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
Wednesday 03/14/2007 Thank you Rokon and spring robins roaming.
It's spring, it's spring, it really is spring.
I actually had two clear signs today, besides all afternoon a 70 plus degree breeze bathed my face. I saw and heard my first red-winged blackbird this morning. I poked my head out on my deck early, but heard none here in Epsom, but my trip to the office in Durham provided my first red-wing of the year. The fields have sloughed off their snow in Durham this week. It looks so sweet there. This afternoon in my travels I saw several flocks of restless robins. Not the wintering robins that have been staying in NH the last decade or more. These robins sit about and usually are foraging flitting this way and that. These were restless roaming robins today. The flit about with a purpose, usually from tree to ground, and mostly in the same direction. Not always north but they have a determined look about them. I bet they are migrants in any case.
I was later than I had planned getting out to do my annual wood duck nest boxes well into the bowls of Bear Brook State Park. I switched out the four-wheeler in the back of my Fish and Game truck for the old Rokon two-wheel drive bike I keep handy. I was a bit nervous about the ice conditions and figured I had a much better chance of fishing the Rokon out of the marsh if I should drop in. Plus the big wheels are supposed to make it float. I nearly tested them a few times today.
It was kind of weird heading down Podunk Road from the cross-county sky parking area. It had to be in the 70's by mid afternoon. Of coarse the road down was packed snow and ice with a river of water flowing on the top on all the hills. Ever tried riding a bike on ice? Let alone wet ice. But for the most part the Rokon hung on straight and true. I used my legs as outriggers to keep from spilling much of the trip. That worked great until I actually was on the ice way down at Hall Mountain Marsh. It wasn't long before my out riggers were filled with an icy slush mixture. My feet were numb in minutes. There was 6 to 8 inches of slushy ice on top of pretty good ice. Still my heart was in my throat most of the afternoon. Hall Mountain ice always has holes from springs or something and the water melting on top of the ice was creating big holes where it poured down through holes and cracks. It definitely was a scary place today.
I can tell you I was on the throttle the whole time and had the duck boxes checked there in a splash. Yes a splash. It seemed more like I was in a motor boat not a bike as both tires through out a wake of slushy water as I sped across the ice. By the time I got off Hall Mountain Marsh my mouth was pasty from nerves. I took a few good slugs of water to gain my confidence again as I headed down the hill to Hayes Marsh.
Hayes Marsh had less slush, but there are several channels of current with open water, or very black looking ice, that had me zigzagging about trying not to drop in. Actually when I was heading off the ice, back tracking my trail, I saw where I had actually broke through pretty good on my way out but it must have broke just as I got across the weak spot and I hadn't noticed. The boxes as usual had about half successful use by either wood ducks or hooded mergansers. There also was a mud daubers wasp nest and larvae in one box. Here was a bunch of insects surviving the extremely cold winter all snug in a duck box. I put them back as best I could. There is one real old duck box at Hayes. It has been there the 20 or so years I have been checking them at Hayes. It is a small one, the size that Fish and Game put up in the 1950's. I couldn't help but snap a picture of this duck box nearly as old as me, with my wonderful Rokon in the foreground. I can tell you one thing, that Rokon had me skimming over some pretty thin ice today and brought me back out with just some frozen feet. My heart rate sure dropped a bit when I finally got off the ice around 5:30 and headed back to my truck. That's an awful long ways out into 10,000 acres of wilderness to be taking a swim alone, polar bear style. But I survived it another year. Life on the edge is a very interesting place at times. It sure does make you appreciate mud dauber wasps and spring robins!
2007-03-08 BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, record freezing temps!
2007-03-21 Spring break, NOT, a break from spring though.