Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally
ERIC P. ORFF
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer -
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983
New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff
Thursday 01/06/2011 A summer/winter week
Just a few minutes ago I moved in front of a window to capture the few fleeting sun rays strained by the leafless oaks across the road before coming through my window. I have always enjoyed the sun's power. One of the first chapter book I read in grammar school was about the sun. And so last week my wife and I took a quick winter break to head to Aruba where I got some real summer sun. Aruba has been a place that sun is just about guaranteed. Although upon our arrival a little over a week ago the cab driver said it had rained near record amounts since September and had just stopped a few days before. You just can't beat good luck as our six days on the tropical isle was sunny and mid 80's each day with a nice breeze. Except for a couple of 10 minute sprinkles and apparently some overnight while we were asleep we were rainless with beautiful blue skies.
We went down to celebrate the New year in a warm spot. I had no idea just what kind of a celebration the islanders do. Fireworks, I mean exploding shells filled the sky nightly. Our taxi driver said that the city would "Become on fire at midnight." on New Year's eve and he was right. The New Year is a much bigger holiday than Christmas. From the balcony outside my third floor room I could see much of the city and indeed not just New Years night but every night exploding fireworks filled the sky from horizon to horizon. Locals said almost every house fire off fireworks. And the biggest bang came the day after we arrived. The locals set off a huge string of firecrackers called a pagara to drive off the evil spirits from the new year. In the case at our hotel it was a hundred foot long skein of two million firecrackers. It is the smoke and ashes that are said to drive away evil spirits. So far so good.
Well we had a wonderful week in Aruba. I awoke each morning to bright sun and t-shirt temps and got right outside to listen to calling birds. Iguanas were numerous around the complex and for the first time I spotted a toad. But it stayed one hop ahead of me as I leaped out of my chairs to chase it as it hopped across a small patch of lawn being mowed. How the lawn mower brought out scuttling lizards and the toad from a small patch of grass and shrubs at pools edge. Surviving a lawn mower means moving quickly. Birds were plentiful as well. House sparrows and mocking birds dominated but smaller colorful birds flitted about as well. I sure could have used a bird book to ID some. Larger birds cast about the sky above.
Back home here the recent warm spell and rain has lefty just a couple of inches of crusty snow on my lawn with huge bare spots in the local fields. Not much of a winter so far. Funny a couple day before I left I was standing on six or eight inches of ice fishing then soaked for a week in 80 degree temps. I think Aruba is just about on the equator. The Suncook River has nearly frozen over but there are large areas of open water. Some different from when I moved here 31 years ago. Back then the river froze solid all winter and was used as a snow machine route. So far I would say the wildlife is doing fine. Some days my bird feeders are barely visited. Indeed not much of a winter so far. But spring seems so far away at this point. Doesn't it?
2011-01-17 In the depth of winter
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