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         The Monadnock Nature Almanac is a monthly bulletin board of natural history activity in the southern New Hampshire

         Monadnock region, a mixed transitional forest upland of gentle hills, rivers, streams, and lakes located in Cheshire and

         Hillsborough counties. Covering approximately 800 square miles, it ranges in general elevation from 400 to 1200 feet  

         above sea level. Numerous peaks exceed 1400 feet, the highest of which,  Mount Monadnock, rises to 3165 feet. 




                                                " The happiest life has the greatest number of points of contact with the world, and it

                                                   has the deepest feeling and sympathy with everything that is.'   ..... Liberty Hyde Bailey




  MONADNOCK NATURE NOTES........ April 2016


                                        Subscribers are encouraged to submit their sightings, observations, and comments for inclusion

                                        in the Monadnock Nature Almanac's Nature Notes.  Submit to  brimstone108@myfairpoint.net. 

                                        Please include name and town.



       April, ..............       " If spring were in the teaching business, which it isn't , we would now be hearing a basic lecture on 

                                        philosophy.  All the elements are there, spring after spring, and all we have to do is supply the words

                                        and attend their meaning.  It is essentially a philosophy of life, of sentient being. It deals with beginnings

                                        and continuity, and if we look for meanings that is where we can turn. By the simple fact of being alive

                                        we participate, for we are part of the vast community of life which now responds.  Spring is no accident. 

                                        It is both a consequence and a reason, a quickening of forces as complex as a bud and as simple as 

                                        flowing water.  If we are aware of the wonder of spring, we must also be conscious of the inevitability 

                                        it demonstrates year after year.  If we are aware of beauty, which is a human interpretation, we must

                                        also see the basic order of life grown out of winter's discard and lifeless litter.  For spring is change

                                        and growth and pattern imposing themselves on what we too often think of as random disorder. And,

                                        perhaps most important of all, spring is achievement.  Here it is, eternally new, eternally hopeful. And

                                        here are we, participating in a season which, year after year, gives the lie to all philosophies of chaos 

                                        and futility."    ..... Hal Borland, Twelve Moons of the Year                                              


       April 1, ..............    Some MNA readers may not be aware of the recent press release from the University of New Hampshire's

                                       Department of Atmospheric Sciences regarding their research into changes in our sky color.  A ten year 

                                       investigation has revealed that  the sky is becoming less blue. The investigation team headed by visiting 

                                       professor Kafe Drauf from Vienna University used specially adapted digital cameras and computerized

                                       sky color charts to measure subtle shifts in the sky's color. The researchers found that the "Coefficient 

                                       of Blueness" has drastically diminished in the last ten years from 9.3 percent in 1996 to just 5.8 percent

                                       this year.  The color change has been tentatively linked to changes in the Ozone Layer coupled with 

                                       increasing atmospheric pollution, and global warming.  These contributing factors are thought to have

                                       altered the "light scattering mechanism" of our atmospheric gases, causing the sky to lighten.  One 

                                       year ago today,  hundreds of Monadnock region citizen scientists took part in a "mass sky observation"

                                       which employed a "Skyometer Chart" distributed by the University, a graded chart of different shades 

                                       of blue which observers matched to the sky at their locations throughout southern New Hampshire. 

                                       results were mailed to the University and were included in the findings.  Researchers are divided as to

                                       the potential sky color in the future. Some predict a Martian-like pinkish-orange and others favor a pale

                                       violet.   ..... Lola Priof, Troy


       April 4, ...............   Last night, salamanders were afoot throughout the Granite State on roads dampened by early evening

                                       showers.... and we're not fooling. Crossing Brigade volunteers helped 1,191 frogs and salamanders

                                       avoid the crush of the tire on Friday night, bringing our season total up to 4,537 amphibians since March

                                       10th.  North Lincoln Street in Keene was bustling as 8 Crossing Volunteers moved 6 spotted salamanders.

                                       163 spring peepers, 8 wood frogs and 1 hefty American toad across the road for a total of 178 amphibians.

                                       At Glebe Road in Westmoreland, one hearty volunteer crossed 63 spotted salamanders, 1 red-backed

                                       salamander, 12 eastern newts, 185 spring peepers, 3 pickerel frogs, 2 green frogs, and two toads for a

                                       grand total of 268 amphibians. Our Monadnock region will step into the freezer for the next few days, and

                                       our cold-blooded friends will be waiting out the chill under logs and leaf litter.   .... Brett Amy Thelen, Keen


       April 5, ..............    Understanding spring migration may be as easy as comprehending the Milky Way on a clear night.

                                       Diane Kappel-Smith says "I feel as though I was caught in the absurd and wonderful position of the 

                                       blind man who is trying to explain sight to the equally sightless - I can only say what miracles there 

                                       are."   The trigger for migration is the pituitary gland which acts almost like a third eye, sensing the 

                                       increase in day length and releasing hormones to push the birds skyward. Once aloft, birds navigate

                                       by using a combination of skills, piloting by the sun, by the stars, by magnetic fields, and by landmarks. 

                                       Kappel-Smith compares the instinctual navigating abilities of birds to our ability as young children to

                                       acquire language. We are able to use complex language to meet many needs before we can even

                                       coordinate opening a door or wielding a spoon.  Kappel-Smith reflects "Perhaps the flocks of young

                                       swallows and song sparrows moving in the woods are learning these things: the syntax and

                                       vocabulary of darkness and light. Of magnetic dip and rise. Of stillness and motion."  When I see and

                                       hear the first birds return, I am reminded of one philosophers view of life: "Mystery enfolds knowledge,

                                       and is always more than our knowing."  Feeling that mystery makes migrations all the more worth

                                       seeing.   ..... John Bates


       April 5, .................  Bobcat Hunting Bill Blocked -  A NH legislative committee has temporarily blocked a proposed bobcat

                                        hunting and trapping season in NH, concerned that traps could catch federally protected Canada 

                                        lynx and that the hunt could harm the finances of the Fish and Game Department. At a hearing on Friday

                                        morning, the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules gave the Fish and Game Department

                                        45 days to respond to the Committee's concerns. The Committee also voted 11-1 to send the issue back 

                                        to the Fish and game Committee of the State House and Senate, giving them 30 days to review public 

                                        policy.  ..... David Brooks, Concord                                           


       April 7, .................  MacDowell Dam in Peterborough Site of Habitat Enhancement Project - The US Army Corps of

                                        Engineers at Edward MacDowell Lake has been working with state and local partners since September

                                        of 2013 on this habitat improvement project for turtles and other upland species. The final stages of the 

                                        project which involves preparing the site for plantings and securing the nesting area. The project

                                        involves reclaiming an existing 3.5 acres of gravel pit in order to enhance critical turtle nesting habitat.

