New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
On the verge of some big wild changes here in New Hampshire.
While it seems we have been stuck in the summer doldrums lately here in New Hampshire I know for sure that things will be quickly changing. I can't say we are in for a cold snap or not, but what I do know is wildlife in this state is about to is about to shift back into high gear going into the fall. I'm pretty sure I saw my first sign of it a couple days ago. And it was as simple as a beautiful Monarch butterfly drifting by me. I have seen several Monarch caterpillars on the milk weed I let flourish next to my garden, but this was my first adult butterfly of the summer.
Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
I figured he/she was heading to overwinter in Mexico. So I looked up just how far away this small butterfly must migrate to its wintering spot in the mountains just west of Mexico City Mexico. Turns out it is about 2,850 miles from Epsom. Good luck to you my friend. So the cork has already been pulled from the bottle of a state that has held all this wildlife all summer long. Soon it will spill out and at first dribble southward in small numbers. But this bottle will be quickly upended as summer draws to a close with the sun arching lower in the sky and days shortening. Soon wildlife will be pouring out of the state on fluttering wings of butterflies and giant soring wings of our hawks. Yes in just three short weeks, the teens of September, we will see the peak of hawk migration.
The wren that has bubbled his call for weeks now around my house has flipped the off switch too. The young wrens fledge about a week ago. I don't know if this was its second or third nesting. Pretty late in the summer to pull off a new brood I thought. But there it was in plain sight and hearing. All is quiet now on the bird front. Save for some hiding blue jays and distant crows this morning. I have not heard a single cicada this summer. What's up with that. These hot near 90 degree days usually warms them up for a song or two. And today is another near 90 degree day. This might put us over the 20 days of 90 plus days for the summer. That's compared to a norm of 12 for the summer.
Most of the critters that do not migrate are bulking up as best they can getting ready for winter. While a drive around town will show us our neighbors who are preparing for winter with a stack or two of wood, it is less easy to see the growing size of some animals like deer and bear who are laying on the fat in preparation for winter. All of our neighbors are getting ready for winter. Maybe those in town without a stacked wood pile are snowbirds themselves.
All sorts of birds, ducks and geese will be whirling about the skies the next few weeks. I call it the antsy time for them. They grow anxious to head south and just seem to be darting about all the time. And late August is spider time too. Maybe they are always around, but it just seems like there are more in late summer. An early morning drive will reveal our fields covered in dew traced spider webs. Catch the light just right and these webs will dance with rainbow colors, each droplet a prism unto itself.
I'm thinking this drought, now calculated to be severe in much of the state, will mean some early fall colors. Not grand hillsides but patches of color here and there, especially along our wetlands. A walk in the woods will be sprinkled with brilliantly color leaves on the forest floor. You just have to look for them. Get ready for lots of changes happening very fast. I know I don't want to miss a minute of all that will be happening in the next few weeks. Look up, look down and look all around. The world of wildlife is changing right before our very eyes. Make sure you are paying attention.
Finally a break in the heat wave. But not the drought.
It's Fall Hunting Time in New Hampshire (VIDEO)