Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An occasional sign of appreciation

 A frequent visitor and enthusiastic volunteer has begun posting signs (an example is provided above) along some of the trails providing them with designations to aid in orientation and recollection of location. They are small, tasteful, and unobtrusive labels that should cause minimal harm to the trees. We ask that the volunteer avoid posting signs on oak trees, however, which are particularly susceptible to infection of diseases, like oak wilt, after incurring even small wounds.

This volunteer independently contrived the idea and proposed his plan to me, and after careful deliberation, members of the SNRE Properties Committee and I have decided to tentatively permit the volunteer to proceed with his project. It is important to note that the trail names are not official, permanent, or endorsed by the University of Michigan or the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE); and, this should not be perceived as a sort of pilot program in order to decide how a trail-naming system should be derived or what those names should be. Although the Stinchfield Woods property is owned and managed by the University of Michigan, we encourage and appreciate the input of our visitors and supporters. However, any and all use of the property remains subject to approval by the Administration Office of SNRE of the University of Michigan.

That being said, if there are any questions, comments, or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at I appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Thanks to all our visitors and volunteers. I'll see you in the Woods!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Shout Out to All The Dog Walkers!

Although, admittedly, it is a poor scan, this is the reasoning behind the University of Michigan's policy on keeping dogs leashed on their properties. We just wanted to thank the many visitors who do follow the rules. You are helping to maintain Stinchfield Woods' natural ecosystems and wildlife-friendly environment. Personally, we haven't seen any woodcocks on the property, but there are plenty of other ground nesting birds, ground squirrels, chipmunks, mice, amphibians, and deer that thank you for protecting their nesting habitat. We thought a little support might provide you with a little peace of mind if you feel discouraged after encountering visitors who don't follow the leash policy. Unfortunately, not everybody realizes that the property is shared by all our guests who visit for a variety of reasons. Birders and wildlife observers, joggers and hikers, students and researchers; all using the property with different expectations and perspectives for how their experience should be while visiting Stinchfield. It is important for all of us to consider the impact of our decisions and behavior on the experience of all visitors. So, thanks again to everyone who considers the Stinchfield community in their actions and cooperates with the rules. The caretaker and his wife appreciate it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Great event at Hudson Mills Metropark

There is a really cool event this coming Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Hudson Mills Metropark in Dexter. They are giving a PowerPoint presentation about owls, their behavior, and environment followed by a guided tour to call and identify owls. They say they spot at least one every year! This would be a great opportunity for those of you who visit Stinchfield Woods in search of our resident owls, especially the barred and great horned owls. After attending this mini-seminar, one should walk away with a better understanding of where and when to find the owls; and, maybe even be able to call and "talk" with these awesome birds! For more information check out the Huron-Clinton Metroparks website (

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

FYI: UM DPS training with the FBI this Friday, August 10

The University of Michigan's Department of Public Safety (aka University Police) will be conducting a training seminar with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the Stinchfield Woods property this coming Friday, August 10. They will be running search and rescue type scenarios within the woods and realistic situational training. They WILL NOT be using firearms or doing any target shooting so there is NO DANGER to the public. All the officers will be wearing there usual uniforms and carrying their usual equipment for the purpose of authenticity. The Department has been using the Stinchfield Woods property for this type of training for years without any problems. The property will remain open to the public and all the usual rules apply. PLEASE be sure to keep your dogs leashed. If anyone has any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to let me know. You can call the caretaker's home at 734-426-4742. Thank you for the cooperation.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Careful of this thorny rose bush!

This is multiflora rose. It is a shrub native to Eastern Asia and was brought over to be used as "natural" fence lines, wildlife habitat, and ornamental hedges. In fact, the University planted multiflora rose bushes in Stinchfield Woods after they acquired the property in 1925 in an effort to create a maintenance-free fence along the property lines while providing a source of food and cover for birds to encourage on-site populations.

Now, generally considered an invasive species, you can find multiflora rose growing along many of the walking paths throughout Stinchfield. Like most invasives, it thrives in disturbed areas and tends to grow towards openings in order to have as much sun exposure as possible. This is why you'll often see this prickly shrub stretching into walkways so be careful not to walk through its branches; its thorns can give you a very painful scratch. I've been doing my best to cut the invading stems back from the trails and out of the way of passersby.

You can identify multiflora rose by the light, yellow-green color of its stems and leaves, its alternating compound leaflets, the feathery stipules at the base of each leaflet, and its recurving thorns (as seen in the third photo above). In the spring, they will grow clusters of five-petaled white flowers with many yellow stamens.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tree seedling survival research

Ever notice those little orange flags and fencing about halfway between the caretaker's home and the gate near the satellites? That is one of PhD student Ben Connor Barrie's research plots! He is looking at the impacts of the surrounding landscape on the growth and survival of 8 native and 2 invasive tree species in forest patches.

