Valenti, December

Taylor Valenti

December 1, 2014

December Nature Blog

Blunn Creek and Word Cloud Analysis

Throughout my visits to Blunn Creek, as seasons changed and times progressed, it was only natural that there would be changes throughout the Austin Park. Many were expected changes in observations of the area, while others were not. As the season changed from hot summers to cooler fall days, there was an obvious change in the color of the leaves from a bright green to more of an orange-brown color. Also, the amount of leaves present on the branches of trees began to diminish as winter abruptly approached the area. The leaves that were still alive had mostly fallen to the ground on trees that were dying. Other trees had no leaves due to lack of heat and water as winter came. On weekends during some months, there would be present rainfall and high levels of humidity in the air while others were dry and hot. The weather went from being hot in the summer, cool in the fall, to cold in the winter as expected in most areas. Clouds during the rainy weekends were more noticeable and had a higher abundance. The water level in the creek diminished in times of drought experienced throughout the city and as rainfall came and “rains still pelt the fields” (108), it would increase. Overall, the water level was a changing factor in the environment; full sometimes, dry at other times. The presence of animals was also a changing element of the creek as the months passed. Sometimes I would be able to see or hear birds while others times I would not be able to. Also, during one visit I spotted a rabbit during my observation but never saw it again. The same thing happened with a turtle during one weekend. As temperatures decreased and the air became less humid, there were no longer any dragonflies to spot near the water. The sight of minnows in the water was almost constant until the days became colder and the water temperature most likely grew colder as well. The large fish I had seen in September never appeared again and seemed to had either died off or was eaten by a predator. As late November approached, construction began one weekend I visited outside of the park. This factor, I believe contributed to the lack of birds I saw during the late weekends of November because of high noise levels and human invasion of the area. Besides the construction, the amount of human interactions during my time of observations seemed to decrease as the weather changed. During colder times, I would see fewer people walking throughout the park and would hear less people. During November, the trees that were close to the creek began to shed their bark in a similar way that a snake sheds its skin during the molting process. Also, regarding the trees in the park, from the beginning to the end of my observations I was able to see the growth of trees on the downward slope nearing the creek continue to grow at an angle diagonally instead of straight up like those away from this area of observation. The Spanish moss on the trees was a big environmental factor and continued to grow on the trees throughout the three months. The litter in the park seemed to decrease as time progressed. This could have been due to city maintenance of the park or possibly individuals visiting the park being environmentally conscious and viewing it as their duty to clean the area. When taking a look at the class’s word cloud I saw the use of the word “different” was high leading me to believe others saw many differences like I did.

I noticed while looking at the word cloud for the class’s blog posts many similarities in observations between me and my fellow classmates. For starters it seemed as quite a few may have visited Blunn Creek as well due to the emphasis on the use of the word “creek”. If this was the case, they too noticed the changes in the water or made their observations near the creek as well. Overall, the class seemed to take the environmental issue of water into thought because the word “water” was one of the top words used throughout the blogs. The beauty in the areas of observations was noted by most students in the flowers, trees, plants, and animals that were seen. Unlike others, I surprisingly did not spot any squirrels in the Blunn Creek area. Before making my observations, I expected to see many due to being close to campus where there seems to be an abundance of squirrels. I also never saw a fox even though there were warnings of them being present throughout the area. With morning being a word used multiple times, I assume others may have mostly made their observations early in the day like I did. Fish, rocks, forest, and green are words from the cloud that greatly sum up my first impressions of the Blunn Creek area. I believed the area to possess a creek with fish, a rocky terrain near the creek and towards the drier areas away from the creek, a forest resemblance as you trail farther into the park, and green leaves on the trees and plant species. Rain was also highly noted in the blogs, it seems as though others may have observed during the rainy weekends in most moths as I did too; especially on Saturdays which appeared to be popular days for observations to take place. The use of words language and friends led me to question how much human activity was occurring in the areas of observation. The more human disturbance in an area, the less likely there will be variety in things seen such as different species of animals. Like others, I was able to see water flowing in the creek during my early visits in the semester, but as time progressed, the water began to diminish.

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