(Please note) - The MNA is formatted to display on a full screen e-mail window.  Subscribers experiencing any

             display problems can try clicking on your e-mail "view" tab, and choose the next smallest text size.

 

      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. 

 

 

                                    

                                                   "In the winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a

                                                     fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exhaulted simplicity."                                                                                       

                                             ..... John Borroughs

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                

  MONADNOCK NATURE NOTES........ January 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.

 

  

      January , .......             "Daylight lengthens. The change now becomes obvious at evening as the light begins to lengthen

                                        and there is a hint of dusk again.  The sun, as we say, is moving north and cutting a slightly larger arc

                                        in each day's passage. The depth of winter is upon us, but we see in the sky the insistence of eternal

                                        change.  The slow shift toward spring begins to make itself manifest.  Sunrise still lags, but the sun

                                        lingers now in the sky at evening. But change has come, and the change will slowly accelerate in the

                                        weeks ahead. Another month and we will have gained another hour of daylight. And after that we will

                                        be moving swiftly toward the equinox and spring, in terms of sun and daylight at least. What will be

                                        underfoot is something else again, since that will be mid-February. But change it is, and now there is

                                        no turning back. Time, not the temperature, marks off the days."  .... Hal Borland, Twelve Moons of the Year

                  

       January 1, .......      Last week I was sitting outside after sunset, enjoying  a cigar. Suddenly I could hear a bunch of 

                                         coyotes yipping and calling.  It's hard to describe their calls, I've heard it two or three times in the

                                         past. There's a blood-curdling joy to the sound, an eagerness, and at the same time it feels like 

                                         hunters closing in on a kill., calling support to each other. The calls were quite close, from just across

                                         the road, maybe a couple of hundred yards away.  They went on for 5 - 10 minutes, then died down.

                                         The group was quite close together, but there was also a sense of movement, as if the coyotes were

                                         running around, or circling their prey.  My guess is that they had cornered a deer. The issue of eastern

                                         coyotes hunting in packs, and preying on deer is surprisingly controversial among wildlife experts.

                                         There are many who maintain that eastern coyotes are solitary hunters of small game, like their

                                          western cousins.  And there are some who argue that eastern coyotes are more wolf-like, and 

                                          sometimes hunt in packs to take down larger game, in particular, deer. Once, about twenty years

                                          ago, I was almost run over by three coyotes in close pursuit of two deer, while I was hiking in the

                                          Quabbin. So, I lean toward the "wolf-like" side of the argument.  .... John Ranta, Hancock

 

        January 2, .........    Earth at Perihelion -  At 5:48 PM today the earth reached the closest point to the sun in its elliptical

                                          orbit around our parent star. The mere 91,403,812 mile distance is roughly 3 percent closer than the

                                          greatest distance (aphelion) reached back in July. For the purists out there, this distance is actually 

                                          measured from the centers of the earth and sun. The counterintuitive fact that we are experiencing

                                          our winter season and consequently our coldest temperatures is due to the fact that our seasons

                                          are determined by the 23 1/2 degree tilt of  the earths axis. This axial tilt, which is "away" from the sun, 

                                          in winter is the true cause of our seasons.  Since we are closest to the sun on this date, it appears 3%

                                          larger in the sky. This closeness also accounts for our greatest orbital velocity, about 67,000 mph, or

                                          19 mps. Even given the fact that we are "elbowing up" to the sun today (orbitally speaking),  if we

                                          hoped in a car and started driving there, it would take us 165 years at highway speeds. Taking a

                                          commercial jet however,  would cut that time down to a mere 19 years.  ..... Chuck Schmidt, Hancock

 

        January 7, .........    Proposed Bobcat Hunting and Trapping Season -  The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department

                                          continues on its seemingly inexorable march toward reestablishing a hunting and trapping season

                                          for New Hampshire bobcats. Even though the public is overwhelmingly against the establishment 

                                          of such a season, and the proponents offer little or no rationale for it, the Department seems to be

                                          dismissing the negative public outcry against the euphemistically phrased "harvesting" of this iconic

                                          animal by shooting or the inhumane use of leg traps.  The bobcat population has rebounded in

                                          recent years, and the NH population which is estimated at around 1,400, is now comparable to that

                                          in surrounding states.  But, the "limited harvest" of a small number of bobcats by hunting and

                                          trapping will have absolutely no effect on the population, so why do it ?  To assuage the desires of

                                          a small number of trappers in the state ? The bobcat is not a food source, poses no other threats, and

                                          even the thought of inhumane leg trapping to obtain a few fur pelts is grotesque. If the NH Fish and

                                          Game Department sees this as an opportunity to increase revenue, they should consider the number

