New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
Where's winter now?
This week's rain here in Central New Hampshire has washed away the look of a White Christmas for now. With three weeks no doubt this will change. Or will it? Seems like we've had lots of snow-less Christmases the last few decades now compared to what my memory has stored for the 60's and 70's. Just my memory wandering this morning.
On the wildlife side of things, we've had a certain transition into winter. Snow or not. Though I do feel bad for the critters like snowshoe hare and weasels who are now sporting their white winter coats. I just spotted a junco out my office window to remind of the transitions that have taken place and maybe some more to come.
From woodchucks, and bats and likely most bears by now and frogs and salamanders and toads and snakes so many have slipped into their winter torpor. Seems like the woods are devoid of things right now. No startles of a garter snake suddenly dashing out from underfoot.
And the sounds of life have all but disappeared. It really is the sounds I miss most of spring and summer into fall. Then we do have winter sounds. The cold crisp air seems to magnify the sounds like a stone tossed into a pond on a summer's eve. The sounds of our forests are now rippling our way. I love night hikes this time of year. Especially on a frigid cold winters night in the snow. The creek of the snow beneath your feet and the pooping and snapping of winter hardened trees. Throw in a full moon for good measure. Delightful if you dress for it.
So our summer and fall birds have passed us by. Juncos and others have now arrived And maybe even a snow bunting with some luck. Or a snowy owl? So winter really is a dynamic time for wildlife. Searches for food under snow or ice by fisher, coyotes, foxes and others has me wondering how they survive at all. But somehow, they do. Most birds shiver all night long to keep from freezing to death. I don't know about you. I've not had much luck sleeping while shivering. But they must. All night.
Just casting my eyes outside this windy cold December morning.
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