New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
The thick summer's night air is filled with the sounds of crickets.
How quickly we have moved into summer mode. Hot sticky days and warm sultry nights. I saw in the news that we already have had 16 days of 90 degree plus days. That's above the normal summer average of 12 days. I'm thinking we likely will have at least two or three more 90 degree plus days making this another unusually warm (hot) summer.
This week the crickets' started calling in earnest. In fact right now, 10 pm, they are very loud out my home office window. A walk in the local hay fields around now will usually push a wave of crickets through the grass as you walk along. And it is the grasshoppers by day that are in abundance right now. They too will be flinging themselves off in numbers in any field adventure. And everything is going about eating them. From the local turkeys to coyote pups and fox kits they all take advantage of this abundance of protein to quickly grow over the summer.
We have had just enough rain the last month or so to green everything up again after our spring drought. Yes from fields to forests to wetlands everything is bright green. And it is not just the green things I have been noticing. But it sure looks like the berry crop is doing well. I am seeing lots of blackberries especially.
One thing that is missing here in Central New Hampshire is a good crop of wild apples. In fact the crab apple trees I planted decades ago around my house for wildlife have NO apples this year. It's the same with my mother half dozen apple trees around her house. Same for my pear trees.
In another week New Hampshire Fish and Game Department wildlife biologists, along with some foresters and other volunteers will start conducting the annual "hard mast" survey. Fish and Game staff will be examining red and white oak trees as well as beech trees to determine what this year's nut crop looks like. Plus other soft fruit like Mountain ash, berries and other nut crops are scanned and reported on. New Hampshire Fish and Game bear biologist Andy Timmins collects the reports each year. In fact this survey has been conducted a couple of decade along the northeast US. I think from Virginia northward.
A good nut crop means the deer here in the Granite State will more likely go into winter in good condition. For bears a good nut crop means more cubs will be born this winter and many more will survive. Knowing the food availability helps in assessing not only how well they might survive the winter, but a great nut crop means there will be some around next spring to get wildlife into the spring green up and for deer to keep them in shape for fawning.
It is not only the fruit and nut crops that I have paid attention to for decades. Everything. I mean every wild thing has cycles. From nut producing trees to insects, bears, deer, and on and on have cycles of poor, average, good and great years. This summer it is the wild flowers that I think are doing well. From Queen Anne's Lace to Black Eyed Susans. At least around here they are thriving. So that makes me thing so too maybe the bees are having a good summer. One thing you learn over and over again. Everything is connected. From bees to nuts to bears everything has its place and in turn influences something else to thrive or not. We just don't seem to understand just how connected we are to it as well.
Well maybe then comes along a virus. So just how superior are we now. We are all humbled by the tiniest of an organism. It has had me in hiding going on six months now. I think it is time for way more of us to start paying way more attention to our environment. You with me?
Oh To Be the Top of a Tree.(VIDEO)
Lots of crickets and grasshoppers to feed New Hampshire's wildlife right now. (VIDEO)