                                        The goal is to provide a suitable nesting area at the gravel pit, thereby increasing turtle nesting rates

                                        and decreasing turtle mortality.   .... Monadnock Ledger transcript, Peterborough


       April 11, ...............  Conditions were nearly perfect for salamanders on the evening of April 7th, but there were fewer

                                        amphibians about than expected and some of them were heading away from their breeding wetlands. 

                                        Could this be a sign that salamander season is winding down for the year ? Even so, our Crossing

                                        Brigade volunteers collectively helped 837 frogs and salamanders cross roads throughout the

                                        Monadnock region on Thursday night, bringing the season total up to 5,397 since March 10th.

                                        Salamander and frog eggs have started to appear in vernal pools throughout the region, and some

                                        amphibians were moving away from their breeding wetlands, their jobs done for the year. This is a

                                        sign that the salamander is winding down.  At the same time. it's possible that a few late comers will

                                        migrate, and that some homeward-bound frogs and salamanders could use a helping hand as they

                                        make their way back to the woods in the evening's warm rain.   ..... Brett Amy Thelen, Keene 


        April 12,..............   De-duck-tion - This morning a pair of mallards waddled 30 yards up from the pond, uphill and over

                                        a wall to scoop up seeds dropped from the bird feeder outside of my dining room window. How did

                                        they figure out there was something there ?  Maybe from watching other birds ? 

                                              ..... Terry McMahon, Stoddard   


        April 14, .............   Bobcat Hunting Plan Dropped - The State Fish and Game Department has withdrawn its proposal to

                                        allow bobcat hunting and trapping in New Hampshire. "It was clear to us that it (the proposal) was not

                                        going anywhere , and that it was not productive to keep battling the issue." said Glen Normandeau.

                                        Executive Director of the Agency. Fish and Game does not plan to revisit the idea anytime soon. "This

                                        proceeding is finished." Normandeau said. The department announced its decision two weeks after

                                        a committee of NH House and Senate members, known as the Joint Legislative Committee on

                                        Administrative Rules (JLCAR) objected to proposed rules for the hunt.  .... Shawne Wickham, Manchester


        April 18, ............    Wausau (one of my satellite tagged ospreys) made it home today to his nest in Grovetown after his

                                        winter vacation in Columbia... and I was there to see him arrive. A data upload at 11 AM showed that he

                                        was near Tilton, so I raced north to Grovetown to try and see his arrival.  It was a bit of a soap opera.

                                        His old mate had a new male with her at the nest, he was bringing sticks and looking very settled.

                                        Wausau is late so it's not surprising that she had a new guy. He first started his migration on March 18,

                                        but after 150 miles he inexplicably turned around and went back to his winter home for a couple of days

                                        before restarting (forgot to turn off the lights ?)  he wasted ten days and ended up well behind all our

                                        other birds.  At 2:45, Wausau announced his arrival with a spectacular skydance and tried to land on

                                        the nest but the new male saw him off.  An hour later Wausau returned and reclaimed the nest. After

                                        another spectacular skydance he flew to the nest, mated with his girl, rearranged some sticks ... and

                                        it was back to normal .... her nagging him to get dinner !    ..... Ian MacLeod , Ashland


        April 20, ...........     Monday (April 18) afternoon was warm and sunny. I spent a few hours watching (and photographing)

                                        the backyard birds.  In addition to the year-rounders (nuthatches, chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers)

                                        a number of returning migrants have appeared. There were good numbers of American goldfinches,

                                        sometimes as many as a dozen or so at one time.  I am always amazed at the brilliant yellow color of 

                                        the males at this time of year. Smaller numbers of purple finches were also present. Small flocks of 

                                        juncos (8 or 10) came and went all afternoon. I am unable to get a sense of what stimulates the entire

                                        flock to make an exodus. When they leave en mass they seem to startle everyone else, (including me)

                                        and often cause the finches to flee as well.  Lastly, I saw two singletons, a red-breasted nuthatch and a 

                                        chipping sparrow. ......  Frank Gorga, Antrim    

                                             Frank's blog describing his natural history observations and his wonderful accompanying

                                             photography is always worth a visit.  (www.gorga.org/blog/ ... CS                


        April 20, ...........     On Mount Monadnock, beautiful day, but with a stiff wind above the tree-line.  Approximately 20 people

                                         occupied the summit. None of them seemed to notice or care that there were six snow buntings in

                                         their midst. Certainly a late sighting for buntings. I noticed that one was banded. .... Bruce Hedin, Hancock


        April 23, ...........     This afternoon Blue-headed Vireos were to be heard along the Dinsmore Trail at Sargents Center in

                                         Peterborough, whereas only two days ago there were none. It really gave me the feeling of being in

                                         the midst of a wave of migrants. I suspect the calm conditions following the passage of yesterday's

                                         storm front allowed birds to flood into the area.  ...... Bruce Boyer, Jaffrey


        April 23, .............    I noted with interest your observation in last month's MNA regarding the seemingly darker colors

                                         of this years late spring marcescent understory beech leaves.  I had noted the same thing here in

                                         the woods along the back roads in Hillsborough but wasn't sure if it was just a localized effect. 

                                         During the last two weeks I have noticed that many of the areas I thought were darker than normal,

                                         were now their usual lighter whitish color. I was curious if you have noted the same in your area?

