Something Wild

By Something Wild

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Episode Date
Something Wild: Finding Peace in Nature
The past couple of weeks have been weird. Daily life changed gradually, then all at once. We now find ourselves at home practicing our best “social distancing” protocols. Incredible technology allows us to stay connected, and that’s fantastic. But it’s ok to put the phone down. It’s ok to turn down the news from time to time, and take a long walk outside in nature. This week, I took my own advice. Amidst the simple beauty of nature, I draw one deep breath… and then another. In the forest, I glimpse a furtive movement - beyond the shoulder of the rural, dirt road. One handsome squirrel sits perched on a fallen log, slowly twirling a hemlock cone in its forepaws. In the warm morning sunlight, he yawns…unimpressed with my presence. In his narrow economy, it’s spring and the kitchen larder of conifer cone seeds is running low. Above me, a March wind coaxes a flock of bluebirds to an open, sodden pasture. Springtime arrives this year, just as the bluebirds do– hopeful, tentative, uncertain.
Mar 27, 2020
Something Wild: The Tracker
Expert wildlife tracker Susan Morse is A LOT of things: A life-long naturalist…a Shakespearian scholar…an award winning photographer. What she is not…is easy to get a hold of. So with some persistence and a little luck, Something Wild's Dave Anderson and Chris Martin tracked Sue down a few weeks back, before her busy season kicked into high gear. Which is right about now (late winter) as Sue leads dozens of programs across New England and beyond—teaching everyday people about wildlife tracking and habitat monitoring techniques. Aptly named Keeping Track , Sue's program focuses on key species like bobcat, black bear, otter, fisher, and moose-- mammals thought to be really important within New England's various habitats, and the corridors that connect them. Such wildlife corridors can be found along ridgelines, and around the edge of wetlands--and this knowledge is key to tracking wildlife successfully. When Sue Morse is teaching a tracking class, they're "not just blindly walking down
Feb 28, 2020
Something Wild: Photosynthesis in Winter
It’s stick season in New Hampshire; the leaves are gone, our landscape exposed; a white nivean blanket covers everything you see. Our trees are dormant. Aren’t they? To look at them, it wouldn’t seem that trees aren’t doing much right now. But it turns out there’s more going on than meets the eye. The phenomenon of photosynthesis is well documented, we all know that plants use their leaves to convert sunlight into sugar, or carbohydrates. But that’s not the only place photosynthesis happens. “Photosynthesis can happen in plant tissues other than leaves,” as Scott Ollinger, a professor of Natural Resources at UNH tells us. Though it is weather reliant, for example trees “can’t do this if the temperatures are below freezing for extended periods of time.” And those tissues other than leaves he’s talking about? He means bark. In woody plants, a corky layer of inner bark contains chlorophyll. When sunlight can penetrate the thin outer bark of beech or white birch, or the bark of tender
Feb 14, 2020
Something Wild: Flying Under the Radar
Sometimes called a Marsh Hawk, the Northern harrier is currently one the rarest birds of prey nesting in the Granite State. Unlike many of our more common hawks, harriers shun the forest, opting instead to hunt in wide-open spaces like fields, brushy areas -- even in marshes. And get this ... they build their nests on the ground . Peculiar preferences indeed, and ones that have made it a challenge for them to survive here. ___________________________ Flying under the radar is the modus operandi for harriers, both literally AND figuratively. They hunt for voles, snakes, and small birds by skimming the landscape, gliding low over the ground, zipping just above North Country hayfields during the summer, and slipping in and out of coastal salt marshes in the winter. Figuratively speaking, Northern harriers have largely stayed out of sight, and out of mind of wildlife managers...even though their populations across New England have been on the decline for decades. So much so, that harriers
Jan 31, 2020
Something Wild: The Deer Hunter
