Saturday, October 22, 2011

Map of Stinchfield

A very generous "regular" to Stinchfield gave me this updated map. I am hoping to GPS the trails and make a new map so check the blog in the future!

Trail Maintenance

Today my wife and I cleared 4 trees that fell across trails. The one pictured below was quite the job since the crown of an oak was blocking the trail.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Old observatories

Lots of visitors to Stinchfield ask me questions about the old observatories and the other facilities. Though I don't know much about them, I can tell you that neither of the observatories near the caretaker's home are operational. I found a website that discusses the history of the observatories but have not verified if this information is true.
The website says that the smaller, older observatory was built in 1950 along with the caretaker's home. The larger, newer observatory was built in 1969.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Soil Ecology Class Field Trip

Students from the Soil Ecology course at University of Michigan spent a few hours this past week looking at 6 different soil pits in Stinchfield Woods. Stinchfield Woods (aka Peach Mountain) is a kame-complex glacial landform that is mainly composed of calcareous parent material. Glaciers act like conveyor belts moving material from one place to another. The calcareous parent material (or geologic material that soil is formed from) was once in the bed of the ancient Lake Erie, but glaciers transported it here.

The 6 soil pits are located on different slope positions and aspects (meaning compass direction). The students got to observe that the soil at the top of a slope and facing the sun (southwestern aspect) are the least developed and most shallow, while the soil that is near the bottom of a slope and shaded from the sun (north facing slope) are the deepest and most developed. They also observed that the plant community and tree size was different depending on soil conditions.

The students took soil and forest floor samples to be analyzed later in the laboratory. They will compare this oak-hickory forest to other forest types such as a black and white oak forest and a jack pine forest.

Mycology Class Field Trip

On Wednesday, the students from a Biology of Fungi course at University of Michigan visited Stinchfield Woods to hunt for mushrooms. They split up into 2 groups: one collected in the conifer forest and the other group collected in the mixed hardwood forest. After about an hour of collecting, they headed back to the classroom to talk about the different mushrooms that can be found in different forest types. For example,  Hen-of-the-Woods (Grifola frondosa) is only found in the hardwood forest and the class only found Lactarius mushrooms in the conifer forest.

This strange looking object is a fungi "egg," which a stinkhorn mushroom will hatch out of. What a great find!