                                            ..... Steve Harris, Hillsborough  

                                              I haven't noted any change here in the Hancock-Peterborough region. In my opinion,  they 

                                          still seem to me to be a bit darker than previous years. ....  CS                       


        April 23, .............    I was walking the Hiroshi Loop Trail this afternoon, and where it runs along the south bank of

                                         Nubanusit Brook leading out of Dinsmore Pond, I heard a loud cry and then saw an osprey flying

                                         toward the pond with a fish in its talons. Later I walked the Dinsmore Trail of Sargent Center on the

                                         opposite side of the stream and encountered an osprey in the same place.   ..... Bruce Boyer, Jaffrey


        April 25, .............   Eastern bluebirds are preparing for the first of the two or three broods they will raise this summer.

                                        Contrary to what those of us who clean out our bluebird boxes have been led to believe, the Cornell

                                        Lab of Ornithology states that experiments show bluebird preferences for nesting boxes that contain

                                        old nests. In a paired experimental design bluebirds chose boxes containing old nests in 38 of 41

                                        cases in which boxes with old nests were paired with empty ones. Scientists conjecture that this may

                                        be because the old nests often contain wasp larvae, an easy source of food for the bluebirds. Females

                                        build their nest over several days.  Grasses and pine needles are gathered from the ground and are

                                        delivered to the next box. Fine grasses, horse hair and turkey feathers often provide the soft,

                                        innermost lining of the nest.  While the male enters the box during the nest- building process, perhaps

                                        to inspect, he does not actively collect material or participate in the building of the nest.  Once the 3 - 7

                                        eggs are laid, the female spends the next two weeks or so incubating them.  She then broods the

                                        young for about a week, and both parents provide them with food for up to three weeks after the

                                        young have fledged.  ......  Mary Holland, Hartland, VT

                                             Make sure to visit Mary's blog, Naturally Curious with Mary Holland, for always interesting and

                                        informative regional natural history items. Mary's blog items are numerous, timely, and always

                                        illustrated with exquisite photography. (https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com)


        April 26, .............   Accessible Trails Open at Crotched Mountain -  The accessible trails at the Crotched Mountain Rehab

                                        Center are open for the season. As the longest accessible trail system in the United States, the Gregg

                                        and Dutton Brook Trails provide access for people of all abilities, including people who use wheel-

                                        chairs or other devices for mobility. seniors and families with children. Both trails open 30 minutes after

                                        sunrise and close 30 minutes before sunset, depending upon current trail conditions. For updated

                                        trail conditions, visit the Center's Accessible Trails page at www.cmf.org/trails or call 547-3311.

                                           ..... Greenfield


        April 26, .............    I was a bit surprised to hear the distinctive song of a black-throated green warbler this afternoon

                                         during a sleet storm in Hancock.  Despite the weather today, it seemed to be right around the usual

                                         arrival date for our area.  Also notable today around the house was a sizable flock of white-throated

                                         sparrows which were not here previously .... showers overnight probably brought down a few

                                         landbird migrants.  ..... Phil Brown, Hancock


        April 27, .............   I went to the boat launch at the north end of MacDowell Lake (Peterborough), and some non-birders

                                        asked me about some large birds they had just seen. I suspected they had seen Ospreys, and waited

                                        a few minutes. Soon an Osprey appeared gliding overhead. Later I saw another perched in a tree along

                                        the shore. I think it's likely these are the same birds I saw a couple of days ago at Dinsmore Pond.

                                           .... Bruce Boyer, Jaffrey  


        April 28, .............   Finally, an almost unprecedented act by a legislative body... actually listening to, and acting on the

                                        overwhelming desire of its constituency. I was pleased to see the NH Fish and Game Department,

                                        however reluctantly, accede to the recommendations of the NH legislative Committee and drop its

                                        plans for a bobcat hunting season.  Without the legislative recommendation, Fish and Game would

                                        have undoubtedly enacted this ill conceived idea in the face of overwhelming public opposition.

                                            ..... Ellen Davis, Hillsborough


        April 28, .............   I stopped at Chesterfield Gorge State Wayside on my way up to Lempster this AM.  Had my first of 

                                        the year Blue-headed Vireo and Black-throated Green Warbler as well as my first New Hampshire

                                        Louisiana  waterthrush. I've driven by this place hunderds of times on my way between Wolcott and

                                        Lempster but today was my first stop here. Beautiful deep Hemlock gorge with many small waterfalls

                                        and slides. Right on Route 9. I highly recommend it as a rest stop if you are driving through.

                                           ..... Jack Swatt, Lempster

                                            The Chesterfield Gorge is well worth a visit.  It  is one of those spots that you drive by constantly

                                        and always say to yourself that you should stop and visit sometime. The gorge is a beautiful spot

                                        with an ever changing natural scene throughout the seasons.  Recent improvements in the visitor

                                        center and staffing make it an even more inviting place to put of your "to do list" . Check out the

                                        following   www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/chesterfield-gorge-natural-area.aspx  ... CS


        April 29, .............   Hummingbirds are on their way north - They're Here ! ......  www.hummingbirds.net/map.html

                                          ..... Frank Margiotta, Clinton Corners, NY


        April 29, ............    "There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

                                          There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

                                          There is society, where none intrudes,

                                          By the deep sea, and music in its roar:

                                          I love not man the less, but Nature more."

                                               ....  Lord Byron, Submitted by Ellen Taylor, Rindge


        April  30, ...........    Some recent general and regional natural history articles worth tracking down ......  CS


                                             - Northern Woodlands Magazine - Spring 2016 Issue  

                                                   -  When Worms go Rogue - Rachel Sargent             -                                                   


                                              - Northern Woodlands - eNewsletter (sign up www.northernwoodlands.org)

                                                   -  Olfactory Enthrallment - Dave Mance  (4/18/16)

                                                   -  In April, Loons Return - Tiffany Soukup (4/11/16)

                                                   -  Springtime Skunks: Amorous, Odiferous and in the Road - Todd McLeish (4/1/16)


                                                       If you sign up to receive the Northern Woodlands eNewsletter,  in addition to

                                                       receiving the Newsletter regularly, you will also get access to the Newsletter's

                                                       archives. A treasure trove of regional natural history .... CS


                                               - Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

                                         - Glacial Erratics: A Rock Like No Other - Eric Aldrich - April 19

                                                   - Percussion Everywhere; The Woodpeckers Drum - Francie Von Mertens




         MONADNOCK MUSINGS                            



                                                              Hobblebush, (Viburnum lantanoides) -  Virginia Barlow  



                                      Forests would be a lot less interesting and not nearly as beautiful without ferns, wildflowers and 

                                 shrubs, understory trees and other small plants. But as the canopy closes in a forest, the amount of 

                                 light that filters through to the ground diminishes greatly, slowly starving all but the most shade-adapted

                                 residents of the lower layers.  Hobblebush, a sprawling shrub that has beautiful, showy white flowers in

                                 spring, succeeds well in growing in deep shade, using several strategies that keep it from having to

                                 declare photosynthesis bankruptcy, despite having very little regular solar income.  