Dave "Superman" Anderson: Sitting in a tree stand in the icy pre-dawn darkness has become a cherished winter time ritual for me. I wasn’t raised in a hunting family, yet I live on a tree farm with fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and a backyard maple sugarhouse. Seeing and tracking deer is common. They’re beautiful, graceful, sometimes pesky… and very tasty. My decision to hunt is about meat: venison that’s clean, local, and grass-fed. It’s about forging closer connections to the forest where I live. And let me tell you deer hunting is NOT easy, even with the odds increasing in my favor. New Hampshire Fish and Game biologists estimate the statewide deer population to be more than 100,000. Meanwhile, the number of licensed hunters here in New Hampshire is decreasing, as part of a broader, nationwide trend. Dan Bergeron is a head biologist of New Hampshire’s Game Division; a department that works to manage deer populations. According to Dan, New Hampshire had 50,000 licensed hunters who
Jan 09, 2020
Something Wild: Citizen Science & The Christmas Bird Count
When we think about the kinds of people making important contributions to science, we might imagine someone in a white lab coat, squinting into a microscope, or pouring over reams of computer data. Truth is, good science can also be accomplished by everyday people-- citizen scientists-- volunteering in both large and small collaborations. National Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count, is a great example of one such collaboration. It started on Christmas Day back in 1900, by a n ornithologist named Frank Chapman . He proposed that rather than competing with each other to see who could shoot the most birds on Christmas Day -- a common practice in the late 1800s -- that people instead take a census of their local bird populations. Keene, New Hampshire was one of the places where counts took place that first year. Across the country, 27 people in 25 locations counted a total of 18,500 birds. Since then, it’s grown quite a bit. Last year, there were well over 25 hundred Christmas Bird Counts (or
Dec 06, 2019
Something Wild: The Standing Dead
Standing dead trees (often called snags) are common in our forests, and it’s hard to overstate just how vital a role they play in a healthy ecosystem. These gray ghosts provide food and shelter for a whole heap of forest critters; a total of 43 species of birds and mammals are specially adapted to nesting or denning inside tree cavities. But before a dead tree becomes a high-rise condo for a long list of species, it first undergoes a remarkable transformation. In fact, snags undergo a series of changes, from the time they begin to die until they finally collapse, and each stage of decay has particular value to a whole host of different animals with unique needs. First things first: decaying wood is perfect for fungi -- molds, mildews and mushrooms -- decomposers that soften wood enough for insects to start to gnaw their way in. Next, termites, beetles, and ants all begin to chew apart and break down the cellulose and lignin that gives wood its normally rigid structure. And once you
Nov 08, 2019
Something Wild: Erratic Cycles
Autumn in New Hampshire is a wonderful time to watch and observe some easily recognizable stages of natural cycles: hawks migrating, leaves changing color…bears fattening up as they get ready to hibernate. But while we tend to think of cycles as a circular, repeatable pattern, unfolding year after year-- we should note that there are varying degrees of “cyclical” activity that can be quite complicated. The main reason for this? Nature is filled entropy, or randomness. Political historian Henry Adams once said “Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.” Take for example, the erratic cycles of both the majestic Monarch butterfly, and the humble acorn. You might have noticed an abundance of monarch butterflies in your garden these past few weeks, and many more acorns underfoot. Both are emblematic of the dramatic variations in population numbers and population dynamics, and both are complicated by a lot of factors. Precipitation, predation, reproductive potential, what
Sep 28, 2019
Something Wild: It's All in the Breeding
A common theme on Something Wild is breeding. (Which is why we always sip our tea with our pinkies extended.) Seriously, though, we talk about the how, when and where because there are a lot of different reproductive strategies that have evolved in nature. Today we take a closer look at two such strategies through the lens of "how often": semelparity and iteroparity.
