The area smelled of worms and ozone, due to the rainfall earlier that morning. I noticed the sounds of silence as most of the birds have gone for the winter. The changes to vegetation have been very apparent since the last blog post. Now cold and mid-October, all the Ash, Black Cherry, and American Crabapple trees in the spot, except for the understory of Yellow Birch, Norway Maple, and Honeysuckle plants, have lost their yellow leaves to the ground. The Virginia creeper usually red and abundant has now lost its leaves, the stems are all that remain.
On the leaf littered ground, a fallen log shows signs of wildlife. A closer look reveals termite tracks from the summer have run their way all over the log. I could not find any evidence of food collection for hibernation, scat, or birds. It seems as though everything has gone dormant for the coming winter. I did however find a yellow band around an ash, showing evidence of human-sized wildlife. Then on my way out of the brush of understory that conceals my sit spot I noticed black spots on my pants. I bend down and realize that their are two nymph ticks are climbing their way towards the warmer regions of my body. Of course having acarophobia, I freaked out, pulled them out of my pants, and ran out of the spot as fast as I could.
One might wonder about the reasons students choose to study the environment at a school surrounded by a city. But, even in those developed places ecosystems and natural areas can be found everywhere. One of UVM’s beautiful natural areas is that of Centennial Woods, a place named for the longevity of its trees. I decided to choose it as the place where my phenology adventured would be housed, and took a stroll to see if anything would catch my eye.
Walking through the woods, I looked for a spot in a new adventure of phenology. As I walked deeper into the forest, the hardwood and Box Elder trees disappeared, and I came into the beginning of the Eastern White Pine forest of Centennial Woods. When I stopped to take a water break, I noticed light shining through the brush, to the left of the trail. So, being the curious person I am, I went exploring. As I pushed my way through the last young American Crabapples, the forest opened up into a clearing. The space had an old Eastern White Pine in the middle, with what seemed to be Virginia Creeper all over the ground and up the tree trunk. All around the clearing was Eastern White pines of all ages, with some younger understory hardwoods mixed in. The place spoke to me in a way I did not understand. It must of been the feng shui of the trees around the clearing, the nostalgia of the forests of home, or the excitement of being able to experience the battle between the older pine and the vine, that led me to choose the place as my new adventure.
List of Most Common Woody Plants:
- Eastern White Pine
- Virginia Creeper
- White Ash/Green Ash
- Norway Maple
- Black Cherry
- Yellow Birch
- American Crabapple