Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally
ERIC P. ORFF
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer -
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983
New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff
Tuesday 12/28/2004 The big chill was back.
My thermometer was pegged at zero this morning.... again. But now the wind is out of the southwest with a quick rise in temperatures on the way. The three or four inches of snow will likely be nearly gone in the next couple of days of moderating temperature. That's fine with me. Although I would like to keep the ice that has formed.
Most years I begin to do my annual wood duck box cleaning the week after Christmas. At least on the smaller ponds. I like to actually get on to the ice when just three or four inches has formed and before it is covered with snow. That way I can "read" the ice and look for weak areas. Even on the smaller beaver ponds there are currents and spring holes that have dramatically thinner ice. Snow free clear ice lets me look at the ice I am about to walk on and literally move around the weaker ice. A talent I have picked up by experience. That is, falling through the ice plenty of times over the last thirty plus years. All the biologists spend days alone each winter in remote areas checking duck nesting boxes. Why none of us hasn't drowned, I'll never know. It is risky work.
My assistant and I normally check about 200 wood duck nesting boxes in the southeast section of New Hampshire as part of our annual Fish and Game Department duties. While we had and estimated 19,000 pairs of nesting wood duck pairs last spring, and likely a similar number of cavity nesting hooded mergansers, only a small percentage use the boxes. But, checking them from year to year, as has been done for over a half century, gives the Department a gauge of duck nesting success. Especially wood ducks versus hooded mergansers. I built and erected my first wood duck boxes in 1965 and placed them on Little Cohas Marsh in Londonderry. The Londonderry Fish and Game Club, which I joined as a junior member in 1964 at age 14, provided the funding for the material. I have had the pleasure of checking boxes on this marsh ever since.
The fickle weather has not really settled into a true winter pattern yet. Interestingly when I had a phone interview last September or October by another outdoor writer, I predicted a snowless Christmas and a fickle fall. I also predicted that the first substantial snowfall to stay would occur on or about January 12th. We'll see. But since summer, our weather pattern has been ruled by a strong upper air high in the mid Atlantic. If my memory serves me correct, it is not until mid January that it changes based on the three or four episodes I can remember in the last 25 years. So look for staying snow south of Winnipesaukee and East of the Merrimack River in mid January. That's my prediction and I'm sticking to it!
2004-12-22 Oh deer!