Aug 30, 2019
Something Wild: How Scatter Hoarders Prepare for Winter
You may be familiar with hoarders (not the TV show, but same idea). In nature, a hoarder will hide food in one place. Everything it gathers will be stored in a single tree or den. But for some animals one food cache isn't enough. We call them scatter hoarders. A "scatter hoarder" hides food in a bunch of different places within its territory. The gray squirrel is a classic example, gathering acorns and burying them in trees or in the ground. Not all squirrels are hoarders. Red squirrels are "larder hoarders." If you've ever been walking through the woods and a red squirrel starts screaming at you, it's defending its one and only stash. The same goes for chipmunks and white-footed mice. The gray squirrel isn't alone in the practice of scatter hoarding. Blue jays and gray jays will spend the summer accosting hikers, filling itself with as much granola or fruit as it can. They bring their bounty back into the forest and glue the food into crevices of the trees with its saliva. I know, who
Aug 16, 2019
Something Wild: Smell that Olfactory
We know…we’ve been remiss, and it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. Something Wild, as you know, is a chance to take a closer look at the wildlife, ecosystems and marvelous phenomena you can find in and around New Hampshire. But over the years there is one species in New Hampshire that we haven’t spent much time examining. A species, I think that has been conspicuous in its absence. Humans. So we’re grabbing the bull by the horns and digging in to a complex species that is an important part of the ecosystem. And we thought we’d start with a particular trait that’s been with us almost since the beginning: olfaction. The sense of smell among other sensory systems are relatively unchanged throughout mammalian history. As Nate Dominy, professor of anthropology and biological sciences at Dartmouth, says, “a lot of the traits we see in mammals are retention of those basic traits.” Dominy suggested our olfactory sense was really important to our proto-mammalian ancestors. Picture
Aug 02, 2019
Something Wild: Eye of the Turtle
New Hampshire benefits from the presence of seven different turtle species. This week on Something Wild we’re taking a closer look at two of the most common species you can find all over the state: painted turtles and snapping turtles. First off, we have to acknowledge that turtles are amazing, they’re like living fossils. Artist-naturalist David Carrol, has has spent a lifetime studying turtles describes them as "evolutionarily conservative." He said, "they go back to about 200-220 million years ago, and they have hardly changed at all over that entire frame. Meanwhile, flowering plants for example didn’t appear until about 150-thousand years ago." Carroll says that if you found your self on Pangea 200 million years ago you would have no trouble recognizing our turtles ancestors. These days they tend to be a little smaller. Snappers are easily identified because it looks like a lizard stole a turtle shell. They’ve got these long necks, long tails and a brutish head with a pointed
Jul 19, 2019
Something Wild: What Happens to Trees in Drought?
The specter of drought is often raised in these early days of summer. And for good reason, though water levels have returned to normal around the New Hampshire, state officials are still warning residents to remain cautious after last summer drought. And while we often fret about the health of our lawns and our gardens, Dave (from the Forest Society) wanted to address drought resistance among his favorite species, trees. So, we all know that trees need water to survive. Basically the many leaves on a given tree have these pore-like holes called stomates that leak moisture into the surrounding air. As that vapor exits the tree through the leaves it draws more water up through the trunk and branches, like through a bundle of straws. Harnessing the power of the sun, trees break apart that water into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen molecules; forming glucose with the hydrogen and exhaling the oxygen into the atmosphere. The glucose is what fuels growth in the tree, from buds to bark to
Jul 05, 2019
Something Wild: First Bitten
First Bitten is our periodic series at Something Wild where we study the people who study nature, and what set them on the path to do that. And this time around our two subjects under the microscope trace their love of nature back to their parents's nurture, specifically their fathers. Ron Davis grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Not a place known for for its lakes or streams or for vast expanses of wilderness; not a place you'd expect to find a future biologist. But that's where he started, "and because of the Second World War my love of nature became greatly enhanced." While Davis credits the advent of World War Two with his passion for the natural world, the retired biology professor from University of Maine, Orono points out that much of the thanks actually goes to his father. "He was a retail businessman and moved his family out of Brooklyn to the Catskill Mountains because there was a threat that the Germans might be bombing New York." So Davis found himself, a city kid, suddenly in
Jun 21, 2019
Something Wild: NH Brooks Brook Trout
The foam formed eddies on the surface of the pool as Stevens Brook rushed down and through this particular crook in the waterway in the shadow of route-89 in East Sutton, New Hampshire. Something Wild paused here recently to talk fish with author and fish historian, Jack Noon, who is unapologetic about naming his favorite fish. The eastern brook trout is that for a smattering of reasons. First it’s a family thing. Noon, learned to fish at the elbow of his grandfather, who had a clear preference for brook trout. But it’s the trout’s habitat – cold, clear, unpolluted water; that Noon says, “makes them the perfect symbol for New Hampshire past and responsible environmental policies. They’re just an absolutely beautiful fish. And they’re a native fish, too!” Of course “native” is often a matter of perspective. By one calculation, there are no fish species that are native to the Granite State. The evidence seems to confirm that the mile-thick ice-sheet that encased New England 12,000 years
Jun 07, 2019
Something Wild: N.H.'s Wildest Neighborhood ... Peatlands
Here at Something Wild we love all things wild (even blackflies !) but sometimes it can be helpful to look beyond a single species and consider how many species interact within a given environment. In our periodic series, New Hampshire’s Wild Neighborhoods, we endeavor to do just that and this time we’re looking at peatlands. Our Sherpa today is Ron Davis, a retired professor of ecology, limnology and wetland science from the University of Maine, Orono. Peatlands, as you might have guessed are classified by the mat of peat at its heart. Peat is formed from dead organic matter (leaves, branches, dead bugs, etc.), but that organic matter is only partly decomposed because there is no oxygen in the mat, or the water that you often find in such locations. The two most prominent kinds of peatlands in New Hampshire are bogs and fens. Davis explains that, “bogs are rather infertile environments. The plants that grow in them barely hold on and eke out an existence and grow very, very slowly.”
