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Lone Rock Point Phenology

Centennial Woods Send Off

Posted: May 4th, 2019 by pstollst

Just in these past two weeks since the last time I visited my phenology site, there have been some noticeable changes. Many of the trees and shrubs have produced leaflets. These include Box Elder, Ash, Barberry, and Northern Red Oak. I also noticed a big change in the bird activity. There were many more birds singing this week. One species I heard that really stood out to me was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. These birds are migratory, and this was the first one I heard this year.

Over the course of this semester, I have learned a lot about my phenology site, and I have grown a strong bond with it. Centennial Woods is home to a rich cultural history. In the past, my phenology site was part of a cattle farm. It was clear cut in some areas so that the cattle could graze. Signs of this are visible still. The presence of many pioneer tree species that thrive in disturbed areas have taken advantage of this. Now, the culture of this spot has changed, and it has become a recreational area for the public. Many people utilize this area to hike, go birding, or just get out and enjoy nature. I use this area for many of the same purposes and it has created a strong bond for me. Since the first time I stepped foot in Centennial Woods, I knew that it was going to be a special place for me throughout my time at UVM. As of the end of this year, that feeling has proven to be true.

Spring Has Arrived

Posted: April 26th, 2019 by pstollst

Much has changed in Centennial Woods since March. To start, all of the snow and ice has melted, and the forest is coming back to life. More birds are singing, more squirrels are out foraging, and some trees are even starting to grow leaflets. While I didn’t see any trees flowering yet, I did notice that a Yellow Birch, Northern Red Oak, and a Sugar Maple all had leaves starting to sprout from their buds. I also have yet to see any wildflowers in the area, but I’m sure that won’t take long with all of the rain and the increasing temperatures that we’ve had recently.

Having a particular interest in birds, my eyes are always up, and I am constantly listening to the melody of the forest. One of the highlights of my outing was when a Bald Eagle flew low over the trees. I was also very happy to hear Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches, Black-capped Chickadees, and a White-breasted Nuthatch.

Sketches of the Bald Eagle

Spring Break in Pennsylvania

Posted: March 18th, 2019 by pstollst

Over spring break, I was able to spend a lot of time outside due to the nice, warm weather. One place that I spent a lot of time in was Tyler State Park, a place where I spent much of my free time growing up.  Going back before this land was purchased from William Penn in 1682, the area was inhabited by the Lenni Lenape native Americans. Then, in the 18th century, the land was used for farming and consisted of 18 farms covering 2,000 acres. The main water source running through the park, the Neshaminy Creek, was used to power mills and supply water for the farms.

Although this park is a few hundred miles south of Burlington, much of the plants and animals I encountered were the same. This park is considered to be a mixed oak forest. So, there were many Northern Red Oaks, White Oaks, and other similar trees such as Tulip Poplars and Shagbark Hickories. The mammals were also similar. The most common mammal in the park is the Gray Squirrel. There is also a very high population of White-tailed Deer living in Tyler State Park. However, some of the bird species were different. Since it is much further south, there were a few migratory species that I saw there which have not yet arrived in Burlington. These include Red-winged Blackbirds, Tree Swallows, and Chipping Sparrows. Another bird species that is a resident to the area is the Carolina Chickadee. While they are very similar to the northern counterpart found in Vermont, the Black-capped Chickadee, Pennsylvania is the northern extent of their range, so I do not see them in Burlington.

Red-winged Blackbird singing in the early morning


(2019). History of tyler state park. Retrieved from Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website: https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/TylerStatePark/Pages/History.aspx

Exploring Natural Communities of Centennial Woods

Posted: March 8th, 2019 by pstollst

After investigating my phenology spot in Centennial Woods and reading through Wetland, Woodland, Wildland, I believe that the natural community of my area is a White Pine – Red Oak – Black Oak Forest. I came to this conclusion by noting the large numbers of both Eastern White Pines and Northern Red Oaks. Many of them are old trees that occupy the canopy, showing that there has been a stable population for some time now. Another feature of my spot that is described in Wetland, Woodland, Wildland is the fact that White Pine – Red Oak – Black Oak Forests often occupy the slopes of stream valleys. This description fits the characteristics of my spot precisely.

