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

New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff

The affects of climate change are so evident this year.

Tuesday 06/08/2010

I can't believe how folks just don't open their eyes about how climate change IS impacting NH. And it has never been more evident than this spring. I was at a meeting of hunters and fishermen recently where climate change was discussed. One fellow railed on how it is nothing more than an Al Gore hoax. Another, who sat right next to me, talked about hunting in New Brunswick a week or two before where "All the trees had leaves two weeks earlier than usual and the trout have already gone to the deep holes because the water has warmed up so." Then when we talked about climate change he said "I don't believe in that."

Back here in NH it is not just the oaks that have been hit hard by the too-early spring followed by a hard frost on May 5, it was 25 degrees in Concord that night. I have already talked about the dead looking oak trees. Fortunately as promised by a state forester new leaves seem to be popping out on most of them. The fruit trees, especially apples, were hit even harder. I cannot see a single apple on any of the trees in Epsom. The ornamental crab apples in my travels to Concord are devoid of fruit, even the ones in the city. The impact of no apples is going to affect all manner of critters this fall and winter We frequently see robins all winter now. I've often seen them eating the crab apples all winter long. When I was in Maine at my camp over the Memorial Day weekend I read that 90 percent of the Maine apple crop is gone thanks to the too early apple blossoming followed by a hard frost. So the economic hit of climate change will devastate the orchardists. YES climate change IS occurring right now and IS impacting wildlife and us.

And speaking of camp in Maine. The Holy Grail of Holy Grails was captured by none other than my four year old granddaughter Erin at camp. My whole life there has been rumors of brown trout being caught in the lake. This several hundred acre lake is pretty shallow, the deepest I have found is just 18 feet. Not much for trout waters. But still the talk of brown trout in the lake has persisted. I had never talked to anyone who had caught one, or even to anyone who had talked to anyone who had caught one. But trolling for white perch with my son-in-law Derek and grand kids Katie and Erin Saturday afternoon proved fateful. Erin told her dad she had a fish one. This would be on the brand new fishing pole I had gave her for her fourth birthday a few days before. Derek checked her line and there seemed to be something on it. Her first fish of the day we hoped. He brought some of the line in as she had pressed the button as we trolled and all the line on the reel was now trailing behind the boat. She started reeling the line in when he had it in a bit. When it was close he exclaimed "It's a trout!" And it was not just 'a trout', but a nice brown trout! The Holy Grail of the lake. We quickly snapped a couple of pictures and returned it to the lake. Now there is a memory to last a lifetime.

And the river herring, also called alewives, were in by the tens of thousands in the lake. Their spawning ritual of swirling gyrations along the shore sounds more like being at the ocean. The alewives have been restored to the lake after the last dam on the river washed out more than a decade ago. A dam powering a sawmill that my grandfather worked at much of his life. But back they are in unbelievable numbers. According to the alewife counter I checked in with daily down at the mouth of the river, some ten miles as the crow flies from our camp, they had counted over 100,000 fish up to that point. Bald eagles swept across the sky before camp heading to a tributary where the alewives were crowded into the small brook for easy catching. We did watch an eagle swoop down right in front of camp to pluck one from the water. Camp is a close to heaven as you can get here on earth as far as I'm concerned. Especially when Erin came running back from the swamp out back with a big bull frog to show off to everyone. Life is wonderfully good.

Previous Note

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

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Next Note

The heat is back on and on a snake hunt this morning.

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