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

New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff

Another snow melting day.

Thursday 12/31/2020

Most of the local fields and lawns are snow free now. Under the evergreens the snow is mostly gone but there remains large white strips of snow here and there. This is not what a mid winter normally looks like in Central New Hampshire. My guess is that we are closing out another near record warmest years on record. Maybe not number one, but right up there. And a year of a drought. Which really started about this time last winter with a paltry snow fall. Then the drought stricken hot summer. I lost count but the best I can remember is we were into the 20's of days with temperatures above 90 degrees. I think the norm is around a dozen most years. And didn't the drought not only last through the spring and summer but it went well into the fall. I think it was late October before I saw the local trout streams running with water again. You just have to wonder what the real impacts were of this drought. And this was the second long period drought in five years. I think we had a drought for much of 2015 or 2016. I remember the trout streams totally dried up that summer as well. Hopefully the wildlife will adjust to these new conditions. So between this fall's rain and the huge snow dump mid December, that has now largely melted, our vernal pools should be filled awaiting spring. As we all are too. Won't the frogs, salamanders and toads be thrilled to find their birth places filled with water once again. I hope so.
The Yeaton dairy farm here in town sowed rye seeds on all his cut corn fields last fall. Boy did they green up and the melting snow has once more reveled the emerald colored fields here in town. Stew Yeaton said he wanted to help stabilize the soil over the winter and prevent its loss.  These lush green field are providing food for our turkeys now and I expect to see so geese feeding there as well. No doubt deer by night as well.  And haven't I been seeing turkeys everywhere I go. 
I did take a trip up to check out ice conditions in Lake Winnipesaukee a couple days ago. Well there was hardly any ice to see. I stopped at the docks in Wolfeboro and there was not a bit of ice any where. Even up that way the fields and lawns are mostly snow free. And to think that just two weeks ago this region had more than three feet of snow delivered in just one day. But its practically all gone.  
All our rivers and brooks went into a bit of a flood stage since the heavy rain on Christmas that melted off the snow. The Suncook River out my windows is still running high but the peak flow just barely overflowed its banking's. So really no big floods anywhere that I am aware of. Yes high, high water but I haven't heard of any significant damage anywhere. Certainly not here in town. It was good to stop and listen to the brooks running again though. They have been so silent for so long this year. 
Overall I think it was a pretty good year for our wildlife. As bad as a drought is for growing things it did make it a good year for our wild birds to nest and raise their young. It is the cold rains in May and June that tend to kill the youngsters off. The drought did impact the wild fruits like blueberries and such for the wildlife to feed on. This did impact the bears most as the lack of food had the bears moving about more than usual and thus made them more susceptible to the fall hunters. As a result there was a record bear kill of well over a thousand bears. Almost 1,300. This was no doubt drought driven. 
Wildlife remains more abundant than it has for three hundred years. More deer, bears, moose, turkeys, eagles, terns, piping plovers, loons and peregrine falcons than there has been in a long long time. I have been calling these "The Golden Years of Wildlife in New Hampshire" for years. I gave a slide presentation showing this for the last decade of my career as a wildlife biologist at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department until I retired in 2007. And since I retired the tern pairs at the Isle of Shoals has grown from a couple thousand to over three thousand this past summer and record numbers of plovers, eagles and peregrines just keeps growing.   What a time to have a career as a wildlife biologist in New Hampshire. I only played a small part in some of these efforts to increase numbers. The fact is, as bad as 2020 was for us humans, it really was a good year for our wildlife. I'm thankful for that. 
Wishing my followers a Happy and Healthy New Year.

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