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 04/25/2007 Three days full of surprises and adventures with spring in full swing.
Monday I got home from work to see my thermometer reading 90 degrees. What a gyration in temperatures these last few weeks. Temperatures had been running 15 to 20 degrees BELOW average. Not to mention the long stretch of cloudy days which made the temperatures feel even more raw. And the record flooding to top it off. We had a 180 degree swing for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday into Wednesday morning.
Monday night we were invited up to a cook out at my daughter's place in Concord. Just so happens there is a nice vernal pool right in back of her house. And how the wood frogs and peepers were singing. Dueling frogs as it were into the evening with first the wood frogs drowning out the peepers, then the peepers roaring over the wood frogs. My son-in-law Derek had a nice fire going in his pit and we enjoyed the unusually warm evening listening to the fine chorus, much of the time with my three year old granddaughter Katie in my lap. Oh so close to heaven. She's got the wood frogs and peepers down pat. And geese honked at us flying over and the moon glow filled the sky directly overhead.
I got up early Tuesday morning and was on the road about 04:30 to get to my annual duck nesting plot sunrise check along Baboosic Brook in Merrimack. I arrived to the spot I have started this survey in the last of the darkness with temperatures in the 60's. Much warmer than I can ever remember being at this spot over the nearly two decades I have been checking it annually. Some years I have scraped the frost off my windshield when heading out. But it was a perfectly gorgeous morning to be waiting for first light in the woods.
The official start time for my census was 5:20 AM. Right on cue a pair of geese flew overhead. Since they were not on-the-ground or water in the one kilometer square plot, they were not counted. Nor was the drake mallard making an appearance a couple minutes later. Out of no where something swam up to the brook banking right near by. I thought "otter" but it was still kind of dark and I passed it off as a muskrat. But 10 minutes later right at 5:45 a pair of otters came out of the brook , not 50 feet away as I lay against the base of a big pine not moving an inch, or even blinking, despite two mosquitos drilling into my right ear and one on my neck.
The otters came out and began to rub their neck and heads on an 8 inch stub of a beaver cutting, then rolled in the leaves and moos and joss led with each other. One was a third bigger than the other. One urinated just above the stub, then the other. This was obviously an important marking spot. They both got into and out of the water a couple time and then both came way up on the banking and defecated. This went on for 10 minutes or more. Then they sensed me in the air with one raising his head way up to test the air then the other. They went into the brook holding their heads way out of the water snorting and sniffing and throwing a few plaintive barks in as well. I have heard otters baking at me before. I went over to check the otter latrine after they left. There was the 2 new scats and lots of old scat of varying age.
It was a wondrous morning although my duck/goose count was way down. It took a bit over 2 hours to cover the whole area this morning. All-in-all it was a great morning.
Here's what I saw and heard:
5:20 A close cardinal calling and a distant mourning dove and peepers
5:25 pair of geese and a drake mallard fly by
5:35 a song sparrow singing, crows
5:45 an otter swims nearby out of no where
5:55 a pair of otters come to shore, a wood duck calls in the distance
6:10 to 6:30 constant robins singing, blue jays calling lots of aircraft taking off from Manchester drowns out some things
6:30 song sparrow, red maples blooming
6:55 see a male wood duck in the cattail marsh
6:58 a silent goose drops straight down into the pond, never honks
7:04 a pair of geese fly by, goose in pond stays silent
7:10 song sparrow, crows, downy woodpecker hammering
7:25 to 8:00 hike back to truck, constant cardinals, few crows, lots of jets
I finished Tuesday off by driving to Groton Conn. with my wife to attend an evening banquet of the Northeast Section of The Wildlife Society. There were over 300 wildlife professionals in attendance from 17 states at this 3-day conference. At the banquet I received an award given to me by the New England Chapter of the Wildlife Society. What an awesome honor it was to receive this award amongst my piers, many of whom I have known for decades.
On my return trip today I stopped at a submarine museum in Groton. I have been fascinated by the history of WW-II all my life. My father was a torpedo-man during the end of the war. He was stationed in RI and affixed torpedos onto Navy planes. He was to be deployed on an aircraft carrier once it was built. But the war ended before it was completed. That started his career in the aviation industry that lasted his whole life. Just another side-interest of mine. I got to look through a periscope at the museum and sat in the seat of a sub marine pilot. Well, I've had a few real exciting days lately. Life is good! It's spring.
2007-04-18 I saw the bear, I saw the bear, and oh yes, an osprey carrying a fish too.
2007-05-02 Salamanders, frogs, snakes, ducks, turtles, a mink, turkeys, deer and an antler drop; Oh my!
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