                                       Just like the wildflowers called spring ephemerals - the ones that make use of the flood of sunlight 

                                 available in march, April, and early May before trees of the canopy leaf out - hobblebush leaves open early,

                                 sometimes when there is still snow on the ground. This allows them access to high light levels for two to

                                 four weeks, ending when overstory leaves have fully expanded.  This early leaf-out increases hobblebush's

                                 annual photosynthesis by 40 percent.  The main reason for leaves not to open early is frosty nights. It's

                                 worrying to see newly unfolded leaves killed and blackened by frost, as this loss must be quite costly in a 

                                 tree or a shrub. It's an expense that hobblebush avoids by having enough antifreeze agents in its leaves 

                                 to reduce the freezing point to 5 degrees below freezing - a freezing point that is 1 to 2 degrees lower than 

                                 the freezing point of yellow birch, whose leaves were previously considered to be the most cold tolerant of

                                 the woody plants. In addition to being able to get by at an unusually low thermostat setting, hobblebush is

                                 thrifty. As plants expend energy all the time, day and night, just to perform basic functions, and every plant

                                 has a "light compensation level," the amount of light that is needed to break even. Light above this level 

                                 will allow for growth or the accumulation of stored energy.  At less than the light compensation level, the 

                                 plant can't pay the rent. Although after leaf-out there is only 10 percent in the understory as there is in the

                                 canopy, the hobblebushes studied made net gains every day through the summer, except when there was

                                 continuous thick cloud cover.  At night, hobblebush is similarly penny-pinching, maintaining a low

                                 respiration rate compared to other plants.

                                        Sometimes the success that these adaptations have brought to hobblebush is not always appreciated 

                                 by those who happen upon it. It is called hobblebush (and sometimes witch hobble) because the ends of its 

                                 branches droop, become embedded in the ground, and take root, creating a nearly impenetrable tangle. At

                                 times, dense hobblebush thickets may interfere with regeneration of desirable tree species. Though it survives  

                                 by being opportunistic and parsimonious, in appearance it is extravagant. The white flowers are in flat-topped 

                                 clusters, 3 or so inches across, with a rim of very showy petals. The flowers are followed by fruits that change  

                                 in color from red to dark purple in late summer. The heart-shaped opposite leaves are sometimes 8 inches

                                 long - huge for a lowly shrub that usually is less than 5 feet high.  Moose and deer feed on hobblebush,

                                 especially in winter, and the plants that they have browsed are stunted and develop odd looking leaves. The

                                 fruits are known to be eaten by pine grosbeak, redpoll, cardinal, red-eyed vireo, ruffed grouse, turkey, robin,

                                 starling, thrushes, great crested flycatcher, cedar waxwing, and pileated woodpecker. White-footed mice, black

                                 bear, chipmunk, red fox, eastern gray squirrel, and skunk also eat the seeds. if there are few seeds left, it may

                                 not matter that much, for hobblebush almost always reproduces from sprouts or from the new plants that

                                 form when the branches take root. Cool, moist woods and shaded ravines throughout temperate eastern

                                 North America are made particularly beautiful by hobblebush in autumn, when the large leaves slowly turn

                                 purple and then yellow before falling to the ground. 


                                   ..... Reproduced, with permission,  from one of  Virginia's regular contributions to the quarterly magazine

                                         Northern Woodlands.  Enjoy her articles, and regular  features: The Understory and her quarterly

                                         Nature Calendar -  both of which are alone worth the subscription price.                                   



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        MONADNOCK SKIES -  MONADNOCK SKIES ........  May 2016



        May,  ..........        Spring  Skies -  I have always liked to use the analogy of describing the slow seasonal change in

                                       the stars and constellations visible in the night sky to the view of the scenery from the passenger

                                       seat of a car driving around a large oval racetrack.  The view at any particular point in the trip is

                                       always the same. But, sometimes the scenery is a bit "more interesting" as is the case during the

                                       winter portion of the trip.  It is at this section of the trip that as we view out toward the night sky

                                       (viewing inward would be the "daytime" scenery looking toward the sun) we see the most distinctive

                                       constellations and the brightest stars of the year.  We are now viewing the " late springtime" 

                                       scenery of our trip around our orbital racetrack. This springtime sky is considerably less interesting

                                       in terms of bright stars and distinctive constellations. So we should take this time to appreciate the

                                       last remnants of the winter sky while they are still with us low in the west just after sunset. . After the

                                       relatively drab springtime sky, it will not be long before the bright summer stars and constellations

                                       will put in their appearance. 


        May, ...........        The Planets This MonthJupiter is high in the south at mid-month. During the first week of may the 

                                        giant planet can be food near the Meridian around 9 PM. It may be seen in the constellation Leo. Just

                                        below the outline stars of the Lion's body, east of Regulus.  The gibbous moon is near Jupiter on May

                                       14th. The planet Mars is closest to the earth on May 30th, the closest it has been since 2005. The Red

                                        Planet is visible low in the southeast a couple of hours after sunset at mid-month. This close approach

                                        provides an opportunity for Monadnock skywatchers to explore the planet with the use of a telescope.

                                        Saturn is located a bit lower and to the left of Mars.


