New Hampshire Wildlife News
by Certified Wildlife Biologist, Eric P. Orff

New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff

Of turkeys, DUK boats and lilacs in blooming.

Tuesday 05/04/2010

The air in my yard is still filled with the sweet fragrance of the plum tree, but is soon to be overpowered by the lilacs which line the stonewall in my front yard. Spring has comes in so powerfully. In my hour-long hike today the birds were singing in full chorus my whole route. Different birds along the mile-long route I took along a forested road. It was just me alone with Nature as usual. Seldom do I meet others in my weekly walks. Perfect. Last week's wind has scattered my path with rows of rust colored white pine cones. More cones than I can ever remember before. And sure enough off into the woods under the pines are piles of the remnants of the cones stored by the red squirrels. New yesterday and more so today at the house is the call of tree frogs (trrrrrrrrrrrr) from the pines and oaks surrounding me. I think they are a full two weeks early. Today it is in the mid 70's, but very humid, bringing me a sweaty brow my whole walk. But not as hot as Saturday and Sunday which nearly hit 90 degrees on my thermometers. In fact according to the TV weatherman last night both March and April were warmer than any since records have been kept beginning in the 1860's. Yes this has been a very warm, and early spring.

Today is the opening day of the NH turkey season. I'm not much of a turkey hunter myself as I preferred catching them over my career as a wildlife biologist. I did spot a few in a field nearby a couple of days ago. I've had lots of "turkey experiences". Going back to the early 1980's, when I was still in the Fish and Game HQ in Concord. It was the release of birds over this way that came to my mind as I watched these birds. Turkey biologist Ted Walski would capture some over along the Connecticut River and ship them to Concord. My job was to release them at selected sites. One of those sites was on Upper City Road in Pittsfield/Loudon. Although I played just a small part in restoring turkeys locally it was a great pleasure to do so. So I looked at these birds wondering if they are descendents of those I released so long ago. Probably they are. Then there was the turkey I cornered in Manchester and scooped out of the air with a net as it tried to escape the corner I had forced it into. Hey shooting a turkey with a shotgun is just too easy for me. I like capturing them alive by scooping them out of the sky!

Last Monday my daughter, her husband and two girls invited me to join them in Boston to go on a DUK boat tour. Now I'm not much on Boston personally. I rarely go there except to Logan for a winter flight to somewhere else. My family did live there in 1955 for about a year when my father worked for American Airlines before we got back to Maine. I hated it then and I still hate it. Then there was that Parochial kindergarten. Truth is, I would head off to school with my brother and sister and simply divert to the playground all alone and wait for the school to let out and go home with the crowd. Some weeks went by before the nun that was my teacher ran into my sister and said "Where is your brother? I thought you had moved." And so I was found out and ended up back in school a while. My parents paid me to go. A penny a day as I recall.

But this trip was much more fun than school. What a great tour on the DUK boat. And we walked around town a bit too. It was on the tour while we were in "boat mode" that the driver pointed out the female goose setting on her eggs in a flower pot at rivers edge. Apparently an annual thing the last few years. How the wildlife has learned to survive in the city. My granddaughters both got to "drive" the DUK boat while afloat.

I've have peas and radishes up in the garden with it about half planted for the summer. The soil is actually quite dry for this time of year. This afternoon's downpour was a welcome sight for me. The local dairy farmer is getting his corn in the ground as well. Most trees are fully leaved out. This is over a week early. And yes my lilacs are in bloom. Glory, glory, glory life is so sweet this time of year. Don't forget to use your nose to take in this spring as well. Stop and soak in spring before it disappears!

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