24 Mar

Click here for rough map of outing.

(Pictures relating to the text appear at the end of the notes. The most recent posts show up above older posts – scroll down to make sure you haven’t missed any previous ‘reports’.)

keywords: leaves, spider, ground beetle, salamander, stonewall


The Agawamuck is already showing cobble banks. Perhaps we'll get a second spring flood with the April Showers. Sorry for the grey picture, it was a grey day...


A Wolf Spider (clutching an egg sac underneath her) and a Ground Beetle were exposed when I lifted a rock. Wolf Spiders stalk prey, but they do produce silk and use it for spinning a protective nest.


The cut stump of a stream-side Willow. Notice the broad annual rings, at least towards the center of the stump. This was a fast-growing tree and looked like it was little more than 30 years old. A similar-sized Hemlock on the hillside might be more than 150 years old.

The thawed edge of the Fire Pond, awaiting the arrival of 'vernal pool amphibians'. I went to Black & White for this photograph, why fight the greyness?


A Red-backed Salamander that had been resting beneath a rock. This little guy apparently lost the tip of his tail at some point.


Four leaves from the leaf litter. They look to be (from left to right) Sugar Maple, Hop Hornbeam, Chestnut Oak and Red Oak. The first two leaves tend to break down much more quickly than those of the Oaks.

This rockwall heads determinedly up Phudd Hill. Why? Rocks were usually assembled when fields were plowed, and yet it is hard to imagine this rocky talus was ever plowed. If it ever was, the exposed dirt was probably quickly washed away, leaving.... rocks.


This vernal pool on the side of Phudd Hill showed no signs of frogs or salamanders yet, but its waters were already tinged with algal green.


Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Nature


2 responses to “

  1. hvfarmscape

    March 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    The photo doesn’t have enough clarity to see the very thin rings that are bunched up near the outside of the stump. The width of the ring is determined by how fast the tree grew during the given year. This tree clearly had an early growth spurt and then slowed down substantially during its later years. Some deep forest trees like hemlock will hang out for quite a few years as small trees in the understory, not growing quickly until a gap in the canopy opens up. Dating those trees is also tricky because the early rings can be so thin.

    Regarding sheep and rock walls. Yes, certainly there may have been sheep on those hills, but stone walls often had double functions – clearing the land of stone and forming part of a fence. These shallow walls, while they may have fallen a bit over the years, were probably never high enough to keep livestock in or out of fields (many early fences were not meant to keep livestock IN pastures, but rather to keep free-ranging livestock OUT OF crop fields). So, you would still need the wooden fence anyway and if the land you were walling in wasn’t crop land, why go to the effort of placing rocks up the hill? Evidently, there was sense to it, and perhaps having that line of rocks made it easier to erect the wooden fencing. The person who owned this land during the 1850s did have about 100 sheep. Ideas welcome.

  2. Wendy Conway

    March 30, 2011 at 11:19 am

    A basic question: I count 14-15 rings on the cut stump of the willow. Does the photo not have enough clarity, or am I counting the rings wrong?
    And a speculation: remembering an FEP article on sheep in the county, might the seemingly intentional stone wall heading up Phudd Hill have something to do with pasturing sheep?
    Thank you for sharing your observations –


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