Posted by: dscaffidi | December 21, 2013

Phenology at Conserve School (Part II)

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In the three short months since my first phenology post, Lowenwood and all the life who call this place home have experienced three seasons. Our present frozen state welcomes quiet and peace to the woods, but with all the time spent outside here at Conserve School, we have found clues and observed the behaviors of many animals who stay active all winter long. Lately we have been seeing goldfinches, black-capped chickadees, blue jays, mourning doves, nuthatches, woodpeckers, ravens, crows, porcupine, red squirrels, a fox, deer, and even a flying squirrel, spotted in the early evening (they are nocturnal).

Through summer, fall, and winter students have been visiting their phenology spots. These visits connect students to the seasonal rhythms of the natural world, inspiring great insight. Here are some excerpts from casual conversation with students about their phenology spots:

“There was a moment when there was fresh snow and everything seemed dead, but then I started psshing and a bunch of birds appeared. It made me realize that nature is way more interactive than I thought it was. Because of my phenology spot, I know how to interact more with nature instead of just watching it and trying to protect it.” — Randa

“[My phenology spot] became a place of refuge that I probably wouldn’t have found on my own. I became really familiar and attached to it and even named my sitting rock, Xanadu.” — Sophia

“At first [my phenology spot] seemed like everywhere else, but then I found a blue stain fungus. That connected me to the place and made it feel more special.” — Hattie

Three seasons ago Emily and Henry H. shared photographs and initial impressions of their phenology spots: Phenology (Part I) blog post. Today, as we celebrate the longest night, I leave you with fresh images and closing thoughts from these two phenologists.

Emily's spot

Emily’s spot

“As the seasons have changed, so has my phenology spot. Not only was my phenology spot logged, but it has also been covered in a fresh layer of untouched snow. As I was walking to my spot I noticed how quiet it was compared to when I first started going. I saw many tracks in the snow from small animals such as squirrels and rabbits. Once I reached my destination I felt a sense of serenity, almost like a new start, making my own tracks in the snow and brushing the undisturbed snow off of the log I sat on. I wonder what I will remember about this particular spot in thirty years, maybe that it was logged or maybe that it just stuck out to me the first time I walked past it.” — Emily

Henry's spot

Henry’s spot

“As the seasons changed, I got to view the change in wildlife. Many plants changed colors and some animals left or went into hibernation. One of the most prominent examples was the golden yellow tamaracks. It was such a profound change in color. I also got to watch the number of animals decrease until most of the time I could only see tracks in the snow. I wonder what will happen to my chipmunk friend. He, or she for that matter, lives in the hollow woodpecker tree that hangs over the lake. I suppose he will be hibernating in his hole. It is amazing how animals can actually lower their core body temperature to conserve energy. Evolution is truly a magnificent power! It will be sad to leave Lowenwood, and lose “my” observation territory. However, I know that my memories will always be preserved in my phenology map, and the journal entries I have made. “ — Henry H.

~ Donelle Scaffidi, Graduate Fellow



  1. […] Stay tuned for more insight and observations from our local phenologists (Phenology Part II blog post)! […]

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