weren’t very many types of trees and buds to identify in the area, but there were many maples, red and sugar (5th picture), and quite a few Eastern White Pines.
As the semester comes to an end and the seasons are on the brink of change, it’s perfect that my blog comes to a close with the origins of my phenology spot.
The 70 acres that are Centennial Woods has been used in various ways throughout history. Geologically, the area is part of a large sand deposit form when the glaciers were retreating. This area used to be part of Winooski River, which flowed into the Champlain Sea. Before the colonization of Vermont, this area would have been used by members of the Abenaki Tribe as a hunting ground. There is an abundance of animals of various types in these woods. European settlers also used this area. They used the scouring rush plant to scour their pots and pans and to sand wood. There is also evidence of human settlement due to certain large stone walls and barbed wire in the area. Fred Fiske bought the land in the early 1900s to farm, meaning that there was deforestation in the area and that the area has grown much since then. There are a lot of the same species of trees in the area and many old pines. Today, Centennial Woods acts as a recreation area for many people in the Burlington area. Students at UVM also use this area for their classes especially those in the environmental fields.
When I went home for Thanksgiving, I was thinking of where I could go for my phenology place. There is a nature preserve near my house that I sometimes go to if I am in the need for quiet and a nice reservoir where the mergansers play in the winter, but I didn’t feel like any of these were personal enough. I really wanted to pick somewhere I had spent quality time when I lived in my town full time. I chose the little, wooded area behind my house where I spent many an afternoon as a child.
When I made my trip across the yard to my childhood play area, there was still a lot of snow on the ground. The juncos were flittering around the yard. I saw the maples and the oaks tremble in the wind. I remember playing in this yard as a child, so completely unaware of the beauty that was nature. In those days my only care was playing around with the trees in my own little made up world. In a second I was transitioned from New Jersey to a world within the trees, where anything was possible. I was young then, and full of imagination and love for the world in a childlike way. I thought just because I was here in this natural place, that my actions had no effect on the rest of the world. Since then I see this the place as it truly is, the place where I was baptized into the church of Nature. I have seen every maple grow, each white pine branch snap, termites eat the dead trees. The deer have walked through this area many a time, jumping over fences with a certain grace. I have seen mulch put down in places where it shouldn’t. Such a place looks as if humans decided that the beauty should come second to the practicality of the place.
One thing about my phenology site at home that is different about the one in Burlington is the size, the one in Burlington looking like a giant compared to the little one at home. In both sites, there is an abundance of maple trees. Upon inspection of the ones at my house, I saw the maples were mostly Red and Norway maples, which was honestly quite a disappointment. I had always noticed an abundance of white pines in the NJ phenology spot and this was comparable to the few white pines that there are in my phenology site at UVM. There were a lot of birds in my spot at home including juncos, a pileated woodpecker, blue jays, goldfinches, sparrows and a few chickadees. I wasn’t able to identify many of the birds in Burlington, but I know that there was an abundance of crows and seagulls, which definitely isn’t uncommon in NJ either. The trees in Burlington were definitely much older than the trees at my house, as they were both taller and thicker. The trees at home were also much less advanced in the loss of their leaves than in Burlington. There had recently been a snowstorm, so the trees had lost a lot of leaves but definitely not as many as at school.
I decided to visit my site again on Saturday, October 20th. The weather going to my site was very nice, around 60 degrees and sunny. There were a lot of birds chirping and Centennial Woods seemed to be filled with life.
I observed the flora and fauna that could be found at my site. There was a large number of ferns that populated the ground. There were also multiple species of maples, like red, sugar, and Norway maples. There was one Black Cherry tree in the area and several Eastern White Pines. I wasn’t able to actually see any animals or other organisms but there were signs that there was animal life in the area. There were many snagged trees, and the tree that was my center point had a huge hole in it that could be used to house birds, chipmunks, and other fauna. There was also a tree that seemed that it had either been drilled by a woodpecker for food. There were also just general animal noises all around us.
To get to my site you must start by going to Centennial Woods. Once you reach the woods, start down the path and continue until you get to the clearing right before the creek and wooden footbridges. On the left, there is a small footpath that will lead into a grove of very tall trees. In this grove there are very many various trees and plants including beech, ferns and maple trees.