He has planted seedlings in 4 forests along a 40-km urban-rural gradient in Southeast Michigan (Stinchfield being one of his 4 research sites). Within each forest site, he planted seedlings along another gradient from the forest edge to the forest interior. So far, he found that invasive species had greater survival closer to urban centers while shade tolerant tree species (think Sugar Maple) had higher survival in the rural forests.

The title of his first completed experiment is "The Impact of Land-uses on the Recruitment Dynamics of Tree Species." He still has a few more years of research ahead of him he will have more results to share with you!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Thank you for your cooperation!

Over the past two years, we have attempted to enforce the "dogs on leash" rule. We wanted to provide safety for all visitors (both human and canine) to Stinchfield without scaring people off with our enforcement. We have observed a great amount of cooperation and we wanted to thank you for it! Your respect for the rule has not gone unnoticed. Please keep up the good work! With your cooperation, there will hopefully never be another attack or lost dog again! 

Annual events

We are often asked what happens here at Stinchfield. Well we compiled a little list to give you an idea of who uses the woods and for what purpose.
  • Friends of Stinchfield Group organizes an annual litter clean-up of the surrounding roads in April (all welcome to help out)
  • Boy Scouts have orienteering exercises multiple times per year
  • Soil Ecology, Woody Plants, and Biology of Fungi courses from the University of Michigan take annual field trips in the fall
  • A local church meets on Easter Sunday
  • Cross country runners from a local highschool meet at the observatory for group runs
  • Mushroom Hunters Club has an annual outing in the fall
  • Breeding Birds Survey is conducted by volunteers annually in early June
  • University Lowbrow Astronomers hold multiple public events each year where you can view the stars through telescopes
In addition to these annual events, there are multiple research projects located in the woods and students and researchers often use the woods for various educational opportunities. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The battle against Garlic Mustard...

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is an exotic invasive plant from Europe that has found its way into Stinchfield and has established itself as a pesky weed. Garlic Mustard invades woodlands, particularly disturbed areas such as along trails and roadways. Many people consider Garlic Mustard to be "Public Enemy #1" because it has been found to negatively impact forest health and threatens the blooming of spring flowers; plus, it is extremely hard to get rid of. Thanks to dedicated and thoughtful Stinchfield regulars (like Tony!) lots of Garlic Mustard is plucked yearly which is helping to prevent the continued spread of this invasive species. You may have noticed some uprooted green plants strew onto the trails-- most likely you see Garlic Mustard (or another invasive) that someone pulled out and threw into the middle of the trail so that  it won't re-root

This is what Garlic Mustard looks like at this time of year (Mid-June). It can be quite tall and it is beginning to senesce (meaning reach maturity and turn brown)

Someone plucked 10 garbage bags full of Garlic Mustard from the road going up to the radio tower.

You will also see piles of Garlic Mustard thrown to the sides of trails.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Passing the torch to new caretakers

After two great years at Stinchfield, we (Zane and Amanda) graduated and therefore must pass the torch to new caretakers. We have really enjoyed the peace and beauty of Peach Mountain and getting to know all the people who love Stinchfield Woods. Our two years were spent doing regular maintenance (removing downed trees from trails, cleaning out the classroom, cutting the grass, keeping up the house) and making long-term contributions such as invasive species removal, public outreach (the blog and Facebook), and the new map. It seems that every caretaker makes their mark on Stinchfield in their own way and we hope that we created a greater sense of community. Thanks!!

New map of Stinchfield!!

Finally, an updated map of Stinchfield! We used the iPhone app Map My Hike to re-map all the trails, which were then added to Google Earth. However, the accuracy wasn't perfect so we couldn't just post a digital copy. Instead we made this fun map complete with little cartoons of major landmarks! We hope that this helps you to explore new trails and discover new parts of Stinchfield. We provided a few laminated copies of the map at the gate on Stinchfield Woods Road, but we ask that you return them when you finish your walk. You may print your own map from the blog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I spy poison ivy!

Stinchfield is covered in poison ivy! It is a native climbing vine that can cause a very itch rash if you get the oil on your skin. If you do come in contact with poison ivy, clean the area with rubbing alcohol as soon as you can. Soap can sometimes spread the oil around. Drug stores sell a special type of soap that will get rid of poison ivy oil. And don't think that you are safe if you never got it before! I never had it before until last year. In the fall, it develops beautiful white berries. All parts- the leaves, vine, berries, etc.- can have oil. The photos below will help you better identify it.

