February: Survival

This month’s field notes at the Redstone Pines.
An overall look at the Redstone Pines!

One phenological change I noticed from January to February, not just in the Redstone Pines but on campus as a whole, is that I’m starting to hear more birds, especially on really sunny days. According to Naturally Curious, the birds I could be hearing are Northern shrikes, blue jays, or black-capped chickadees (Holland, 2019). Something I noticed this past visit to the Redstone Pines that I didn’t last month was the mix of type of snow. Parts of the ground had more powdery snow while others had more icy, packed snow. There were also patches of the ground where the snow had melted altogether. In the past week, I’ve noticed a lot more people hammocking than anytime else this semester. I think a lot of people were taking advantage of the warmer weather earlier this week!

Grey Squirrel

The grey squirrel is a rodent that is particulary easy to spot during the late winter because of the colors. It uses food caches to survive the winter, which they relocate by scent (Harris). Predators of the grey squirrel that might interact with squirrrels in the Redstone pines might include different owls, domestic cats, red foxes, and weasels (Wildlife). Because grey squirrels in the Redstone Pines are surrounded by people, they interact people frequently.

Spotted! It’s super zoomed in, but here’s a picture of a squirrel I saw. I saw a ton of squirrel tracks today.
Close up of tracks
More tracks!!!
These tracks were really iunteresting to me at first because I’m not sure what is creating the straight line in the snow. I think that it’s probabaly domestic dog tracks with a leash dragging in the snow, but there aren’t really human tracks adjacent to them.

Works Cited

Holland, M. (2019). February: Survival. In Naturally Curious(pp. 401–432). Trafalgar Square Books.

Harris, S. (n.d.). Understand Grey Squirrels. Retrieved from https://www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/mammals/understand-grey-squirrels/

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January- Endurance

These are grey squirrel tracks! It makes sense that I spotted these because I almost always see them when visiting the Redstone Pines.

There hasn’t been much phenological change from December to January at the Redstone pines.

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Orangetown / Rockland County Sense of Place

The Hudson River has an interesting history of pollution throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Most infamously, General Electric dumped an estimated 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, into the Hudson River. I live in the widest part of the Hudson River, where a General Motors factory was once located. General Motors used to dump unused paint into the Hudson River so frequently that you could tell what color the cars made that day were because of the color of the river. This destructive treatment of the Hudson River became illegal in the 1970s with the implementation of the Clean Water Act. Since then, the Hudson River has become a lot less polluted, but PCBs still remain.

Though the New York Department of Conservation and others claim it is safe to swim in the Hudson, nobody actually does. Many are aware of the Hudson River’s history or are turned off by the murky, brown color of the water. However, the murkiness is a result of tidal currents and the salinity of the water suspending sediment in the water. The New York Department of Conservation believes that the Hudson River was probably brown colored before European settlement. The Hudson River has limited outdoor recreation today because of the way it has been treated and polluted in the past by industrial entities. If the Hudson River was clean and a more safe and popular place to swim and have other forms of outdoor recreation, I imagine my family and I would have a different connection to the landscape. Tourism might increase, and real estate values would increase. Homes near the river, or ones that have water views, are already outrageously expensive due to their proximity to New York City. I’m not sure if my family would be able to afford where we live if the Hudson River was clean.

Rockland Lake, which is next to my hometown, is a man-made lake once used for its ice. Before electric refrigerators, Rockland Lake’s ice was used for iceboxes and shipped down the Hudson River to Manhattan. Rockland Lake is right next to Hook Mountain, one of my favorite places to hike at home. Stone walls and foundations of buildings can be found in Hook Mountain state park due to its history in the ice industry. Now, these places are used for outdoor recreation, with hiking trails and bike paths. These places are where I have hiked the most, and my passion for outdoor recreation is what started my appreciation for the environment. Not only have these places created a sense of place for me, but they have led me to the place where I am today.

Piermont Pier
Nyack Beach
Nyack Beach

Works Cited

New York State Department of Conservation. (n.d.). How is the Hudson Doing? Retrieved from 


Riverkeeper. (n.d.). Hudson River PCBs. Retrieved from https://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/stop-polluters/pcbs/.