                                          of state residents who will terminate their subscriptions to the NH Wildlife Journal, the  Department's

                                          magazine, revenue from which supports Department activities, if this policy which flies in the face of

                                          the public outcry is enacted.  I know I will.    .......  Ellen Davis Hillsborough

                                                 Dozens of articles have been written in the regional press regarding this issue. MNA readers can

                                           refer to last month's Monadnock Musings article written by John Harrigan, or access recent articles

                                           by Eric Aldrich in the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript (January 26) "Fish and Game Needs the Public

                                           Not a Bobcat Season" and "10 Bits About Bobcats". "Speak Against Bobcat Hunting in NH"  Gail

                                           Fisher, Jan 31, Union Leader. Two public hearings remain -  Feb 1 at 6 PM at Representatives Hall at

                                           the State House in Concord and the Fish and Game Office , 629B Main Street, Lancaster.  Fish and

                                           Game will continue to accept written comments until February 10th.  comments@wildlife.nh.gov

                                           where one  should include the subject line -   "Oppose Bobcat Hunting & Trapping Season". If you 

                                           are a current subscriber to the Wildlife Journal, the possibility of a subscription cancellation might be

                                           worth a mention.  The articles mentioned above can be accessed by using Google,  Bing, or any

                                           search engine and typing the article titles or "New Hampshire bobcat hunting season"  in the

                                           subject line.  ..... CS 

                                                                                                                       

        January 8, .........    The New Hampshire State Forest Nursery seedling catalog is now available as a pdf online at their

                                          website www.nhnursery.com  This is a great source of wildlife attracting shrubs and trees for your

                                          property   .....  Mike Walsh, Hillsborough

 

        January 10, .......    In New England, almost half the year is winter. The flowers and the greenery that brought us so

                                          much pleasure from April to October are  gone, and people who enjoy looking at and identifying

                                          plants have put their books away. However, the plants have by no means disappeared and it is

                                          still perfectly possible to identify them. Many books have been published which teach people how

                                          to identify trees and shrubs in winter by the characteristics of their twigs and bark. But what about 

                                          the rest of the plants - the weeds and wildflowers ? Although they may be dead, many herbaceous

                                          plants do not disappear over the winter. They remain as dead, woody tissue, various shades of

                                          brown or gray, sometimes with fruits, sometimes just as stalks; and many of them are spectacularly

                                          beautiful.  Thoreau wrote about these dried plants in his journal:

                                                  "When the ground was partially bare of snow, and a few warm days had dried its surface

                                               somewhat, it was pleasant to compare the first tender signs of the infant year just peeping

                                               forth with the stately beauty of the withered vegetation which had withstood the winter - life 

                                               everlasting, goldenrods, pinweeds, and graceful wild grasses, more obvious and interesting

                                               frequently than in summer even, as if their beauty was not ripe till then, even cotton grass, 

                                               cattails, mullein, johns-wort, hardback, meadowsweet, and other strong-stemmed plants,

                                               those unexhausted granaries which entertain the earliest birds - decent weeds at least, which

                                               widowed nature wears." .... H.D. Thoreau  

                                                       Many of them bear little resemblance to the plants that they were during the summer, for some of

                                          the most inconspicuous summer plants leave the most beautiful remains and vice versa.          

                                               ..... Lauren Brown, Weeds in Winter

                                          Lauren Brown's Weeds in Winter is a true treasure, and has appeared in numerous editions since

                                          its first appearance in 1976.  Wildflowers and Winter Weeds (1997) and Weeds and Wildflowers in

                                          Winter (2012).  All are still readily available online and in local bookstores. A copy belongs on the

                                          bookshelf of every serious Monadnock region naturalist.    ..... CS

     

        January 12, .......    While the January woods may seem lifeless, much is going on. Beavers begin breeding in late

                                          January and mate until the latter part of February. Their gestation period is 120 days. Red foxes,

                                          monogamous for life,also begin breeding in January, experiencing a gestation period of 53 days.

                                          Coyotes and bobcats are sniffing the air in anticipation of their early to mid-February breeding

                                          season. White-tailed bucks commonly lose their antlers in January.  Great horned owls, our earliest

                                          avian nesters, have been voicing their somber, six note call for months in order to establish their

                                          territories; they are now ready to begin nesting, and they will soon begin to lay eggs. An average

                                          clutch consists of two to three eggs, requiring about 30 days to hatch. Great horned owls don't

                                          build nests; instead they take over the nests of crows, ravens , or hawks, or nest on artificial

                                          platforms.  The young will hatch in March - blind, featherless, and helpless.

