2019 Survey Results

Geographic distribution of observations (provided by iNaturalist)
I set out to survey the flowering plants of my recently-purchased land, which almost immediately expanded to an informal general life survey. I used the incredible tool iNaturalist to track observations. My iNat project is "A Land Like This One". Thank you to Nathaniel for his contributions and company.

Statistics
This data was collected over approximately 20 visits from March through December, averaging perhaps 3 hours of active search/exploration time per visit. At the time of writing this...
The numbers are strongly skewed by sampling bias and my areas of interest/knowledge:
  • I am most familiar with herbaceous flowering plants. (63% of flowering plant observations are research-grade vs 33% of insects and 7% of fungi)
  • I know little of protozoans, grasses, non-vascular plants, and birds and largely ignored them. 
  • I visited most in the spring and early summer - very little in fall or winter.
  • I visited mostly in late morning to early afternoon. The only night observations are via trail cam.
  • I did not capture animals (herps, insects, mammals, etc), so observations are only those of which I was quick enough to snap a recognizable photo, plus the trail cam. 
The Land
Rough sketch highlighting important features - not to scale
The land consists of 6 acres of hemlock and birch-dominated forest in Windsor NH. Natural communities include hemlock forest, subacid forest seep, herbaceous low riverbank, an emergent marsh (unsure which), and a possible vernal woodland pool. The plot is bisected by Black Pond Brook, which flows out of Black Pond.

Brook
Black Pond Brook flows year-round. It measures approximately 15 feet at its narrowest point and perhaps 30 at its widest. Depth varies by several feet based on season and precipitation. There is a section of emergent marsh with great diversity of herbs and shrubs. It is home to small fish, Virile Crayfish (Faxonius virilis), frogs, and salamanders.

Trees and Shrubs
The forest is dominated by Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)
Also present: Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus), Spruce (Picea sp.), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra), and American Beech (Fagus grandifolia).

The largest hemlock found had a diameter at breast height of 20.7 inches and the largest yellow birch 20.4 inches. Neither of these species is very good for estimating the age of a forest.
As expected in a Hemlock wood, the understory is very open with scattered Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum) and Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides).

Herbaceous Plants

In spring, Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum), Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana), Starflower (Lysimachia borealis), and Bluebead Lily (Clintonia borealis) were abundant in dry areas. Goldthread (Coptis trifolia), violets (Viola sp.), Yellow coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida), Skunk Currant (Ribes glandulosum) and Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium americanum) were abundant in the seeps.

In summer, Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Allegheny Monkeyflower (Mimulus ringens), Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) were abundant along the brook and Ghost Pipes (Monotropa uniflora) in dry areas.

In fall, Asters (Doellingeria umbellata and Symphyotrichum sp.), Goldenrods (Solidago sp.), Beggartics (Bidens frondosa and cernua), Water Parsnip (Sium suave), Rattlesnakeroots (Nabalus sp.) lined the brook.

Eastern Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), Intermediate Wood Fern (Dryopteris intermedia), Interrupted Clubmoss (Spinulum annotinum), and Polypody ferns and are common year-round.

Six orchid species appeared. In dry areas were Pink Lady's-Slipper (Cypripedium acaule), Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens), Checkered Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera tesselata), and Broad-Leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine). In seeps were Greater Purple Fringed Bog Orchid (Platanthera grandiflora) and Yellow Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida).

Mammals and Birds
A trail camera pointed at the improvised bridge recorded a number of mammals. It caught Domestic Cat (Felis catus), Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana), Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor), and Bobcat (Lynx rufus). I also found Moose (Alces alces) droppings, the jaw bones of a Domestic Cow (Bos taurus), and tracks in snow of a Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus). 

I neglected birds lamentably, but did record a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) who returned repeatedly to hunt in the brook, several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris), and three visits from a Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Amphibians and Reptiles
 
I identified 7 species of amphibians. Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) was by far the most commonly observed. The only reptile was a Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta).

Contributions
All observations were recorded to iNaturalist.
None of the plant findings were rare, but NH Natural Heritage's checklist does not list these species as occurring in Hillsborough County:
I contacted the state botanist, Bill Nichols. He asked me to create herbarium specimens next summer so he can officially record them.

Goals for 2020
  • Determine when the land was last logged/clear cut
  • Quantify brook width and depth through the year
  • Seek confirmation of vernal pool
  • Voucher the species occurrences for NH Natural Heritage 
  • More thoroughly survey land on the far side of the brook, especially tree composition which may be significantly different from the near side. 
*On iNaturalist, "research grade" means the observation is not of a captive or cultivated organism, has location coordinates, has a photo or sound recording as evidence, has been identified to the species level by two or more users, two thirds of whom must agree on the ID.

Note: I am an enthusiastic amateur naturalist, and I have a lot to learn. I am interested in any corrections or suggestions others have. Thank you.

Comments

  1. This is fantastic...and inspirational! I'd like to learn more about your map, was that done through iNaturalist?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I appreciate the kind feedback very much :)
      The map with the pins is from iNat, yes. iNat is great for maps. Their "project" pages automatically include them - here's mine (scroll down):
      https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/a-land-like-this-one

      And you can use their "Explore" function to view maps of your own observations or all observations in their database filtered in many ways. For example, here are all the orchid observations in New Hampshire:
      https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=41&taxon_id=47217

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