        May 9, ..........         Transit of Mercury - A relatively rare opportunity for Monadnock Sky Watchers on Monday, May 9th,

                                        a "Transit" of the planet Mercury across the face of the sun.  As viewed from earth, only the planets

                                        Venus and Mercury can be viewed crossing the solar disk. Both are relatively rare events. Mercury

                                        transits occur about 13 times each century, the last occurring in 2006. Transits of Venus are even more 

                                        rare occurring in pairs with more than a century separating them. This transit of Mercury will be visible

                                        throughout the eastern United States, beginning at 7:12 AM EDT. The planet will appear as a tiny dot

                                        slowly transiting the solar disk. The transit will last about 7 hours, ending at 2:42 Pm in the afternoon.

                                        Viewing the solar disk is always dangerous and should not be attempted without proper filters covering

                                        binoculars or telescopes. Viewing the sun directly without such protection can cause blindness.

                                        Those wishing to view the transit should contact their local amateur astronomy group or club to see if a

                                        viewing session with proper protection is planned.


       May 6, ..........        New Moon  


        May 13, ........       First Quarter Moon                                         .                           


       May 21, ........       Full Moon -                                   


       May 29, ........        Last Quarter










                                         The Natural History Events Calendar lists activities, walks, classes, and programs in, and within 

                                          reasonable driving distance of,  the Monadnock Region.  Organizations are encouraged to list their

                                          events that are open to members and non-members alike. Events must be submitted before the

                                          end of the month preceding the one in which the events are scheduled.



      May 6, ............   Easygoing Hike to Surry Mountain Dam -  Rich Taylor and Lee Baker will lead a moderately 

                                  strenuous 4 mile round-trip hike from the Surry Town Hall north along the reservoir and back. Bring 

                                  water and lunch, and meet at 10 AM next to Ocean State Job Lot in Peterborough to carpool.  back by

                                  3 PM.  For more information contact Rich (827-4105) or Lee (525-5262.  Harris Center program.      


      May 7, ............   Hedgehog Hill Hike -  Join Ben Haubrich for a 5 1/2 mile hike along Hedgehog Hill and Wilton Hill in

                                  Deering.  Mostly moderate hiking, with two moderately strenuous 400 foot elevation gains. Bring water

                                  and lunch, and meet at 10 AM at the Crotched Mountain Golf Club in Francestown to carpool to the

                                  starting point on Hedgehog Mountain Road.  Back by 4 PM. For more information, contact Ben (547-2075)

                                  Harris Center program.


       May 7, ............  Distant Hill Gardens Vernal Pool Walks - Join us for either a morning (10 to 11:30 AM) or afternoon (1 to

                                  2:30 PM) exploration of the vernal pools at the Distant Hill Gardens in Walpole. You will learn the importance

                                  of these temporary ponds as critical amphibian breeding habitat and how to identify the Indicator Species

                                  that are found only in vernal pools. You'll see egg masses of wood frogs, spotted salamanders, and 

                                  Jefferson salamanders. And with luck, we'll get to see a fairy shrimp or two in one of the ten vernal pools of

                                  Distant Hill.  To access the pools we'll be using the new half-mile long accessible nature trail that winds its

                                  way through "White Rock Woods" at Distant Hill. All ages and abilities are welcome. Held rain or shine.

                                  507 March Hill Road, Walpole. Suggested donation $5.00 for admission to the Gardens


       May 7, ............  Bus Tour - 75th Anniversary of the Great Marlow-Stoddard Fire -  Join filmmaker-historian Tracy

                                  Messer and several other local experts for a bus tour of the area impacted by the Great Marlow-Stoddard

                                  Fire.  We'll talk about how the great conflagration shaped the history, forest and culture of both towns.

                                  Stops will include the spot where the fire first ignited, as well as Bald Hill. Marlow Village, and Pitcher Mt. At

                                  each stop, we'll take a short walk, discuss what happened at that site, and look for signs of the fire that are

                                  still visible today. Lunch will be provided at the Bald Mountain stop, where we'll celebrate the Monadnock

                                  Conservancy's recent protection of the land there. 10 AM to 2 PM. Tickets $20 per person. Cosponsored

                                  by the Harris Center,  the Monadnock Conservancy, and the Historical Society of Cheshire County. For

                                  more information or to purchase tickets, contact Jennifer Zaso (357-0600)


     May 8, .............  First Paddle of the Season - Brattleboro Outing Club - The first paddle of the 2016 season will take

                                  place on Sunday, May 8th. Mother's Day at the Hinsdale Connecticut River Setbacks . We'll meet at 10 AM

                                  in the Walmart parking lot in Hinsdale, NH. on Rt. 119. Special gifts for all mothers ! The Brattleboro Outing

                                  Club hosts free paddle trips open to the public from may through September. See their website for the 2016



      May 8, .............  Great Marlow-Stoddard Fire 75th Anniversary Hike to Stoddard Rocks -  On April 28, 1941, Fred

                                  Jennings was manning the Pitcher Mountain lookout tower.  Winds were blowing at a crisp 18 mph out of

                                  the northwest under bright blue skies. The relative humidity was barely 11 %. The month of April was the

                                  driest on record since 1871. Fred wished it would rain because the woods were too dry. A little cloud

                                  developing on the horizon caught his eye, but he realized it wasn't big enough to hold much water. A 

                                  cloud ?  Heck no. It was smoke. Over the next four days, the Great Marlow-Stoddard  Fire consumed 

                                  24,000 acres, becoming the largest fire in New England to feed off the fuel left by the Hurricane of 1938.

                                  Join Geoff Jones, Stoddard resident and professional forester, for a hike to Stoddard Rocks, and relive

                                  the experience through evidence that still lies on the land 75 years later. Expect a moderately strenuous

                                  4 mile hike, with additional road walking of up to 2 miles. Bring water and lunch and meet at 9:30 AM at

                                  the Highland Lake Marina in Stoddard. Back by 3 PM. Cosponsored by the Harris Center, the Monadnock

                                  Conservancy and the Historical Society of Cheshire County. For more information, contact Eric Masterson



      May 8, ...........   Native Spring Wildflowers at Distant Hill Gardens Walpole -  Join us for a moderate walk in search

                                   of some of the native wildflowers in bloom in the forests, fields and wetlands of Distant Hill. This will be

                                   the first of a series of monthly "Wildflower Walks" to be held on each of the upcoming Open Garden

                                   Weekends, Sunday afternoons for the rest of the 2016 season. You will be sure to see new wildflowers

                                   blooming each month.  1 PM to 3 PM at Distant Hill Gardens, 507 March Hill Road, Walpole. Suggested

                                   donation $5.00 for admission to the Gardens.