                                               ..... John Bates, A Northwoods Companion: Fall and Winter

 

        January 15, ........   The last two days we have had two ravens feeding on the ground under our bird feeders. This is the

                                          first time we have seen them near the feeders.  The are occasional visitors, along with the crows

                                          when we throw old bread crusts out in the yard. Normally we just hear them off in the woods.

                                                ..... Steve Harris, Hillsborough

 

        January 17, ........   Each year our winter temperatures historically bottom out during the last couple of weeks of January.

                                          Even though our daylight period has been slowly on the increase since the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21),

                                          temperatures continue to drop until the beginning of February. Our normal average low temperature

                                          during this time is 8 degrees F.  Historically, our regional record low temperatures have hit 30 degrees

                                          below  twice,  once in 1935 and again in 1957, both as recorded in Keene. Unofficial lows touching

                                          35 below were recorded during those same time periods.   ..... Chuck Schmidt, Hancock

 

          January 17, .......   Yesterday I was waiting while my car was serviced in Keene. I decided to take a walk along the road

                                           south of the dealership which dead ends in about a half mile.  Aside from a few chickadees and blue

                                           jays, things were pretty quiet. The I noticed a pair of what I am pretty sure were ravens flying along

                                           the large hill to the west.  They almost appeared to be playing, looping back and forth along the top

                                           of the hill. I watched them for almost 10 minutes before continuing on my walk.  ..... Ed Steele, Keene

                                                Ravens will be nesting at the end of the month and during February. This may well have been

                                           a courting flight which can often be quite complex and seemingly almost playful.  .... CS

 

        January 18, ........    "The trees down the boulevard stand naked in thought,

                                           their abundant symmetry  wordage silenced, caught

                                           in the grim undertow; naked trees confront

                                           implacable winter's long, cross questioned brunt."

                                                   ..... D.H. Lawrence, Winter in the Boulevard,

                                                         submitted by Ellen Taylor, Rindge                                       

 

        January 19, .......      During the last two weeks, we have been hearing intermittent coyote calls at night off in the distance

                                            north of our home here in Brattleboro. Yesterday my neighbor called me to tell me that she saw two

                                            very large coyotes walk through her backyard.  She said they were walking slowly and didn't seem

                                            to be aware of her presence at the window.  This was the first time she had even seen them in her

                                            yard, although she did say that she too had heard them a couple of times at night  last week.

                                                 ..... Maureen Pratt, Brattleboro

                                               

        January 21, ........    My new neighbor and her grandson were waiting for his school bus shortly before 8:30 this morning

                                           when they spotted what they thought might be a snowy owl in a tree in the SW corner of the Norway

                                           Hill Orchard in Hancock. I got my binocs and thought it was a snowy as well. This view was from the

                                           road quite some distance from the bird.  I watched only briefly as I was on my way to work. My neighbor

                                           investigated after I left and realized it was a red-tail not a snowy, beautiful as it flew off. She also                                           

                                           reported that her son has seen a family of red foxes who likely live close to the orchard as well.

                                               ..... Theresa Earle, Hancock

                                           

        January 24, .......    The Turkey Chronicles - This year's winter flock of wild turkeys continues to visit my backyard to

                                           forage under the bird feeders and scratch for food in the woods around the yard.  The flock still

                                           numbers around 19 individuals. A few days ago, I was surprised to see the group had swollen to

                                           26 individuals, but the next day and thereafter it was back down to 19,  Visiting relatives ? New

                                           Hampshire Fish and Game is currently conducting its annual Winter Wild Turkey Survey. The Survey

                                           started on January 1 and will continue until March 31. The public is invited to participate via the

                                           on-line survey sheet which can be accessed at www.wildnh.com/surveys/turkey.html  Last winter,

                                           volunteer turkey watchers reported on 730 individual flocks which totaled 12,574 turkeys. More

                                           information  can be obtained at:  www.wildlife.state.nh.us/newsroom/news.html?news=274  New

                                           Hampshire now has an estimated 40,000 wild turkeys. Their presence in the state is a true wildlife

                                           restoration success story. By the mid-1800s wild turkeys had disappeared from the state due to

                                           overhunting and habitat loss due to land clearing. Their recovery began with a reintroduction of

                                           25 turkeys in Walpole by NH Fish and game in 1975.     ..... Chuck Schmidt, Hancock 

 

        January 30, ......  Fresh snow has come and more will be with us soon. Once again, we may have the thrill of

                                  finding animal tracks and signs. fresh snow can dramatically reveal the story of animal life

                                  quickly and obviously. Snow is not the best medium for studying tracks as it settles rapidly, melts

                                  easily and loses depth and structure. Also, drifting snow obliterates tracks. Mud or moist sand 

                                  are best - but with winter upon us, snow will be the most likely source of the excitement that

                                  accompanies the discovery of tracks, in the yard or on the trail. Animal scat and territorial 

                                  markings are another possible source of education in the natural world. Also, observations of

                                  fur caught on a branch, claw marks on a log, etc., coupled with the tracks and scat, help you

                                  identify the animal that has crossed you path. It is not always possible to identify an animal from

                                  its tracks alone, so don't be discouraged if you cannot determine what has caused the tracks. 

