New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
Birds and frogs and toads and more galore.
Wow. Just wow. Isn't spring amazing! Seems like everything is percolating right now. Birds by day singing and calling and dashing about. Look anywhere outside for a few moments and you will see something moving. Birds are hatching out their chicks by the minute. Which mean it's feeding time dawn to dark. If you are in the country and glance out a window for a minute or two you will see something happening. There is constant movement all around us. Let alone the sweet sounds to vacuum up as well.
And less noticeable, but it is still there, are all the grounded animals doing the same for their young. Tucked away in thickets or dens, are all their young of year, who in another couple of weeks will start venturing forth as well. There is so, so much going on all around us right now. New Hampshire is literally quivering with life.
I did set outside on my deck last evening. Just before dark a thunderstorm swept past to the north. Then a half hour later another to the south. Distant thunder. But what was thundering all around me were the tree frogs. The trees surrounding my house were filled with tree frogs. As they were nine days ago when they swept by my house on the way to the wetlands down back in the meadow next to the Suncook River. I figured last night's show was them retreating back past my house to the forest beyond. I was immersed in frogs and distant thunder. going into the night.
And the same thing is happening in our wetlands and waterways. Fish or frog eggs spawned a couple weeks ago are now hatching too. Untolled millions, maybe billions of new living things are filling our wetlands and waters right now. I did head up to my camp in Maine over the weekend with my son-in-law to open up camp and prepare it for the family for the holiday weekend. Well, he actually did most of the work. I watch well. I had read about the new fish ladder just completed to allow alewives to ascend to China Lake, not far from camp, for the first time in over 200 years. Had to go see that. And the ladder was filled with alewives. Such a sight to see. Alewives were also abundant in Camp Lake and the brook that forms the northern boundry to my land there. It's just something to behold each year. One female alewife may spew 200,000 eggs. Over 200,000 alewives run from the sea my Camp Lake. If half are females, then 20 billion eggs are released into the lake. Remember I said billions before. It's true. New Hampshire has several hundred thousand alewives return each year as well. So, when I say we are literally quivering with life I'm not too far off
You know it wasn't always that way. Pollution, dams and overfishing pretty much eliminated alewives from all New Hampshire rivers over a hundred years ago. Oh, there may have been a few thousand in the very lower stretches of the coastal rivers. It was the Clean Water Act of the early 70's that brought about our much cleaner waters. And it was in the late 1960's into the early 1970's that the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department began to build fish ladders along our coastal rivers and began restoring the alewives. Not until the 1990's were alewives restored in numbers to our larger rivers such as the Merrimack River. An operation still going on this spring. I couldn't help but think about some of the early New Hampshire Fish and Game Department fisheries biologist, along with some Federal Fisheries biologists who brought this about. Names like Phil Wightman, Bill Ingham, Jon Greenwood and Federal folks like Al Knight and Larry Stolte come to mind. Tireless workers for decades to make the restoration happen. On the eve of Memorial Day, I visited Phil Memorial Stone on the banks of the Merrimack River at Sewall's Falls in Concord the other day. A little soap and water and a bit of brushing brought out the letters once more. I loved his cackling laughter. Hey Phil. Thanks.
NEW HAMPSHIRE FISH AND GAME DEPARTMENT DEER BIOLOGIST BECKY FUDA.
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