May 24, 2019
Something Wild: Warbler Fallout
As spring tentatively unfolds around the state, (and the more diligent of us celebrate International Migratory Bird Day - 5/11) the familiar nuisance of black flies also reappears. And as annoying as we find them, as we’ve discussed earlier, they are a sign of healthy eco-system. The presence of black flies means there are sources of clean fresh running water nearby. Black flies are also among the explosion of insect protein in the northeast this time of year, which signals the arrival of more colorful residents…neotropical migrant songbirds. One particular phenomenon that happens this time of year is called, in birding circles, “Warbler Fallout.” These active birds are tiny, between 4-6 inches long. And in many species the male birds are brilliantly colored. Migrant birds been trickling in for over a month now, returning from their winter grounds in the neotropics. Most of the warblers we see in New Hampshire spend those cold months in Central America and the Caribbean, and are now
May 10, 2019
Something Wild: Do Mosquitos Like You Better?
We often think of the “food chain” in the natural world in linear terms: this eats that, which in turn, is eaten by the other. But today’s subject proves that chain is a little more like a web. The species we’re talking about today feeds on the most dangerous game, the apex of apex predators…us. And the species that prey on us? Mosquitos, of course! We recently spoke with Sarah MacGregor, an entomologist and founder of Dragon Mosquito Control, help us learn more about them. We often think about mosquitos with a capital-M, as if there is just one kind of mosquito. But there’s actually lots of different species. MacGregor has counted over 45 species in New Hampshire with different habits and different habitats. There’s the house mosquito, the salt marsh mosquito, tree-hole mosquitos, rock pool mosquitos and cattail mosquitos among many others. While these common names refer to where you might find these insects, they also refer to distinct species of mosquito. It may be poor consolation
Apr 26, 2019
Something Wild: Balds Are Everywhere!
On a recent edition of NHPR’s The Exchange, Chris and Iain MacLeod, Executive Director of the Squam Lake Natural Science Center were on hand to discuss one of their favorite species. Chris marveled at how bald eagles are everywhere in the state these days. “They’re nesting in Pittsburg; they’re nesting in Hinsdale; they’re nesting in Newcastle.” And they’re noisy, if you listen carefully you can hear their calls all over New Hampshire. The reason for their discussion and the revelation that “balds” are everywhere are based on the results from Audubon’s mid-winter eagle survey. This year’s numbers show an extension of the recent trend of population recovery. As recently as 1980, you’d have been hard pressed to find a bald eagle in New Hampshire. This year’s count found 200 adult eagles and their young, plus another two or three hundred young eagles totaling about 500 bald eagles in the state. But, as we’ve established on Something Wild in the past, a population rebound like this for
Apr 12, 2019
Something Wild: Why Are Peepers So Loud?
It’s an unmistakable sound. One that elicits memories, sights and scents of events long ago. It recalls the joy of youth, the possibility of a spring evening. But it can also incite insomnia and the blind rage that accompanies it. Pseudacris crucifer is better known as the spring peeper, and for most people it is a more welcome harbinger. These remarkable frogs spend the winter under leaf litter in a state if suspended animation. Once overnight temperatures are regularly in the forties, they start thawing out and begin singing. So that ringing chorus is a signal that we’re finally shedding winter’s icy grip. We dare to hope that we’ve seen our last nor’easter of the season; and that warmer and greener days are close at hand. That hope manifests around the state on Facebook and Twitter (#peepers) – though not Instagram because photos of this tiny frog are elusive. It’s fun to watch the state gradually thaw from south to north, vicariously through social media. Posts always pop up first
Mar 29, 2019
Something Wild: Is this Salamander a Plant or Animal? Yes.
