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

New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff

A lady slipper walk on a summer's day.

Friday 05/21/2010

On my hike yesterday I pretty much headed off into the woods as the temperature was in the mid 80's by the time I could get away. I headed down into Bear Brook State Park, a frequent place for me as it is only a mile or so from my house. The Park encompasses 10,000 acres of mostly forests and I have combed the woods there for over four decades. I killed my first deer in the park in 1976 and was first in the park in about 1973 as I recall. I lived in Allenstown on the south end of the park in the early 1970's and have only moved 8 or 9 miles north since then. The Park is a wonderful neighbor to have.

But getting back to my hike. The woods were pretty cool yesterday despite the heat and I lingered there for close to an hour and a half. There I discovered patches of pink lady slippers in full bloom mixed into the forest floor with other flowers as well. Patches of pink dotted the floor under the towering white pines. Lily-of-the-valleys were in full bloom as well casting there sweet fragrance into any nose that bothered to stoop for a sniff. As I was bent over to snap a picture of a lady slipper what looked like a rain drop hit a leaf nearby, but a focus of my eyes showed a brown spring peeper had somehow dropped into my view. I shifted the camera for a quick shot before in flung itself off amongst the forest litter. Life can be so ephemeral.

One strange thing I noted was numbers of dead red oak trees. Mostly small under story trees, but also some beech trees and hornbeam trees with dying leaves. The leaves on some are completely withered and on many it is just the outer branch tips that are dying or are dead. My guess is the very early leaf out, some two weeks earlier than average, caught the leaves out in a frost a week or so ago when they were very vulnerable. I'll be watching to see if in fact all these trees die. Something real weird is going on that's for sure.

About a week ago I got out on the ocean for a day of deep sea fishing with my son. What a day it was as we headed out on Al Gauron's Northern Star from Hampton. It was an hour and a half of smooth sailing to the fishing grounds. We started drifting and fishing at 9:30 and right off my son and I both landed keeper haddock. And this continued for much of the day with a couple keeper cod in the cooler as well. We managed to fill our cooler with delicious fish by days end. My biggest catch was a huge wolf fish which had to be tossed back as the season was closed on it. What a great day we had!

My lilacs are going by fast and with temperatures predicted to hit 90 degrees next week things are going to happen all that much faster around here. I still have peepers calling down back, though more are now retreating through the trees surrounding my house. The toads trilled a couple weeks ago then stopped with the big drop in temperature and have not started again. Not have the tree frogs started. Or the usual green frogs and occasional call of the pickerel frog. The fits and starts of hot then cold then hot again weather seems to have the frogs all mixed up. I hope this year the toad breeding is not a disaster like last year.

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Reflections of wild trout and passing on traditions.

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The heat is gone, but the trees are still looking very dead.

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