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Field Notes

I just realized that the pictures of my field notes for the last two prompts did not upload! So here they are:

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Phenology and Place

SNOW!!! We must be approaching the end of this project because it’s officially winter. It snowed and the Redstone Pines still look beautiful. It’s definitely got a winter wonderland look to it.

Something I noticed while visiting my phenology site is that two trees have fallen since the last time I was here. I’m not sure when exactly this happened but I think it was pretty recent. On Saturday it was really windy and I think this might have happened then.

Surprisingly, some of the leaves are still clinging on to this bush. For now. I think they’re going to fall off pretty soon. I was surprised to see them though. Additionally, I saw one very small deciduous tree with 

I saw more squirrels today too. I finally got a picture of one of my way out of the pines. They’re pretty fast and I can never get close enough to take a good photo.

The Redstone Pines has a sense of place through the way it has changed throughout this project. From the changing deciduous trees, colder temperatures, migration of birds, and finally with the first snow, it has experienced phenological change. The Redstone Pines also has a sense of place at the University of Vermont. During the warmer months, students spent a lot of time here. Whether they were hammocking, slacklining, or just hanging out, this site has personal significance to students here. I’m not sure how long the Redstone Pines have been around for. I do know that the Eastern white pines are pretty big and I think they have at least been around for a long time. One important thing to note about the land history of this natural community is that it was once Abenaki land. The sense of place of the Redstone Pines is shaped by its physical features, the community it is part of, and its history.

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Mapping & Charismatic Species

Here’s a picture of my field notes from my last visit to Redstone Pines. It also shows the map I made of my phenology site too. I included where you could find some of the species I identified, the types of vegetation, and the surrounding roads and walkways.

Here’s a picture of one of the few deciduous trees you can find in the Redstone Pines, a Norway maple. Norway maple leaves, along with pine needles, are what is mostly making up the leaf litter I’ve been finding a lot when I visit my site.

This is a picture of a black cherry tree. You can tell it’s a black cherry because of the bark.

Here’s a picture of the most abundant tree in the Redstone Pines, the Eastern white pine. I believe that these were probably planted by people developing UVM’s campus, and don’t naturally occur here.

This is lesser periwinkle. It covers a pretty large part of the ground at Redstone Pines, closer to Henderson Terrace.

I found common buckthorn last time I was in the Redstone Pines. This is an invasive, non-native species to Vermont.

I couldn’t identify the specific species of this plant, but I think it is something called brambles. I’ve seen it in Centennial Woods too!

Here are a few more interesting and pretty pictures I took while in Redstone Pines:

I saw a squirrel the last time I was here, but I couldn’t get a picture of it. I’ve seen a lot less squirrels here than I did in the beginning of the semester, probably because of the cooler temperatures. Overall, or at least plant wise, I don’t think the Redstone Pines are that biodiverse. It might appear more biodiverse during the spring and summer though. The soil at Redstone Pines has a really think O-horizon, mostly made up of pine needles and other leaf litter (like from the Norway maple). There’s a lot less people here than the beginning of the semester, probably because of the cooler weather. I found some graffitti and included a picture of it.

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Entry #1

The Redstone Pines Recreation Area is a semi-forested, semi-cleared area adjacent to the Redstone campus at UVM. The Redstone Pines are mostly coniferous Eastern white pine trees, but there are a few deciduous trees and woody shrubs. You can almost always find squirrels at the Redstone Pines. They are constantly around. I’ve also heard blue jays several times while spending time in the Redstone pines. Even though the Redstone pines are mostly coniferous, I found a decent amount of leaf litter on the ground due to it being autumn. Additionally, much of the woody shrub at the Redstone Pines are changing color. One can get to the Redstone Pines by taking the path from main street to the redstone campus. Once you pass the Interfaith Center but before you reach Redstone hall, the Redstone Pines will be on your right. It’s a pretty large stand of Eastern white pines and is difficult to miss. 

UVM students like to spend time in the Redstone by hammocking. It’s low impact, and the trees are perfectly spread out from each other that hammocking is super easy. The Redstone Pines is a really great place for students to hang out and relax after a long day of classes. It’s a convenient and a great way for students that don’t have a car or can’t get off campus often to have an outdoor experience.

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Redstone Pines!

I chose the Redstone Pines as my site for my phenology project because they’re super accessible and close to where I live. Here’s a photo I took last week!

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