      May 10, .........   Ashuelot River Water Quality Monitoring Volunteer Training -  Join the Ashuelot River Advisory

                                   Committee (ARLAC) for their sixteenth season of water quality monitoring. Volunteers conduct monthly

                                   physical and chemical water quality monitoring along the length of the Ashuelot River from Washington to

                                   Hinsdale.  The data are then used by NH DES, the EPA, and local conservation commissions. Participants

                                   in this training will gain hands-on experience in sampling techniques and the use of monitoring equipment.

                                   6:30 to 8 PM in the Putnam Science Center (Room 365) at Keene State College. Registration is required.

                                   Cosponsored by the Harris Center, ARLAC, and Keene State College. For more information or to register,

                                   contact Barbara Skuly (352-0987)


      May 12, .........   In Bloom in Keene Conference:  Promising Practices in Nature Based Early Childhood Education -

                                   New nature pre-schools and forest kindergartens are cropping up each year in Maine, New Hampshire,

                                   and Vermont.  A flurry of preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school teachers are implementing

                                   Forest Days once a week in local woods. In these nature-based programs, children stomp in puddles,

                                   whittle sticks, paint their faces with charcoal, take care of animals, and expand their vocabularies, do

                                   real math, conduct investigations, and develop resilience. Learn from cutting-edge educators who are

                                   redefining what's possible in early childhood education. Program - 9 AM to 4 PM at Antioch University

                                   New England, 40 Avon Street, Keene. $125  Registration is required. For more information, contact Peg

                                   Smeltz (283-2301)


      May 14, ..........   Hidden Ponds of the Supersanctuary -  Dave Butler and Meade Cadot will lead a moderately easy,  3.6

                                    mile roundtrip hike to Shadrach Pond and Tenney Pond which lie between the Thumb-Skatatukee Ridge

                                    and Nubanusit Lake. Bring water, dress for ticks, and expect some wet areas underfoot.  Meet at 8 AM at

                                    the Harris Center to carpool. Back by 11:30 AM. For more information, contact Meade (525-3394) or Dave

                                    (davidbutler@comcast.net)  Harris Center program.


      May 15, ...........  Birdwatching With Wendy - Distant Hill Gardens, Walpole -  Expert birder Wendy Ward will lead a

                                    leisurely walk through the forests and fields at Distant Hill Gardens in Walpole in search of our avian

                                    friends.   We will be looking for interesting species as well as learning how to identify some of the birds

                                    by their songs.  8 AM to 10 AM.  This is a free event. No registration is required. The gardens are located

                                    at 507 March Hill Road in Walpole.


      May 18, ...........  Caterpillars of New Hampshire - Environmental Studies Institute (ESI) Course -  3 Sessions - May 18

                                    and May 25 from 10 to 11:30 AM at the Harris Center in Hancock and June 1, from 10 to 11:30 AM at the

                                    Caterpillar Lab in Keene.  Join naturalists from the Caterpillar Lab for three Wednesday mornings to

                                    explore the fascinating world of native New England caterpillars. Discover the tremendous diversity of

                                    caterpillars in our own backyard, including surprises like self-decorating caterpillars, predatory caterpillars,

                                    and caterpillars with inflatable tassels and horns. The first two classes will be a combination of lecture,

                                    hand-on activities, and short field excursions to nearby fields, meadows and forests. Our final class

                                    will meet at the spectacular Caterpillar Lab in Keene, where you will see caterpillars as they eat, hatch,

                                    defend themselves, spin cocoons, and transform right before you eyes. At the Lab, you'll also learn tips

                                    for rearing caterpillars at home.  Instructors - Sam Jaffe, Caterpillar Lab founder, Liz Kautz,  Education

                                    Program Director, and Jesse Vargas, Lab Manager.  $40 Harris Center members / $60 non-members.

                                    Registration is required - Contact Sara LeFebvre at 525-3394.


      May 19, ...........   Shorebirding at a Buffalo Farm - Aided by the rising moon, we'll search for silhouettes and listen 

                                     for sounds of two unusual breeding shorebirds  - the American Woodcock and Wilson's Snipe - as well 

                                     as well as other wild (and not-so-wild) sights and sounds of a conserved farm . Dress for mud and bugs,

                                     and expect about a mile of easy hiking across field and trail.  Meet at 6:30 PM at the Hancock Town Office.

                                     back by 8:30 PM.  Cosponsored by the Harris Center and the Hancock Conservation Commission . For

                                     more information, contact Phil Brown (525-3394)


       May 21, ............   Birdathon at Goodhue Hill -  Join Francie Von Mertens and Meade Cadot for this friendly competition

                                     to hear and see as many bird species as possible. We'll focus our 2 - 2 1/2 mile roundtrip walk on the

                                     Summit of Goodhue Hill in the Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary - prime nesting habitat for nesting song-

                                     birds, including several species in decline.  Per-species donations are encouraged to support the

                                     Sanctuary.  Meet at the Willard Pond parking lot at 7 AM sharp to begin the climb to the summit. Back by

                                     11:30 AM. Cosponsored by the Harris Center and NH Audubon.  For more information contact Francie

                                     at (924-6550).


      May 22, ...........    Birdathon and Bloomathon in Surry -  Coma along with local birder Dave Hoitt and wildflower

                                      enthusiast  Wendy Ward on this easy 4-5 mile roundtrip walk to look for birds and blooms. Meet at 7 AM

                                      at the Surry Town Hall parking lot. Back by noon.  Bring water, a snack, field guides, binoculars and                                     

                                      repellant.   For more information, contact Dave (352-0987) or Wendy (weward@yahoo,com). Co-

                                      sponsored by the Harris Center and NH Audubon.


