New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
A Bluebird Day!
So, I come out to my deck this morning and throw open the thick heavy curtains covering the sliding glass windows to the outside part of the deck. Wham! Several bluebirds hanging from my suit feeder! You know right then that this will no doubt be a phenomenal day. How can it be anything else? What other wonderful thing awaits me? I wonder.
I went about filling a bucket with seeds for my platform feeder down back. For the first time I have bought a bag of whole peanuts and reach into the bag and grab two handfuls for the bucket. Then unceremoniously I dump it on the head high platform. And who is quick to arrive, but three blue jays. Another outrageously beautiful blue bird. So, one plucks a peanut and flies to a branch to eat it. Another grabs a nut and then heads off, and I mean way, way off, down across the meadow that sets at the edge of the Suncook River, and continues across the neighbor's corn field for as long as my eyes could track it. Maybe close to a half mile away. Yes, I do love my blue jays too. Such brilliant birds. In my mind I expect them to stash their cache somewhere nearby. I had not noticed this long flight to squirrel away a peanut practically in the next town! So, two blue colored birds already this morning and I got a chance to learn something I had not realized by observing it. I have long said I try to learn something new every day by my own observations. After all I am a scientist first and foremost. You have to be paying attention all the time. Stuff in nature is constantly happening right around us. It's figuring out where to look and when to catch that glimpse of nature that will go unnoticed by most.
And listen. Most of us veteran naturists know it will be sounds that will give spring away here in New Hampshire. That first chickadee spring call. Or a redwing blackbird call. Well, let's be honest, if that's your first sign of spring, you are late into the game. The wind will sound different in the trees come spring. There will be spring sounds to be gleaned for us listening for them. And true spring comes with a roar of Wood frogs quacking up a storm in some vernal puddle, that can be no more than a rut by some logging operation decades before
And here we are on the winter see-saw again. Woke up to two or three mornings this week with temperatures below zero. Then yesterday morning awoke to 30 degrees, or more, warmer than the morning before. This morning already mid 40's. Now we are under a "winter warning" alert. Do you feel snow? I don't know about you but when it is going to snow a lot we usually can "feel" it is going to happen. I don't feel snow today. Maybe the bluebirds have me foolishly thinking that spring is at hand today. But you should be able to trust blue birds. So no really bad weather ahead tonight. You should be able to count on a bluebird message.
Here's something I can't figure out. Not a mile from my house, runs a beautiful Native Brook trout brook. It's really not much of a brook. In my younger years I could easily jump it in lots of places while fishing it. It would require a swim now. But, despite the fact that it is very small and, as I said, we have had some really frigid bouts with artic blasts the last month now, going on for a few days each. This brook has not frozen over as my memory remembers it most of the last 43 winters, I have observed it. So, what's up down there? Is this another sign of climate change? Years ago, I made it a practice each winter to dabble a worm in the few ice opens along the winter frozen brook to lay my hands on an ice-cold winter trout before releasing it. Mind you none of them were over six inches long. True Native Brook trout. I don't fish this brook anymore because climate change has completely dried up this brook in three out of the last five summers. I can't imagine many trout survive there now and have sworn to not stress them any time of the year by catching them, even if I am to release them. Its' just something odd going on this winter. I have kept my hands and eyes on the pulse of Nature in New Hampshire all my life. That is not right in February is all I'm saying.
Spring is springing on us now