Archive for March, 2019

Spring Break Update

The site that I chose to visit over break was the pond and a patch of the surrounding forest at the end of my street in Rockaway, NJ. When I visited this site, NJ had been on a warm streak for a few days and I was unfortunately unable to see any tracks due to the lack of snow. I was able to determine which tree species were most common on my site. The three most prominent species were Yellow Birch, Red Maple, and American Beech. My site in Centennial Woods also contains many Yellow Birch and a few Red Maple, but no American Beech. I believe that the occurrence of Yellow Birch at both sites is because both contain moist, swampy soils that Yellow Birch thrive in. My site in NJ contains a lot more small woody plants than my Centennial Woods site, and unfortunately I was unable to identify most of them. There was an abundance of Common Reed Grass along the water’s edge. This grass is not found in my Centennial Woods site due to the absence of water. There was not an abundance of Christmas Fern at my NJ site like there is in Centennial. I know from past experiences that there are ferns on my NJ site, but they are species that die in the winter and come back in the spring like Cinnamon Fern or Hay-scented Fern. I encountered many birds at my site in NJ. I witnessed a Mute Swan foraging through the weeds in the water, and another swan that was presumably its partner out further on the water. I identified a Tufted Titmouse and Black-capped Chickadee by their calls, although I could not locate them visually. A Red-tailed Hawk also flew over my site at one point. I have identified Black-capped Chickadees at my Centennial Woods site too. One bird I have seen in Centennial that I did not spot in NJ is the Pileated Woodpecker. My NJ site lies at the southern end of their range and it is quite uncommon to see them around.

March Update

My site in its current condition does not really fit any of the natural communities defined in Wetland, Woodland, Wildland very well. Despite being a valley that tends to collect precipitation, I don’t think that it has the potential to ever accumulate enough to be considered a marsh or swamp. It also certainly isn’t a beach or lake shore. That leaves the different kinds of forests as options. Currently, the most abundant trees at my site are Eastern Hemlock, White Pine, and Yellow Birch. That doesn’t really match any of the forest communities given, but I can make assumptions about the soil type at my site based on the trees living there. All three of these species prefer acidic soil. Knowing that the soil at my site is likely acidic, I can predict which natural forest community it has the potential to be. Anything with limestone or high amounts of calcium is eliminated, as that would indicate basic soil. An Oak/Hickory/Hophornbeam community is possible, as there are a few Red Oaks on my site. However, I have not seen any Hickory or Hophornbeam anywhere in the area. My site could also be considered a Valley Clayplain forest, as these sites were formerly very common in Burlington and often used as farmland, just like Centennial Woods was. Overall, I think the best way to describe my site is a Northern Hardwood Forest that happens to have a lot of conifers in this one spot.

In terms of phenological changes, my site has not changed much since the last time that I was there. There is still a thick layer of snow and ice covering the forest floor, and the trees are still bare. Buds are beginning to form, but there are no leaves yet. The conifers are still green, as they always are. Under the snow, the ice covering the bottom of the valley that makes up my site is at least 2 inches thick. Below that, the ground, which is usually somewhat muddy, is also frozen solid.

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