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

New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff

A little welcomed rain this way at last.

Thursday 08/12/2010

We finally had a decent rain shower here Monday night. My rain gauge registered 9/10ths of an inch Tuesday morning. Only three times since early May have I had measurable amounts of rain in my gauge and those were all less than a half inch. Barely two drips dropped out of my gauge from a shower overnight Tuesday. So we really are still in a terrible drought.

In fact the local farmers corn, the Yeaton's, looks to be only three or four feet tall along Short Falls Road here in Epsom. It should be eight feet tall by now. Last year as Stew Yeaton was chopping the corn I stopped to talk to him. His corn was half the height compared to usual and they were chopping half the norm due to all the rain in 2009. And this year it is the lack of rain that has the corn at half its usual height. The Yeatons had to buy 40 tons of silage last year and probably will again this year. I sure hope they survive these weather extremes.

I've been taking nearly daily hikes this past week or more. Usually at least 50 minutes long and often more. Last Friday's hike was very, very unique. As I was hiking along I spotted a good sized garter snake on the trail. And it had just caught a medium sized American toad. But the toad would hop and pull the snake along. I figured he would get loose. So I just hiked along and figured I'd see nothing when I walked back by a half hour late. Oh, not what I expected as now the snake had turned the toad and was now swallowing it back legs first. So I watched for the next hour or so. Now I didn't know that garter snakes would eat a toad since the toad's skin exudes poison. Hog nosed snakes are the known toad eaters. Not garter snakes. But this snakes was slowly, I mean really slowly, swallowing this toad. The toad was puffed up as much as it could be to make itself difficult to swallow. But the snake was winning. When the toad was a third swallowed and the outcome certain I headed home.

The red efts are on the move. That is the juvenile forms of the red spotted newts. Adults live in the water and lay their eggs there. When the young hatch the live for a while in the water too but then come ashore for a couple of year before returning to the water. This week I have seen numbers of them crossing the trails. Some times several at a time. Also new this week are the red leaves filtering down from the forest canopy. Yes the inevitable signs of fall have started. And these are not the yellowed leaves of the too dry birches, but orange leaves sprinkling from the trees. I did take my granddaughter Katie for my Monday morning hike. And she was the spotter that morning spotting 5 toads along our trip. What sharp eyes she has.

Previous Note

Bone dry brooks and a sliver of the Suncook River slides past my house.

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Next Note

Tracks and scats and what's on the menu this week.

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