See the vine on the tree? The vine branches out and can look like the branches are actually coming off the tree itself. 

This is a close-up of the leaves from the vine in the photo above. They are hanging low enough to touch.

There is lots of poison ivy covering the forest floor. It has three leaves: the 2 side leaves always have "thumbs" (those lobes on the sides). The middle leaf sometimes has "thumbs".

I think that the "thumbs" on a plant with three leaflets is the best way to identify poison ivy.

Can you spot the poison ivy in this photo? It is mixed in with another common vine that looks alot like poison ivy. Virginia Creeper has 5 leaves, instead of 3, and has little tiny suction-cup looking parts that grow out of the vine that helps it climb. Poison Ivy has things that look like roots that grow out of the vine and helps it climb, but has no suction-cups at the tips.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Breeding Bird Survey, 2012

The annual breeding birds survey was conducted by 19 volunteers on June 3rd. They counted the Barred Owls that we have been seeing lately! It appears that there is a low species count but a large number of individuals compared with their 15 years of data. The following is directly from their website:

"For two decades, volunteers have participated in the Stinchfield Woods Breeding Birds Survey by counting birds heard and seen on a weekend morning in early June. The count typically yields species from Michigan's north such as Pine, Blackburnian, and Black-throated Green Warblers, Blue-headed Vireos, and Red-breasted Nuthatches and Ohio's south such as Acadian flycatchers and Hooded warblers.
Year 2012's count took place on a pleasant, sunny Sunday, June 3, 2012, from 7 to 11 am. Special thanks go to our big crew of 19 volunteer counters.

Seen for only the second time in 15 years was a BARRED OWL, and not one but two owls, voicing a resounding "Who-cooks-for-you!" at a gang of harrassing crows, jays, etc., giving chase.
Most numerous individuals in a species were American crow (66), perhaps on high alert for the owls, followed by Black-capped chickadees (53), Chipping sparrows (50), and Eastern wood-pewees (47).

Holding their own in terms of numbers are PILEATED WOODPECKERS at 3, HOODED WARBLERS at 14, Black-throated green warblers at 15, Pine warblers at 44, and Red-eyed vireos at 53.
No species was conspicuously absent except for Canada Geese, and they are usually heard flying overhead, not residing at Stinchfield. For the second year in a row, numbers of these species continue to be low: Indigo buntings at 12 (average = 22.2). Wood thrush at 5 (average 7.6), and Downy woodpeckers at 4 (average 7.4).

Ending the day at 11 am was a lone Double-creasted cormorant flying high above our rendezvous spot, a species seen for the first time at at Stinchfield. After the count, Roger lamented fewer bird species than usual, and he was right. Today's total of 50 species was the second lowest in 15 years -- well below the 15-year average of 56.4 birds. In terms of numbers of individuals, we counted 807 species, the third highest in 15 years, well above the 15-year average of 755.4.

Please mark your calendars now for next year's Stinchfield count on Sunday, June 2, 2012, 7 to about 11 am. Thanks again to the nineteen birders who took part in this year's count. You made it possible for us to partition the woods into sixths so that we could take our time birding and enjoying the day."

Thank you to the volunteers! We appreciate the data that you gather! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Volunteer to help clean-up Stinchfield!

The group Friends of Stinchfield is planning their annual trash clean-up for the perimeter of Stinchfield on Saturday, March 31st at 9am. The gate will be left open for volunteers to drive up to the classroom located near the caretaker's home. Please volunteer to help keep Stinchfield beautiful! Leave a comment or send an email if you have any questions.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Glacial Remnants: Erratics!!

Ever notice the occasional giant boulder in Stinchfield? They are remnants of our glacial past- glaciers carried rocks for great distances and dropped them as they receded. Some of the rocks found here at Stinchfield are most likely originally from Canada. The granite ones may be from the Canadian Shield.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tree suspended on powerlines

As I'm sure many of you noticed there was a pine tree that blew over on Friday evening and became suspended by the powerlines near the gate. DTE was quite busy and was able to finally remove it by late this afternoon. I want to thank the people who reported the downed tree to DTE- we can always use an extra set of eyes.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The benefits of controlling Japanese Barberry

Research from UConn found that Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) harbors large tick populations compared to areas without Japanese Barberry. Therefore, the removal of this invasive plant helps to control tick populations that carry disease. This spring, we are planning another invasive species removal day where we will tackle some patches of forest that are dominated by Barberry. We chop them down at their base and then apply herbicide to prevent regrowth. Keep an eye out for an invitation to help us remove invasives!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Photos of Stinchfield

I often see visitors snapping photos as they walk through Stinchfield. If you have a photo you would like to share, please email it to me at along with your name so that I can properly give you credit.