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Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally

Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer - Wildlife Photographer
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983

NH Nature

New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff

Thursday 05/31/2007 A very eventful birthday, and frogs fill the night with sounds.

Well, today is my 57th birthday and the day I actually, and officially, retire from the NH Fish and Game Department after nearly 31 years of service. There is a stillness and peacefulness about this morning that is very refreshing. I am amazed at how different my mind is now that I have retired. Yesterday I was running some errands into Concord, just a stop here and there. Tasks that in the past would have me wondering if I shouldn't be doing something else with a day off. Retirement has freed my mind of those thoughts. I can do whatever I want and not worry about setting a schedule to get things done. It just seems that we all must hurry through life while working. At least I always had an agenda and get done list in my mind. Retirement frees up your mind of those things I find.

Last evening at sunset Rick poked up the river on his raft and gave me a shout to join him. Koko, my dog, and I did headed right down for a nice sunset trip the hour or so it takes to mostly drift back down river to his place. How this last flood has changed the river slicing away a banking here and depositing sand there. There are a lot more trees toppled into the river these past two years of floods than all of the 27 other years I have been on this stretch of the Suncook River since 1978. And lots of debris caught up in the many downed trees. From bits and pieces of buildings, including a metal shed, to just plain garbage, the shore and well out from the river into the trees there is a huge debris field.

But oh what a peaceful night it was to be on the river. Spring peepers still shrilled from the many coves, topping out the jungle-like calls of the tree frogs. A pickerel frog snored a call at us from time to time and a sole green frogs called out from one pile of downed trees. Close-in, several times, American toads shrilled at us. A bat or two were buzzing about overhead casting there unheard by us chirps into the darkening sky.

We gathered some wood along the last stretch of river and had a nice fire in his metal pit on his river-side deck well into the night. Here a toad just yards away kept us alert with his shrieks.

Everything, I mean everything is lush green. The distant hill sides are gorgeously draped in colors of green as are the fields. We've had enough rain to keep things growing great. Down at my mother's, and now my and my daughter's garden, the plants have leaped from the rich brown  soil. I even plucked a couple marble-sized radishes a couple days ago. The lush green growth shooting out of the dull brown earth gives promise to delicious and rewarding fresh vegetable-filled summer. Life is good.

I did get up to my camp in Maine for the Holiday weekend. A ritual now some 37 year in the making. Yup I have traditionally opened up camp over Memorial Day weekend and celebrated my birthday to boot. Only when we arrived Saturday about noon it was my granddaughter Erin's first birthday. My daughter, her husband and kids and my sister, mother and one of my sister's grandchildren were all up to Maine. And we were greeted by a lake full of river herring, or alewives, that had migrated the ten or so miles from the sea. The little brook we travel over on a class 6 road is a must to stop to see the foot-long fish migrating still further from the sea with hundreds moving up this brook you can jump over to the next pond above. A wondrous sight. Alewives must leap to enter the culvert to continue their upstream journey. Almost like salmon leaping over a falls, but a miniature version.

 By Monday schools of herring were into a spawning ritual along the lake's shore. Schools of a dozen or more alewives go into a swirling vortex right at the edge of the lake usually in some type of vegetation. It makes a huge splashing sound as well. These swirling masses dotted the lakes edge for a half mile. At the mouth of the brook I mentioned earlier there was even a larger school swirling about the sandbar cast into the lake by the last flood events. Here I got out and waded and counted about 350 alewives in this swirling school. This lake and river are closed to the taking of alewives as the restoration effort is only a little over a decade old. But what a transformation it has been these last years to see the lake come alive each Memorial Day with thousands of swirling spawning fish. The renewal of life was well underway as the sounds of spawning alewives spiked the warm afternoon breeze as we packed to leave camp.



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2007-05-25 It's a wrap! My career that is.

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2007-06-06 Super weekend of fishing and how the Suncook River is changing before my very eyes.

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