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Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally

ERIC P. ORFF
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer - Wildlife Photographer
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983
nhfishandwildlif@aol.com

NH Nature

New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff

Wednesday 04/16/2008 A sole spotted salamander and wood frogs quaking in Concord.

Ah, spring is sweeping across the face of New Hampshire. Like the boiling of maple sap, life is bubbling up all around. And speaking of maple sap, I went with my daughter, her husband and their two daughters to a maple sap boiling operation two Saturdays ago. How my granddaughters dove into the syrup on snow. For 22 month old Erin this was a first. How wonderful was the smell of the sweet boiling same. And there was plenty of snow in Belmont to drip syrup on to.

Here in Epsom my friend Rick and his daughter Kasey called me to say they were going to do a sweep of the local roads for spotted salamanders in last Friday nights rain. I begged off the late night cruise as the woods are still full of snow and certainly no self respecting salamander would be moving yet. But I was wrong. In their two mile search they came across one fat salamander just up the road from my house. But I'm betting the next nightly rain may be "the big night" despite the piles of snow around my yard and plenty left in the woods in places. But I'm still not certain as I a hike into Bear Brook Sate Park yesterday I sank up to my knees when I stepped of the well packed snow machine trail for a test of the snow depth. And since my annual salamander census is up the hill where there is usually more snow, it could still be another week before the big night. It all depends on how much snow melts over the next few days of expected 70's. We are right on the edge of this big migration of spotted salamanders locally.

My daughter called me Saturday evening just after I left her house in Concord. Wood frogs were quaking in the vernal pond just off her back yard. Another unexpected event as I had looked out into her yard and the woods are still completely white with snow. The pond opened up last week. How amazing it is that wood frogs can some how thaw, as they freeze solid in the leaf litter of the forest floor in the winter, and then are able to travel across the snow to the open water that has to be only slightly above freezing. Amazing!

Here in Epsom, Rick heard a couple of peepers last Thursday evening in a roadside marsh just south of the Epsom Circle. I haven't heard a peep yet. On Sunday the Suncook River peaked at low to medium flood stage.Here is a cool web site from the USGS that gives near real time stream flow data for the Suncook River from a gauge in North Chichester (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?01089500). The corn field in the meadow below my house was about half flooded. As I said there is plenty of snow in the woods yet and even more on the slopes of Fort, Nats and McCoy mountains that would be quick to melt if we have a warm rain. But at least for now we have escaped another 100 year flood that seemed so certain a few weeks ago with this near record snow on the ground. But below average temperatures has been slowly melting the snow and we simply have not had a big rain storm. I don't necessisarily think we are out of the woods yet.

Pairs of geese fly over my house daily the last week or two with that low guttural honking of just a chatter between the two. Small non-breeding flocks are more vocal as they cast about as well. It seems that a pair of mallards have moved into every roadside ditch and puddle of open water. Turkeys too are lurking about. This is dispersal time. Time for the turkey flocks to break up find nesting and breeding territory and make it on their own. I've had lots of comments from folks about a tom strolling through their back yards the last couple of weeks and have seen the single birds crossing the roads here and there.

Lots of wildlife is on the move including young beavers driven from the natal ponds. Mothers kick out their young at two years of age, often forcefully as you will find plenty of bite marks on these road killed beavers. Same for muskrats it seems. This sure is a time of year to be on the look out for critters crossing our roads. And best NOT to drive on rainy nights.


   

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