                                  Books which may be of value on this subject are: "Animal Tracks", Peterson Field Guide, and

                                  "Track Finder" nature Study Guides. Also, for general natural history in winter, I suggest "A Guide

                                  to Nature in Winter", Stokes and Prince.  .....  Matt Donachie, Friends of Pisgah

                                              One of the most effective ways to enhance you animal track recognition skills, is to get out on a

                                           field trip or workshop with knowledgeable leaders.  Two such workshops are listed in the month's

                                           MNA Natural History Events Calendar for February (see below). Another excellent resource is Paul

                                           Rezendes, "Tracking and the Art of Seeing".  Much more than a simple field guide and a "must" for

                                           Monadnock Region naturalists' bookshelves.  This is also a good tome for a reminder to renew or

                                           joint the Friends of Pisgah. Membership includes the regular newsletter "Update".  ..... CS

 

        January 30, .......     This is the ime of year I start wondering about bud growth and what the trees are doing. I saw some

                                            red elderberry buds (Sambucus racemosa) recently that were quite a beautiful sight on a winter day.

                                            Though they didn't have as  much purple on the scales as I've seen in the past they reminded me

                                            of spring. One reason I'm interested in what buds are doing so early is due to my seeing a photo

                                            captioned "The Weird Season" in the local newspaper. It showed two tree tappers tapping trees in

                                            a sugar bush, and they said that the sap is running because December was so warm. Last week we

                                            didn't see a single day above 32 degrees, so I doubt  the sap ran for long.  I suppose though when

                                            you have 6,000 trees to tap you are anxious to get started. Tapping is done these days with a plastic

                                            tube running from tree to tree and then to a collection tank or to the sugar shack. A vacuum pump

                                            helps gravity make sure the sap flows as it should. It's quicker and easier for the syrup makers and

                                            it is also more sanitary but I prefer to seeing the old steel buckets hanging on the trees.

                                                ..... Allen Norcross, Jaffrey, NH Garden Solutions

                                               Follow this, and Allen's always interesting posts, and beautiful accompanying photography at

                                             https://nhgardensolutions.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/things-ive-seen-63/  Allen's observations

                                            and photographs of lichen, mosses, and a myriad of some of Mother Nature's smaller creations

                                            are always fascinating and instructive.  ..... CS

 

        January 31, .......      Some recent natural history related articles worth tracking down.

                                             

                                                 - Northern Woodlands Magazine - Spring 2016

                                                        - A Bobolink's Carbon Footprint,  Brian Pfeiffer

                                                        - How Beavers Recycle Tree Defenses,  Dietland Moller-Schwarze

                                                        - The Great Forest Migration, Benjamin Lord

                                                        - Declining Moose Populations: What Does the Future Hold ?,  Susan C. Morse

                                                        - Red Pine, The Overstory,  Virginia Barlow

                                                  

                                                  - New Hampshire Wildlife Journal

                                                         - Visitors From the North,  Pam Hunt

                                                         - Winter Cusk,  Andrew Schafermeyer

                                                         - Ruffed Grouse,  Lindsay Webb

 

                                                   - Northern Woodlands - e-mail Newsletter

                                                          - When a Tree Falls in a Forest,  Rebecca Heisman

                                                          - Burdock: A Food That Will Really Grab You,  Benjamin Lord

                                                          - In January, Owl Courtship Begins,  Carolyn Lone 

 

 

 

         MONADNOCK MUSINGS                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

 

                                        Porcupines Staying Warm Inside and Outside Their Dens - Mary Holland                                   

 

                                           If you have ever set eyes on a porcupine den, be it in a hollow tree or rocky ledge, you know

                                    that protection from the elements, especially cold temperatures, appears limited. While there is

                                    slightly better thermal protection in a rock den as opposed to a hollow tree, neither has any

                                    insulation other than the ever-accumulating bed of scat on the floor of the den, and the entrance 

                                    is wide open.  Even so, porcupines save an average of 16% of their metabolic energy by occupying 

                                    their dens instead of open terrain, due primarily to the shelter from the wind that it provides. In

                                    addition, porcupines have two layers of fur which insulate them so efficiently that the outside of

                                    their bodies are approximately the same temperature as their surroundings, minimizing heat loss.

