New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
Restless birds abound
Have you been watching the birds lately? It sure looks to me like they are getting restless. Yes itchy to head south. And birds sure do. They become way more active while preparing to head south. I first noticed it Sunday at my camp in Central Maine as I was locking things up before heading south to New Hampshire myself. Right out in back of our storage shed the alders were quivering with movement. I moved in closer for a look and could see several warblers bouncing about the branches. Yes they looked restless. So how quickly summer has flown, no pun intended, for them. They just got here in May and now they are excited it seems to be headed south soon. Yes the first frost now weeks away will sweep the sky clear of many of the insects they feed on. So yes they are feeding up now hoping to store some energy for their long flight to some way off island or South America. Can't blame them for being antsy I guess.
Gazing out my home office window right now I had to do a double take. My several crab apple trees were loaded with blossoms and small apples a while ago. But I can't see many left on. Bad luck as something has caused the majority of them to fall off way too early. My winter birds need those apples. Though I have seen plenty of other wild apple trees with lots of apples. Did you know that the odd year is the apple year? Back in the 1980's when I was the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's first black bear biologist there was some interesting data collected as part of the bear kill registration form. One of the questions on the form that was to be filled out when you killed a bears was: What was the bear feeding on? If you looked at the results for a couple decades it showed that the even numbered years lots of bears were killed while eating beechnuts and on the odd years apples. This trend lasted for decades. And I imagine it still is the case today. Of coarse there was the odd thing or two that was reported as to be the bear's food at the time of his demise like cough drops, another hunter and other bazaar things. Kind of fun to see what folks came up with at times. So this being an odd numbered year it should in fact be an apple year.
I'm still see a pretty good number of Monarch butterflies about. After a couple of years of so few I am feeling better about their survival. I hope this continues.
And I am see good numbers of red oak acorns. Way back in the 80's there were so few bears south of the mountains that acorns were not reported as a common food. So no trend there. But acorns sure are an important wildlife food. From mice to bears and deer everything will be hoping to fatten up for the winter on acorns down this way. I hope this is a widespread acorn crop.
My garden is giving enough cucumbers and tomatoes to eat but certainly not enough to can this year. So in a way my garden is kind of a bust this year despite all my hard work. Good thing we don't have to count on it for our winter survival that our ancestors did. But my potatoes are plentiful so a plus there.
Kind of different here we are in late August and our nights have not really cooled off yet. I drove to meet friends in South Boston yesterday afternoon and my cars gauge was reading 95 when I got there; After dribbling through Boston in traffic early afternoon. Wasn't expecting that. Luckily a nice breeze when we sat ocean side in South Boston. Another scorcher here today. Sure wish it made my garden produce better. Holding on to summer for now. This heat wave is not making me feel restless though. Just the opposite.
Talking to New Hampshire Moose (VIDEO)
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read the note
Walking with New Hampshire black bear cubs. (VIDEO)