Pockets of lakeshore forest in the area of Dunkirk, NY

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Erik Danielsen
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Pockets of lakeshore forest in the area of Dunkirk, NY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Wed Nov 30, 2016 4:18 pm

While visiting my home region of WNY for the thanksgiving holiday I was invited by my friend Jon Titus (also involved in the SUNY Fredonia Woodlot report thread) to visit a patch of nice forest right along the lake's edge in the city of Dunkirk to measure a big oak. A winding path took us through brushy forest along the top of the shale cliffs that characterize this part of lake erie's shoreline. As a botanist, my friend pointed out an interesting native honeysuckle that's nearly impossible to tell from the invasive eurasian honeysuckle except in flower, among other interesting members of the lakeside flora. Right at the cliff's edge, we found the wind-beaten Red Oak.
The red oak on the clifftop- 55.5' tall, 11.6'cbh, 56.5' average crown spread. A modest tree but with lots of character and imposing within its setting.
The red oak on the clifftop- 55.5' tall, 11.6'cbh, 56.5' average crown spread. A modest tree but with lots of character and imposing within its setting.
After measuring this tree we continued on a bit, through a forest of mostly other red oaks, though none quite so large, with a stunning carpet of moss covering the ground- and stumbled upon a patch of forest just slightly further back from the cliff's edge where there was a collection of surprisingly old-seeming trees. None were particularly tall but the big Red Oak here and some of the sugar maples in particular showed signs of many years of weathering. This is probably pretty old regrowth that had some seed continuity with the primary forest at one point, as the species mix (climax northern hardwoods) is to my observations pretty uncommon in the younger regrowth of the surrounding area. Perhaps a patch that was fully or partially cleared early on, but never plowed or cultivated, and maintained as a woodlot. I only measured a few trees but very much appreciated the beauty of the site.
The big Red Oak with Jon.
The big Red Oak with Jon.
A broader view of the big Red Oak.
A broader view of the big Red Oak.
The measured sugar maple- check out the gnarl factor.
The measured sugar maple- check out the gnarl factor.
The cliff's edge just a few hundred feet away.
The cliff's edge just a few hundred feet away.
Sugar Maple
84.9'/9.5'cbh
American Beech
84.9'
Black Cherry
79.8'/4.4'cbh
Northern Red Oak
81.9'/14.4'cbh

I also visited a small beach up the shore a ways in Sheridan, where I took some photos but didn't measure any trees. One thing that strikes me about the many red oaks all along the clifftops of this shoreline is that they tend to have exceptionally dark gray bark that stays very smooth in large sections, and what fissures do form are even darker. Whether this is a variation specific to the shore environment or a product of the harsh clifftop growing conditions I don't know, but it's always been very distinct to me. The leaves, buds and acorns are classic rubra. I hope the photographs included here sufficiently convey the intense, but quite exhilarating, shoulder season conditions of heavy winds and constant spray that these trees thrive in.
Cliffside red oaks. See the upper trunk and limbs up close for what I'm talking about regarding the particular bark.
Cliffside red oaks. See the upper trunk and limbs up close for what I'm talking about regarding the particular bark.
A black locust that's grown "legs" as the waves undermine the short cliff it grew on top of.
A black locust that's grown "legs" as the waves undermine the short cliff it grew on top of.

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Matt Markworth
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Re: Pockets of lakeshore forest in the area of Dunkirk, NY

Post by Matt Markworth » Wed Nov 30, 2016 7:01 pm

Erik,

Wow, great oaks and great photos, the whole place looks surreal. Love the character of those trees!

Matt

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dbhguru
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Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:34 pm

Re: Pockets of lakeshore forest in the area of Dunkirk, NY

Post by dbhguru » Thu Dec 01, 2016 7:32 pm

Erik,

Love those photos. You have a real artistic eye.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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