So much of New Hampshire’s natural beauty is obvious; from the top of a mountain trail, from the shore of a lake or pond, even from your kitchen window. You barely have to open your eyes to see it. But take a closer look, and beauty gives way to scientific wonder. That wonder may be inspired by the boiling of watery maple sap to sweet liquid sunshine; or by the majesty of an osprey wresting a writhing fish from a river. But keep an ear out this spring and you may witness wonder on molecular level! Listen for something you only hear this time of year, the first shrill of the spring peepers. That’s your cue. It might be raining a little – or a lot…it’s definitely above freezing – around 43-degrees. It’s time to grab a flashlight and head for the nearest vernal pool. Vernal pools, of course, are depressions that collect snowmelt and the run-off of early spring rain. Despite the cool waters, they are hot beds of tiny, easily overlooked activity this time of year. One salamander in
Mar 15, 2019
Something Wild: Habitat Hot Spots
As the snow starts to melt you might notice a stark contrast in the landscape. Maybe you were driving down the highway and noticed one shoulder was covered with snow while the other side was bare with a faint tinge of spring green shoots. The cause? Slope and aspect. Slope refers to the steepness of the land and aspect refers to the direction the land is facing. Slope and aspect determine how much sunlight a given piece of land receives. The landscape isn't equally endowed and that's most evident this time of year. The best place to see this contrast is an east-west highway. Imagine you're on Route 4 east. Out the passenger side the embankment faces north. It remains snowy this time of year because it's just not getting sunlight. Trees cast shade while the sun is streaming from the southern horizon. The embankment on the driver's side gets more of that direct sunlight. The snow has melted and some plants are beginning to stir. In the spring, the first places that green up are flat,
Mar 01, 2019
Something Wild: Sand Dunes are More than Just Piles of Sand
This week we have another edition of New Hampshire’s Wild Neighborhoods, where we take a closer look at one of the more than 200 natural communities you can find within the confines of our state border. Communities like the Alpine Zone or Red oak, Black birch Wooded Talus , but those are pretty rare. Today we’re heading to one of the most ubiquitous ecological landscapes in the world. The Coastal Sand Dune is found in nearly all latitudes from just outside the polar regions to the equator. But there are only a few places in the granite state that you’ll find them, and as you might expect they’re all on the seacoast. And there is a particular set of circumstances that are required for Sand Dunes to form. Sand and silt made from eroded rocks further inland washes down mountain streams that feed into ever larger waterways until they reach the mighty Piscataqua and Merrimack rivers. Where the rivers meet the ocean, the water suddenly slows, allowing that silt and sand to precipitate out to
Feb 01, 2019
Something Wild: Hiking to Escape
Over the years, we’ve spoken to a lot people – mostly biologists – about how they were first bitten by the nature bug. Since these stories came from people who’ve made a living exploring, studying and maintaining the natural world, they follow familiar tropes: like an unexpected experience or sighting, or the influence of a parent or teacher who sparked that initial interest in the outdoors. Andrei Campeanu joined us on a hike co-hosted by Chris Martin and Dave Anderson recently. He isn’t a biologist, he’s just someone who loves going outdoors. But his story starts out similarly…with a sort of family pastime. “Most of my family was of German extraction, so hiking is something you do. You hike. You go to the mountains.” Beckoned by the ancestral siren, Andrei’s mother took him into the woods one day when he was eight years old. “I remember she gave me a stone to keep in my mouth. It’s a tradition but it also keeps your mouth moist.” He later confessed that tradition might well have been
Jan 22, 2019
Something Wild: How Trees Survive NH Winters
Here at Something Wild, we don’t have a problem with winter. Aside from the snow and the cold and the freezing rain… okay, maybe we have a couple issues. But we have sweaters and hot cocoa and Netflix. Trees, however, do not. As the snow piles up, you may see trees bent over with their crowns nearly touching the ground, leafless and haggard. They can’t escape or hide from the cold, so how do trees survive? Just like any living thing, trees have adapted over time to deal with the range of environmental conditions thrown their way. In this case, freezing rain, ice-loading, or heavy wet snow. Trees that aren’t adapted to survive periodic ice loading don’t live here. We don’t find trees that can’t cope with heavy snow and ice storms in New Hampshire. Southern trees struggle to survive in northern climates. Some compete successfully, others don’t. Some trees (like pine or spruce) simply bend or fold branches to shrug off snow. Other trees (like oaks) try to stand rigid and inflexible. Stout
Jan 04, 2019
Something Wild: Tested with Fire
The diversity of New Hampshire’s habitats is staggering, as we’ve mentioned in the past there are more than 200 natural communities within our borders. This week, in another edition of New Hampshire’s Wild Neighborhoods Something Wild, again visits a rare habitat type. We’re going to visit the pitch pine scrub oak woodland, more commonly referred to as “pine barrens.” There are a few examples of this habitat in New Hampshire, but globally it’s pretty rare, too. To understand why pine barrens are so rare in the northeast we need to talk for a moment about forest succession . The default landscape in New England in general and in New Hampshire, specifically is forest. If you left your back yard, you’d have a forest before your lawn mower could rust out. And there is a well-established succession of tree species that our forests follow. You can actually tell how old a forest is by what types of trees you see. Pine barrens one of many forest types that are often in turn succeeded by taller
Dec 21, 2018
Something Wild: Where Have All the Birds Gone?
