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

New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff

The color is coming back to New Hampshire!

Wednesday 04/24/2019

Winter just seems to always drain most of the color from New Hampshire. Sure there are crisp bright blue days of winter. If you look up. But the horizon is only white or gray and the few spots of bare ground are brown. Not that I don't welcome those few brown spots by late winter.

But as I now set here at my computer in Epsom I can gaze out at my neighbor's forsythia bushes all fringed in yellow across the field north of my house. And right here in my yard I can spot a knot of daffodils all abloom, all fringed with the brightest greens of spring. No doubt the magnolia tree will bloom in a few days as I have seen others nearby already aglow. This will soon be followed by my plum tree turning all white with the most pleasant fragrance of the year wafting my way on south wind days.

And don't forget to look at the distant hills and mountains as you drive about. They soon will be painted more hues of green than one can imagine. Colors are erupting from the earth all around us. Only to be in competition with all of the fragrances that spring brings too.

I got out fishing with my life-long friend Rick this week. For less than an hour in a local stream that has consistently held native Brook trout for the forty years that I have lived here. Yes they are all a bit on the , lets say, none trophy size, but their colors more than make up for the size that a native trout attains. Most are five or six inches long at best. Most are smaller. I rarely keep any, but once in a while bring a couple home to fry. The last few years I have wondered how any at all have survived some of the droughts we have had. Nearly all of the smaller local brooks have just about gone totally dry some years. No running water any way. Maybe a few deep cold holes allow them to survive. In fact the smaller stream I don't even fish any more. I worry that even just catching and releasing them may be too stressful for the reduced population.

Rick and I met in seventh grade in Londonderry. His family moved back to NH from Florida just after the Cuban Missile Crisis as I recall. So in the winter of 1963. No doubt we were fishing together soon after as we had the passion to do so. And he lived just a couple of miles away. So I'm figuring we have been friends for 56 years. He moved from Londonderry and built a house here in Epsom a mile away in 1986. Lucky me to have a friend all these years.

A couple night s ago I finally did my annual salamander/frog census drive on a rainy night. Well I missed the big salamander night a week or so ago. I waited up and waited up for it to rain, but ended up going to bed and missing the migration that likely happen after 2am. But in my route a couple nights ago I did spot a single salamander headed from the pond back into the forest. Plus 14 live frogs and four American toads and I would say at least a half dozen road killed frogs. I started my search in the rain at 9pm. Even at that I had three cars travel my three mile route in the 15 or 20 minutes I drove it. Around ten house have been built along the road in the last decade. This extra traffic I think has had a major impact on the salamanders and some frogs. IO used to count upwards of 50 salamanders crossing in my short drive. There has been fewer that 15 the last couple of years. Yellow spotted salamanders can live into their twenties so it only takes a few extra deaths to impact the population.
I'm finally seeing a few deer in the greening up fields at dusk. I don't know why I haven't seen more. I certainly expected to see more than I am seeing. My juncos are still here and have not migrated north. A few sparrows dot my lawn each day. No wren yet. But the houses are all cleaned up and ready.

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