New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
Slowly sliding in to fall.
So, let's look out my window this morning. Yes, we have some color here on the hillside overlooking the Suncook River. And if you have not been paying attention to the views of our wetlands you are missing out on fall colors than came especially early in my mind. When I was heading to my camp in mid coast Maine mid-July, bang the good-sized wetland near my camp was already aglow in colors! Yes, I'm talking mid-July. The trees along our wetlands are usually red maples often called "swamp maples". This was a first for me to see that amount of color in July when you would normally expect it in late August. Just kind of weird to me. Same goes here in NH too. The swamp maples started coloring up way, way early. In a drive yesterday I swung by a local pond whose tree lined shore is completely colored up as if on fire. My advice is to get outside right now and start enjoying our fall colors. I bet the next hard rain or windstorm is going to be stripping the colorful leaves early too.
And what a summer it was. Just to think back on the summer that was one of the wettest on record. July was a washout. First cut of hay across the road from me came the latest ever in late July. Just two weeks ago the local farmer was back at it for a second cut. Even though we had what seemed like perfect haying weather for several days I saw that he left windrows of hay in his fields. When I talked to him the other day, he said the ground is so wet even with perfect haying weather the hay didn't dry enough to bale as it was setting on wet ground. In fact, he said nearly half the hay he baled was too wet and was tossed. I'm thinking hay is already ten dollars a bale and with the lack of local hay this year the price will no doubt take an increase. I'm betting on some lean horses this winter. I hope not.
We've been in the big late summer into fall mass migration of birds the last several weeks. Many of our hawks head south in the teens of September. I'm still see a few lingering Monarchs heading south. I put my phone on the Merlin app when I walk out to get the paper in the morning to see who is about. Most are out of my old deaf hearing abilities, but my phone tells me who is about. This morning's stroll out to the paper box had more than usual I've had lately. This included a crow, tufted titmouse, phoebe (who I have been still seeing about still) a blue jay, and surprisingly, a blackpoll warbler.
Now warblers and phoebes are pretty much insect eaters. They normally skedaddle before a frost wipes the sky clear of insects for them to eat. Nope. No frost here yet mid-NH here at the end of September. How our warming climate is changing things, even bird migration it seems.
There's no better time to be outside in New Hampshire than in the fall.
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A summer blast from a summer past after last summer's overcast.