As we hunker down for the winter weather, we’re frequently too preoccupied with what is in our front yards that we tend not to notice what isn’t there. The snow and ice have muscled out the grass, and the chilly sounds of the north wind have blown away the dawn chorus that woke us this summer. And short of finding a postcard in your mailbox from a warm exotic location, signed by your friendly neighborhood phoebe , you probably haven’t thought much about the birds that flitted through your yard just months ago.
Dec 07, 2018
Something Wild: Winter of Scarcity
This weekend of plenty is a time to celebrate the abundant harvest. But for a lot of species in the New Hampshire wilds, this is likely the early days of a winter of discontent. Winter is always the lean time of the year, but this winter especially, biologists are expecting scarcity for all sorts of forest dwellers: birds, rodents and larger mammals. And naturally, our colleague from the Forest Society will remind us that it’s all because of the trees. And this time he’ll meet no disagreement.
Nov 23, 2018
Something Wild: Seals at Isles of Shoals
On a Tuesday morning in summer, 2017, Chris Martin boarded the John B. Heiser, a 33-foot research vessel, headed for Duck Island. Mission: to count seals.
Nov 09, 2018
Something Wild: The Dangers of Hiking the Whites
I rolled into the parking lot of the Mountain Wanderer Book Store in Lincoln, New Hampshire. I was there to meet two White Mountain hiking experts. Authors Mike Dickerman of Bond Cliff Books and Steve Smith, editor of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Hiking Guide. Steve also owns the Mountain Wanderer. From the bookstore, we drove to a nearby trail head for the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area in Lincoln. The wooden bridge at the trail head is the gateway to 45,000 acres of protected land, in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest. As Smith points out, “Many a long journey has started here, and ended here.” We’re not far along our own journey when Smith and Dickerman begin swapping war stories from decades of walking these trails. Dickerman remembers breaking through the ice up to his waist; Smith remembers the difficulty of evacuating a member of one of his crew who had broken a leg on the trail. These sorts of stories are rites of passage for any serious hiker, and
Oct 26, 2018
Something Wild: Terns Thriving on Isles of Shoals
We started the day on Appledore Island, just outside Portsmouth Harbor. The Shoals Marine Lab, resident there, traces its history back to 1928. Among the biologists spending the summer there this year were Dr. Elizabeth Craig, Tern Conservation Program Manager. "There are three species that I’m hoping we’re going to see today; the common tern, the roseate tern and the arctic tern." In her orientation she walks through the differences among the species, but all three are long lived, which for birds, means 10-30 year life-spans. And in that time, the terns log some serious miles. After orientation we file onto an inflatable for the short boat ride to White and Seavey islands, home to one of the largest tern colonies in the gulf of Maine, and the only breeding site for these birds in New Hampshire. Project Leader Jen Seavey marvels at the tern's incredible migration distances, "over its lifetime it flies to the moon and back 3 times. 1.5 million miles. A four ounce bird!" Those are stats
Sep 28, 2018
Something Wild: International Treaties Aren't Always About Trade
Kirk Dorsey wanted to be an ornithologist, so he went to Cornell University. “But I was not a particularly good student at ornithology…all the biology classes. But I was taking history classes for fun.” And in his junior year he found himself in a US Foreign Policy class. “There was a half a sentence in a text book, that in 1916, the United States and Canada negotiated a treaty to protect migratory birds. And I thought, ‘wow, I had no idea. I need to learn more about that.’” So, in graduate school, that became the subject of Dorsey’s dissertation. In the end, instead of becoming an ornithologist with an interest in history, Dorsey became an historian with an interest in birds. In fact, he’s now a professor of history at UNH. And the treaty he was talking about is the International Migratory Bird Treaty. The treaty “makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts,
Sep 14, 2018
Something Wild: Tidepools Aren't a Walk on the Beach
