Archive for November, 2018

Phenology Site in New Jersey

The Phenology site that I explored over break is a little spot in the woods along a lake at the end of my street that I have frequented for my whole life. The lake drains into a stream that heads into the woods. Here is a link to its location on a map.

My site is an interesting place to visit regardless of the season. During the summer, you are likely to spot the Northern Water Snake that usually resides by the rocky edges of the lake, or if you are lucky, maybe even a Musk Turtle. Large mouth bass and Blue gills swim in circles, sometimes getting swept out of the lake and into the stream. Blue Herons lie patiently in the shallow areas, surrounded by cattails and duckweed, waiting for the right moment to strike at whatever small fish they are terrorizing at the moment. In the winter, there is much less activity, but my site is still worth a visit. There is a mating pair of Bald Eagles that nests along the lake every year, and it is always a thrill to spot one. Large quantities of Mute Swans seem to remain on the lake no matter how cold it gets. The same can be said for the White Tail Deer (in the woods surrounding the lake, of course). It is always fun to visit during spring, as you are likely to come across a Common Snapping Turtle or Painted Turtle laying its eggs, although they are usually devoured by a hungry skunk the next night.

The most visible difference between my site in Burlington and my site in New Jersey is the absence of water in my Burlington site. The quiet bubbling of the stream in my NJ site is a wonderful backdrop for a peaceful afternoon of thinking and reflection while staring at the quarry across the lake. Neither site offers complete isolation from human activity, as one is likely to be intruded upon by hikers in my little nook of Centennial Woods, while my site in NJ is often rocked by explosions from the nearby rock quarry and military testing facility. Despite this, I find tranquility at each through their unique features. In Centennial Woods, my site plays host to many of my favorite tree, the Eastern Hemlock. Although my NJ site features almost no conifers (which I prefer in general over hardwoods), I still find joy in the many varieties of aquatic vegetation, such as cattails, duckweed, water lilies, and water hyacinths that can be spotted on the lake. There seems to be more of an animal presence in my NJ site, as there are less people around. In Centennial, I have encountered only a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers and a few Chipmunks, while at my NJ site I have seen everything from massive carp to Black Bears.

Update 11/5

After visiting my site on November 4th, I noticed some obvious changes from my last visit. Almost all of the deciduous trees have lost all of their leaves. There are a few Yellow Birch remaining that still have some of their leaves. The singular Barberry also still has its leaves, although they are now yellow. Due to the high amount of leaves dropped, there is a larger amount of parent material/organic matter on the forest floor, composed mostly of Yellow Birch leaves. The ground was also much wetter than it was at my last visit, due to the constant rain from the past week. In some areas at the base of the valley, water has even begun to pool a little bit. Meanwhile, the Cinnamon ferns that were yellowing at my last visit are now all but gone. They seem to have completely died and dissipated into the organic material covering the soil, whereas the Christmas ferns and Eastern Hay Scented ferns look no different than they did at my first visit. Moss is still very prevalent at my site, although much of it is now covered by leaves, so it is not as noticeable. The same holds true for the mushrooms. There was no sign of the Pileated Woodpeckers from my last visit, but I did encounter a Blue Jay.       Here is a link to a bigger version of my Event Map:

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