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
Thursday 03/01/2007 Turned around in a deer yard... inside a development!
Wednesday afternoon I sprang from the office to try to count a turkey flock I have been keeping tabs on for nearly 25 years. I headed out through the barnyard a little after 4:00 pm hoping to catch up with the turkey flock. The farmer said "There was a whole flock of em, about 50 down below the hill in the standing corn we couldn't cut last fall because of the rain." And that is exactly where I found "em" 15 minutes later. Except they were in the corn and despite my half hour of watching I couldn't accurately count them. I ended up climbing on the side of a silage trailer for a better view and had to wait until they headed towards the roost which was closing in on 6:00 pm before I got a good count. Still not a bad day to put 57 turkeys to bed.
I started out Thursday morning checking duck nesting boxes on Little Cohas Marsh in Londonderry. I was thinking yesterday as I made my way on to the ice, from a cul-de-sac right next to the marsh how many years I had been checking duck boxes on this marsh. It tallied 42 years. My folks moved from Maine to Londonderry in 1962 and lucky for me right near this 225 acre marsh created by a dam built by the Fish and Game Department in the 1950's. I was intrigued by the duck boxes I saw on the marsh and soon after I joined the Londonderry Fish and Game Club as junior member in the fall of 1964 I convinced them to fund a project of building and erecting more. So really began my career as a wildlife biologist.
The ice was thick and dark this year as I trodded up the channel parallel to the development built within the last decade at the marshes edge. And for the first time in over a decade I didn't break through and get wet. Two winters ago I drooped in to my waist and last winter I skipped checking them as the ice was never safe. But it always nice to get back to a memory filled "swamp" as my mother called it. There's just something about a swamp that I love. There were deer tracks all over the ice as well and just two open water spots by the almost invisible beaver dams that had my pulse quickening a bit.
Then I headed south in town to check a deer yard I had not checked in a decade or so. It is not far from where I once hunted ducks with a nice hemlock stand on the north side of a hill and a sunny oak covered south facing slope on the other. The last time I checked it I drove part way along one side on a fairly new road into a development. I planned to do the same, but one road has become a maze of roads the last decade. Still I parked under the now huge power lines and spotted the slope a quarter mile to the south I planned to hike to. I had no more hiked into the woods when I picked up a good deer trail. As always I followed the deer since at least they knew where they were going. I began to spot some houses, then lots of deer sign. In fact deer had raked huge areas under the red oaks digging out the acorns from under what was down to 4 or 5 inches of snow. Deer sign was everywhere. But every time I followed a deer trail I ended up in someone's back yard. Although a porcupine trail lead off away from the houses. The dark stained trail is typical of a porcupine dragging his tail. I felt like a rat in a maze with no exit! This way and that I hiked against a backdrop of laughing kids, barking dogs and people, all the while in what essentially is still a deer yard. Go figure. The deer have adjusted to this big development by living in it too. I can't imagine a garden would be all that bountiful for these residents.
I headed back north to Epsom to slide into one more deer yard by days end. This yard is mostly along a hemlock stand along a brook and not a far hike in. Here too the deer were out and about. But right as I headed into the woods from the end of another small development I could tell that these deer were being fed. All trails radiated from a house at the end of the road. I figured a half dozen deer with not a single bed in the hemlocks or barking. A pile of grouse droppings lay on top of the snow right under a hemlock roost tree. The tranquil brook was hidden and muted by a real thick layer of ice. Still a relaxing sight compared to the deer yard I had checked earlier in the day. It felt good to be back in some "real wood".So this yard has not been used this winter yet for cover despite the long arctic period recently. Sure enough when I got back to my truck around 5 the home owner came out to see what I was up to. He says he's feeding 5 does.
2007-02-24 Topping of the week with a flock of turkeys to boot.
2007-03-08 BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, record freezing temps!
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