Labor Day weekend is often summer’s last hurrah – or at least our last chance to participate in those uniquely summer pastimes. So we thought we’d go out with some sun, surf and a nice breeze by exploring another of New Hampshire’s Wild Neighborhoods. And once again we take a tour of great place to visit, but a hard place to eke out a living. There are only a few examples of Maritime Rocky Shores within New Hampshire’s borders, and all are along our seacoast or on the Isles of Shoals. And oddly enough some parts of this neighborhood are a lot like the alpine zone we visited a while back: pretty inhospitable, especially the islands. They get hit pretty hard by relentless wind, crashing ocean waves and salt spray. Our Rocky Shores neighborhood actually contains many distinct marine zones. And, specifically, we want to dig into the Rocky Intertidal Zone, so named because it occupies the area of the shoreline between high tide and low tide. “Tides are the changing of the earth’s sea-levels
Aug 31, 2018
Something Wild: Crickets Herald the Autumn
Something Wild fan, Michael Carrier, wrote in recently, he said “If possible could you do a program about identifying some of the more common sounds you hear at dusk or night in New Hampshire.” Yeah, we can do that. So a typical evening scene in Anytown, New Hampshire is a symphony of sound. A screen door slams in the distance…a jake brake startles the neighbor’s dog…the weekend warrior fires up her motorcycle… But as the evening settles in and human sounds fade away we can better hear the natural world. But even the rustling of our deciduous trees, barred owls, coyotes trying to locate their pack, a whippoorwill trying to locate a mate, and a red fox is staking out his territory tend to drown out a more subtle instrument in the orchestra. If ever there was a sound that signifies August, it’s the quiet song of the crickets. Nathaniel Hawthorne described it as “audible stillness,” writing, “if moonlight could be heard, it would sound just like that.” That especially appropriate because
Aug 17, 2018
Something Wild: A Timber Harvest
We don't often think of trees when we speak of "harvest." Corn is harvested; apples, tomatoes, squash are the fruits of the annual autumnal rite which is the province of our farmers. Maybe it's because those plants are harvested at the end of their lifespan that we don't lament the moment they are cut down. We're much more precious with our trees. Maybe because we associate de-forestation with developments of housing sub-divisions, or banal strip malls with all the character and scenic beauty of sound baffles on the sides of our highways. But, as a society we consume forest products as much as we do farm products. And sometimes when a tree comes down it's not to make room for another human edifice, but another tree. Dave takes us to a site in Stoddard, NH where that is the precise plan: taking down trees to plant the next forest. We started at the landing at the Crider and Rumrill forest where the logs are being piled for a tractor trailer to haul them away to mill and market. There's
Aug 03, 2018
Something Wild: Eye of the Turtle
New Hampshire benefits from the presence of seven different turtle species. This week on Something Wild we’re taking a closer look at two of the most common species you can find all over the state: painted turtles and snapping turtles. First off, we have to acknowledge that turtles are amazing, they’re like living fossils. Artist-naturalist David Carrol, has has spent a lifetime studying turtles describes them as "evolutionarily conservative." He said, "they go back to about 200-220 million years ago, and they have hardly changed at all over that entire frame. Meanwhile, flowering plants for example didn’t appear until about 150-thousand years ago." Carroll says that if you found your self on Pangea 200 million years ago you would have no trouble recognizing our turtles ancestors. These days they tend to be a little smaller. Snappers are easily identified because it looks like a lizard stole a turtle shell. They’ve got these long necks, long tails and a brutish head with a pointed
Jul 20, 2018
Something Wild: Of Death, Beauty and Vultures
Outside/In host Sam Evans-Brown, joined us in the field this week at Something Wild. We were in Sutton, NH tracking some turkey vulture chicks, because Dave discovered some vultures living among the rocks in a nearby cliff-face. Turkey Vultures (one of three vulture species living in North America) are obligate to this kind of structure: cavities in a boulder field, caves in a cliff, even big hollow logs. TVs don’t build their own nests, they just create a depression in an existing structure, but their primary criteria is shelter from the weather. While these nests usually do protect their occupants from the weather, there are other dangers. Since many nests are on the ground they are susceptible to predation from foxes and fishers. But the TVs have other defences. If a vulture feels trapped, it will offer a warning hiss before vomiting on a threat. Consider being covered in partially digested, putrid carrion; it’s easy to imagine any threat beating a hasty retreat. But that is the
Jul 06, 2018