Although I only decided to change my phenology spot to Centennial Woods at the beginning of this semester, I have been visiting it ever since the start of the first semester back in September. A lot has changed from then. Of course, all of the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves. However, this has not had a great impact on the amount of sunlight reaching my area because it is largely inhabited by Eastern White Pines which don’t lose their needles. Additionally, on the other side of Centennial Brook is a small meadow. During my first visit, it was lush and full of tall grasses. Now, most of that has died and been matted down by all of the snow, leaving a barren open area there. Finally, the wildlife present in this area has decreased dramatically. In September, I would see and hear many different species of birds including Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and more. Now, the only birds that I hear regularly are American Crows flying over. I also see much fewer squirrels and no chipmunks which were both abundant in the early fall.

Switching Gears to Centennial Woods!

Posted: February 4th, 2019 by pstollst

After spending much time exploring Lone Rock Point and the area surrounding it, I decided to check out a new place that is important to me: Centennial Woods. To get to this spot, I walk out the back of Harris/Millis along Spear Street and follow that across Main Street. From there, I walk along East Avenue and turn right onto Catamount Drive which takes me right to the entrance of Centennial Woods. To get to my specific spot, I follow the path across the stream, go beyond the steep hill on the right and then walk back down to the water.


During my visit to this spot, things were pretty quiet in terms of wildlife. I heard a few Black-capped Chickadees calling from the Eastern Hemlocks, but not much else was making their presence apparent. There was also a very light rain that dampened the tracks of animals that had gone through. However, there was plenty of human activity, and I found what I believe to be dog tracks that were next to some person’s footprints.

Although the wildlife may have been hiding that day, the trees couldn’t! My area is home to many Eastern Hemlocks along with some Eastern White Pines, and a few White Oaks. This sketch of a White Oak below represents some of their features that make it possible to identify them in the winter.


Human History in Lone Rock

Posted: December 7th, 2018 by pstollst

Since my last visit to Lone Rock Point, the vegetation changed quite a bit. All of the deciduous trees had lost their leaves. However, the coniferous trees such as Northern White Cedar, Eastern Hemlock, and Eastern White Pine remained the same. Additionally, the wildlife activity was much lower than normal. I imagine this was due to the cold and most animals have moved south or found a place to stay for the winter.

Lone Rock Point is an area of rich human history. Its positioning along the water makes it a likely spot for the Abenaki Indians to have conducted a wide variety of activities, or an area of “high prehistoric sensitivity”. As evidence to suggest this was the case, arrowheads have been found on North Beach, adjacent to Lone Rock.

Example of an Arrowhead Used by Native Americans

Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/78874316@N06/7223086754

Later, in 1841, Bishop John Henry Hopkins purchased the land and built a house on the area. To do this, he clear-cut a substantial portion of the forest there and removed the brush in the understory. He used stone from the point to construct this house. This meant that he had to blast large boulders and quarry stone on Lone Rock. In addition to the house, the Hopkins family also planted an apple orchard on the peninsula. While there aren’t apple trees in my plot, I have seen a few as I am walking through the woods there. I imagine that they are remnants from the orchard. Today, the land is still owned by the Diocese of Vermont.

Hopkins House on Lone Rock Point

Retrieved from http://www.uvm.edu/place/burlingtongeographic/focalplaces/rp-landuse.php


(n.d.). Rock point: Human land-use history. Retrieved from Burlington Geographic website:         http://www.uvm.edu/place/burlingtongeographic/focalplaces/rp-landuse.php


Thanksgiving Phenology in Pennsylvania

Posted: November 26th, 2018 by pstollst


Over Thanksgiving break, I spent a day at the Peace Valley Nature Center, a local park that I have been going to for many years now.

The spot that I chose for the Thanksgiving Break phenology assignment is very special to me.  I have spent countless hours there over the past couple of years exploring the terrain and searching for wildlife.  It is composed of a large lake surrounded by lush forests and some meadows.  The forests are a good mix of hardwoods and coniferous trees.  This diverse habitat makes for a great spot to find birds and other wildlife.  One of my favorite places to go while I am visiting the park is the bird blind.  With a pond and a few bird feeders out in the woods, the bird blind offers a great spot to see a wide variety of species.  I often find myself loosing track of time and sometimes spending hours just watching the different birds come close to the feeders.  Although there is always a large number of birds present at the bird blind, I always make sure to travel out into the untouched woodlands.  This is where I have the best luck in finding the species that are more secretive and uncommon.  The lake also offers another spot with different wildlife.  I can always rely on finding Canada Geese and other species of waterfowl on this lake.