        May 22, ............   Landscaping for Wildlife: Gardening With a Purpose - 1 PM to 4 PM at Distant Hill Gardens, 507

                                      March Hill Road, Walpole. Would you like to know what to plant to attract the most number of birds, bees

                                      and butterflies to your garden ? This workshop will do just that.  Michael Nerrie of Distant Hill Gardens

                                      will begin with an indoor presentation followed by a stroll through the gardens of Distant Hill. You will

                                      get to see firsthand the many trees, shrubs and perennials best suited to attract wildlife to your garden.

                                      A large part of the discussion will be pointing out the advantages of using mostly native plants in your

                                      design.  Suggested donation for this workshop is $10. Space is limited, so please register early. To

                                      register distanthillgardens@gmail.com


        May 22, ............   Hopkinton Lake Paddle -  Join Dave Butler for an easy paddling and birding tour of Hopkinton Lake,

                                      which was created when the Hopkinton-Everett Flood Control Project was built in 1960.  This undeveloped

                                      water body consists of several quiet bays and the passageways that connect them, providing a peaceful

                                      paddling experience.  BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat).  Meet at 9 AM at the boat access in West Hopkinton.

                                      To get there from the west, turn left off Route 9 opposite Stumpfield Road, 2.3 miles past the intersection

                                       with Route 127  North.  Back by 11:30 AM. For more information, contact Dave (davidbutler@comcast.net)

                                       Harris Center program.


      May 22, .............   CCCD "Bloom Tour" Open Garden - Distant Hill Gardens Walpole -  a special event in partnership

                                       with the Cheshire County Conservation District. Michael Nerrie, the designer and builder of Distant Hill

                                       Gardens, will lead a tour of the Gardens where visitors will be able to see fully grown specimens of many

                                       of the trees and shrubs that the CCCD offers for sale during their annual late winter plant sale, learn which

                                       plants might work in your landscape, along with tips on planting, pruning, disease and insect control, and

                                       more.  This is a free event. No registration is required. 507 March Hill Road, Walpole.


      May 28, .............   Dark Pond Hike - Join Tom Warren for a moderately easy,  1 mile roundtrip hike to Dark Pond, looking

                                       for nesting Merlin and newly arrived summer migrants. Meet at 9 AM at 91 Charcoal Road in Dublin. Back

                                       by 11 AM. Please RSVP to Tom Warren (313-0350) or ttwassociates@myfairpoint.net)  Harris Center








                         ..........    Wildflowers of New England - Ted Elliman (2016) - Wildflowers of New England is for hikers,

                                       naturalists, gardeners, and anyone wishing to learn more about the regions diverse wildflowers,

                                       or just wanting to know "What's that plant ?"  Ted Elliman, a Plant ecologist for the New England

                                       Wildflower Society, describes and illustrates more than 1,000 species commonly found in all six

                                       New England states, including annuals, biennials, and perennials, both native and naturalized.

                                       This useful guide uses a logical and convenient identification key based on flower color, petal

                                       arrangement, and leaf characteristics. 1,000 color photographs help to confirm that you've got 

                                       the right plant. The introduction provides an explanation of plant parts and information of plant

                                       names.  452 pages.  


                         ..........    Trail Guide: Peterborough Conservation Commission -  Recently updated and released, this

                                        edition includes maps and descriptions of 14 trails in the Peterborough region. The guide includes

                                        the Hiroshi Conservation Land Trail, the Cranberry Meadow Pond Rail and the Evan's Flats Trail.

                                        The guide is free and available at various public sites around Peterborough, including the Library,

                                        Town House, and Recreation Department. Also at www.peterboroughopenspace.org/maps.html


                          .........    Northern Woodlands Magazine - A quarterly magazine devoted to advancing forest

                                        stewardship in the northeast, and to increase the understanding of, and appreciation for, 

                                        the natural wonders,  economic productivity,  and ecological integrity of the region's forests.

                                        It always contain excellent natural history articles by prominent regional and national authors.

                                        Worth the subscription price alone for Virginia Barlow's Seasonal Natural History Calendar

                                        and her frequent articles. John Harrigan,  NH's iconic north country author, speaker,  weekly 

                                        columnist for numerous regional publications, once said "If I had to dump all but one of my

                                        periodical subscriptions, and that's plenty,  the survivor would be Northern Woodlands.  I'd

                                        put Northern Woodlands on the must-read list for anyone who lives, works in, cares about,

                                        or just visits New England. It has become the magazine I can simply cannot do without."



                               ........ New Hampshire Wildlife Journal - Published bi-monthly by the New Hampshire Fish and

                                        Game Department.  Dedicated to creating an awareness and appreciation for the state's fish and

                                        wildlife and the habitats upon which they depend.  Always contains interesting and informative

                                        articles on regional flora and fauna and environmental issues. (www.WildNH.com)


                               ......... Forest Notes - The quarterly magazine of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire

                                         Forests. The magazine includes selections dealing with Society properties, events, land  

                                         acquisition projects and frequently features articles on regional natural history.  Subscription is

                                         available with Society membership. Regularly features Dave Anderson's Natures View column.

                                         Dave, SPNH's Director of Education and Volunteer Services,  is a long time forest and wildlife

                                         naturalist, group field leader and is known for his prominence in regional land conservation and

                                         forest stewardship initiatives. Worth the price of membership for his essays alone. Information

                                         at:  (https://www.forestsociety.org/forest-notes))


                                ........ Field - New Hampshire Audubon's quarterly program and events guide.  The publication 

                                         features articles, programs, and activities offered at all of New Hampshire Audubon's centers

                                         and regional chapters throughout the state. The current issue and back issues are available at:









                                .......    Harris Center for Conservation Education.   Education, school programs, land

                                            and wildlife preservation, programs, hiking, weekend events.  Open year round.

                                            Mon.-Fri.  83 Kings Highway, Hancock, NH 03449.    www.harriscenter.org


                                 .......    New Hampshire Audubon Society.  A statewide organization, dedicated to the

                                            conservation of wildlife habitat . Programs in wildlife conservation, land protection,

                                            environmental policy, and environmental education.

                                            84 Silk Farm Road, Concord, NH.  www.nhaudubon.org


                                  .......  The Nature Conservancy.  A leading conservation organization working to protect

                                            ecologically important lands and waters in New Hampshire.  22 Bridge St., Concord,

                                            NH 03301  www.nature.org


                                   .......  Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.  A leading statewide

                                            land conservation organization dedicated to protecting the state's most important

                                            landscapes while promoting  wise use of its renewable natural resources.



                                   ........ Monadnock Conservancy.  The Monadnock Conservancy's mission is to work with

                                            communities and landowners to conserve the natural resources, wild and working lands,

                                            rural character and scenic beauty of the Monadnock region.  Visit their website:                                        



                                   ........ New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.  Conserves, manages and protects

                                            New Hampshire's fish, wildlife, and marine resources. www.WildNH.com


                                    ....... Friends of Pisgah - A volunteer organization dedicated to assisting in the preservation

                                            of Pisgah State Park located in southwestern Cheshire County. The organization has been

                                            involved in the development and maintenance of the park's trail system for many years.

                                            www.friendsofpisgah.org/  or  (http://www.chesterfieldoutdoors.com/)


                                    ........Friends of the Wapack - an independent, non-profit organization composed of hikers,

                                            volunteers, and landowners dedicated to the preservation of the 21 mile long trail from Mt.

                                            Watatic in northern Mass. to North Pack here in New Hampshire. 



                                   ........ Brattleboro Outing Club - The BOC offers an opportunity to participate in year-round

                                            outdoor activities including kayaking, canoe trips and cross country skiing. For additional

                                             information: (http://brattleborooutingclub.org)


                                    ....... Keene Amateur Astronomers Club -  Founded in 1957, the club has a goal of enhancement

                                            of Amateur Astronomy through fellowship, sharing knowledge and enjoyment of the hobby. The

                                            KAA holds monthly meetings, provides outreach programs, and holds regular viewing sessions

                                            at their own observatory. Membership is open to students, parents, beginners, backyard

                                            amateurs and experienced professionals. Meetings and observing sessions are open to all.






  MONADNOCK LINKS                         




                         ..........   John Bates - Northwoods Almanac -  Although  located in Wisconsin, John's natural history

                                       related blog entries are always interesting and informative. His regional environment is similar

                                       to ours here in New Hampshire and his observations and comments are almost always of interest.



                         ..........   NOAA National Weather Service Website - The NOAA Weather service website is by far the

                                      most detailed and informative source of local and regional weather information. Almost all of the

                                      other online weather websites and media outlets get their basic information from this source. 



                           .......... Topographic Maps - Free,  New Hampshire topographic maps are available for viewing or

                                       download by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.  (www.wildnh.com/maps)


                   .........  The New Hampshire Birding List - A website providing daily reports of sightings and

                                       comments from birdwatchers all over the state, with regular posts from the Monadnock Region.

                                       top birders.  


                           .........  New Hampshire Mountain Lions - John Ranta of Hancock, NH maintains a running blog which

                                      shares information on mountain lions in New Hampshire and reports sightings in the Granite State.



                           .........   Rare Bird Alert - New Hampshire - A weekly listing of rare bird sightings throughout the

                                       state. Compiled each week by Mark Suomala.  The RBA is available in each Friday's edition of

                                       the Union Leader newspaper, as a phone recording (603) 224-9909, or from the New Hampshire  

                                       Audubon's website:  (http://www.nhaudubon.org/birding/rare-bird-alerts)


                            .........  New Hampshire Lightning Detection/Tracking System  -  This site provides a real-time

                                       radar map of lightning strikes occurring in the northeastern states. The map is refreshed every 

                                        5 minutes. The site also provides a wealth of other useful and interesting meteorological 

                                        information.  (http://www.nhweatherdata.com/lightning.html)


                             .........  Heavens Above -  A treasure trove of observational astronomy information. After registering

                                        and inputting your latitude and longitude, the site provides you with exact times, locations, and

                                        magnitudes of various satellites visible at your location. (http://www.heavens-above.com/)


                             .......... Google Earth - a free program which allows the viewer to travel anywhere on earth and view

                                        aerial and satellite imagery from great elevations to street level.  Many locations provide three

                                        dimensional, 360 degree opportunities for viewing. A must for the regional naturalist to view

                                        natural areas and to preview hiking trails, etc. (http://www.google.com/earth/index.html)


                             ........... Spaceweather.com - A worthwhile site for all sorts of astronomy related information,

                                         including auroral displays and alerts, solar activity (sunspots, flares, etc), planetary Info.,

                                         meteor showers. The site provides a sign-up option for a free e-mail Spaceweather Alert

                                         when something significant is occurring. (http://www.spaceweather.com/


                              .......... Naturally Curious with Mary Holland - Follow the regional natural history scene throughout

                                         the year through the comments, images and insights of one of New England's premier naturalists.

                                         Mary's blog site should be a shortcut on the computer desktop of anyone interested in our natural

                                         world.  (http://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com/)


                               .......... New Hampshire Mineral Species - This site is dedicated to the documentation and confirmation

                                          of New Hampshire mineral species. Developed and maintained by Tom Mortimer, the site contains a

                                          listing of 293 New Hampshire species with images of 259 of these species. The vast majority of the

                                          over 1100 images on the site are thumbnail and micromount sized specimen images were taken by

                                          Tom. (http://mindatnh.org)


                               ..........  Antrim - Bennington Outdoor Guide - A wonderful resource for outdoor locations and activities

                                           in the region (http://www.antrimnh.org/Pages/AntrimNH_WebDocs/Outdoor_Guide.pdf)


                               ..........  New Hampshire Garden Solutions: Exploring Nature in New Hampshire  - A general

                                           interest blog maintained by Allen Norcross in Swanzey. Always interesting and informative. Well

                                           worth a regular visit to read Allen's comments on regional natural history and his wonderful

                                           photography (http://nhgardensolutions.wordpress.com/)





                             The monthly Monadnock Nature Almanac is compiled and edited by Chuck Schmidt, Hancock, NH.  To share

                        your observations or subscribe (or unsubscribe) to the free e-mail, contact brimstone108@myfairpoint.net .   

                        Please note, the MNA is formatted to display on a full screen computer e-mail window. All e-mail addresses are

                        secured and held completely confidential.  Past  issues of the Monadnock Nature Almanac (from September  

                        2010) are available upon request.