White-tailed Deer

Lake Galena

Mourning Dove

White-breasted Nuthatch

Northern Cardinal

Blue Jay

Red-bellied Woodpecker


There are many similarities and differences between Lone Rock Point and Peace Valley Park.  First of all, they are both at the edge of a large lake.  However, Lake Champlain dwarfs the lake within Peace Valley Park.  Another difference is the topography of the areas.  Lone Rock Point is much rockier and barer than Peace Valley Park.  This spot that I chose over Thanksgiving break was very flat and had almost no exposed rock or bare ground.  Additionally, the tree composition was quite different.  The most common trees at Lone Rock Point are Northern White Cedars, Sugar Maples, and Northern Red Oaks.  However, at Peace Valley Park, the most common trees are Eastern White Pine, Norway Spruce, White Oak, and there are also many Weeping Willow trees on the edge of the lake.  The final comparison that I noticed was with the wildlife present at each spot.  One similarity amongst the wildlife was that there were many of the same species at each spot.  In both areas I have seen Eastern Gray Squirrels, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Tufted Titmice.  Both areas are also home to chickadees.  However, up at Lone Rock Point, there are Black-capped Chickadees.  Further south in Pennsylvania, the chickadees present are Carolina Chickadees.  Over-all, it seems that the wildlife is more abundant at Peace Valley Park than at Lone Rock Point.

Finally a Sunny Day – Lone Rock Point 11/4/18

Posted: November 5th, 2018 by pstollst

This event map shows all of the interesting things that I encountered while walking to, from, and through my phenology spot.

Other than the sun being out, not a whole lot changed at Lone Rock Point in the last two weeks.  However, most of the deciduous trees that had fall colors two weeks ago had lost many of their leaves.  Additionally, any deciduous trees that were green two weeks ago had changed to having yellow or orange leaves.  The animal species that I observed two weeks ago (Grey Squirrel, Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Yellow-rumped Warbler) were all still there.  However, I did find an additional bird species this time: a Barred Owl.  This was the most exciting part of my trip to Lone Rock, and I stayed with this bird for as long as I could before I had to leave.

Northern White Cedars

Northern White Cedars

Northern White Cedar at the edge of Lone Rock Point

Grey Squirrel

Barred Owl

Barred Owl coughing up a pellet

Lone Rock Point Visit 2

Posted: October 22nd, 2018 by pstollst

This week, the deciduous trees had either turned orange or lost their leaves.  However, the Northern White Cedars and other coniferous trees remained green.  Other than that, not much else was different among the flora in the area.  However, animal activity seemed lower.  I saw fewer squirrels and heard fewer birds.  The only species of bird that was still relatively abundant in the area was the Golden-crowned Kinglet.  However, I did see some signs that woodpeckers had been in the area, but I did not see or hear any that day.  I did not see any other signs that animals had been there such as scat or footprints, but I’m confident that squirrels and/or chipmunks had been in the area based on activity nearby.

Woodpecker Holes

Introduction to Lone Rock Point

Posted: October 8th, 2018 by pstollst

Since my first time visiting Lone Rock Point earlier this year, I knew that it was a special place.  I absolutely loved it and had to choose it as my spot for this phenology project.  Although it is a journey to get there, it is well worth the hassle.  I take the bus down from the Waterman Building to the waterfront at the ECHO Center.  From there, I walk along the bike path all the way to North Beach.  Then, I cross the sand and head up into the woods.  I follow the trail all the way to the end when it opens up with a beautiful view of Lone Rock, Lake Champlain, and the Adirondack Mountains.

A couple days ago I watched one of the most amazing sunsets at Lone Rock Point I have ever seen.

Although the views are totally captivating, the flora and fauna are just as amazing here.  Among other trees, the Northern White Cedars twist over rocks and create some amazing shapes.  Here is a list of the trees that I found here:

Northern White Cedar

Eastern White Pine

Northern Red Oak

Sugar Maple

Green Ash

Shagbark Hickory

Common Buckthorn


This is the trunk of a Northern White Cedar with lichen growing on it.

Among these trees were both Grey and Red Squirrels and many species of birds.  These included common species such as Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, and Downy Woodpeckers.  Also present were a few migratory birds such as Yellow-rumped Warblers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.


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