 

                                           Often at this time of year, porcupines stake out their den trees by eating patches of inner bark,

                                    or cambium, with exposed, fresh inner wood announcing their occupancy.  Typically, if a tree 

                                    den is used year after year, they gnaw off a portion of bark each year, sometimes eating the old

                                    scarred portion which, due to previous chewing, lacks cambium cells, indicating that this behavior

                                    is not for the purpose of obtaining nutrients.

 

                                         Porcupines do venture out of their dens and spend seven to twelve hours a day outside without

                                    the protection of wooden or rock walls. How can they survive this environment ? When outside the

                                    den (usually when feeding at night), they are often in conifer stands, and a coniferous habitat provides

                                    the same energy savings as a den. Eastern hemlock, which is a preferred winter food, has needles 

                                    layered so thickly that porcupines don't lose a lot of heat to the open sky. The trunks and foliage

                                    of hemlock also re-radiate at night some of the energy that they absorb in the day.   

 

                                                   ..... Excerpted, with permission, from Mary's Blog/website "Naturally Curious With Mary Holland."

                                   

                                       Follow all of Mary's fascinating regional natural history posts as well as her exquisite photography

                                       at the site https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com                                 

                                      

 

  

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        MONADNOCK SKIES -  MONADNOCK SKIES ........  February 2016

 

           

        February,  ..........     Winter Skies -  The brightest star in our sky Sirius shines with a visual magnitude of -1.44. This

                                             means that it is twice as bright as its nearest rival Canopus and its next brightest rival Alpha

                                             Centauari. These two rivals are not visible north of the tropics, so that makes Sirius even more  

                                             dominant in our northern skies.  If one were to take the next four rivals, all visible in the northern

                                             hemisphere,  Arcturus, Vega, Capella and Rigel, and combine them, they would be just a touch 

                                             brighter than Sirius standing alone. This makes Sirius about 1600 times brighter than the faintest 

                                             star visible to someone with good eyesight observing on a clear, dark night. The brightest star in

                                             the constellation Canis Major, Sirius is nicknamed "The Dog Star" for obvious reason. When   

                                             viewing the star Sirius with the naked eye, through binoculars or a  telescope, the observer is 

                                             treated to a phenomenon not visible when viewing even brighter planets like Venus or Jupiter,

                                             both currently visible in our morning sky.  Sirius, like all stars is a "point source" of light and is  

                                             therefore subject to "twinkling" as its light passes through our atmosphere.  Sirius is often thought

                                             of as brilliant white. This twinkling or astronomical phenomenon known as "scintillation" causes

                                             the star to exhibit a variety of hints of color of varying hues and intensity.  The sapphire white

                                             is therefore often tinged with sparkles and tints, including emerald, ruby and amethyst. This is more 

                                             prominent in the first hour or two after rising,  as the star's light passes through a thicker and more                

                                             turbulent section of the atmosphere.  Try observing this winter visitor on a crystal clear, cold winter         

                                             night and prepare to be delighted......                                     

 

        February, ...........     The Planets This Month -  Jupiter is moving into the evening sky.  At the start of February,

                                             Jupiter rises about three hours after sunset. By the end of the month, the giant planet will be rising

                                             about a half an hour after sunset. Monadnock Skywatchers will be able to see five naked eye planets

                                             in the pre-dawn hours during the first week of the month. facing southeast, the planets Mercury,  

                                             Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter will be arranged in a diagonal line from left (east) to right (south).

                                             Mercury will be the lowest  (and hardest to see) object at the lower left of this line, with Venus,

                                             Saturn, Mars and Jupiter higher and higher to the right (south).  Mercury will be easiest to see

                                             on the 6th or 7th when it reaches its "Greatest Western Elongation" from the sun (26 degrees). Its

                                             magnitude will be around + 0.1.  The stars Antares (just below and to the right of Saturn)  and Spica

                                             (between Mars and Jupiter) will also be visible along this diagonal.

 

        February 3, ........       Bright International Space Station Passage --  Weather permitting, the ISS will put in a very 

                                              bright and nearly overhead passage early in the evening tonight in the Monadnock region. To view

                                              the ISS passage, face the WSW at a minute or two before the scheduled appearance 10 degrees above

                                              the horizon at 6:22:44 PM. The ISS will appear as a starlike object slowly rising toward the zenith.

                                              It will reach its maximum altitude of 80 degrees in the SE at 6:25:59 PM where it will reach magnitude

                                              - 3.5, about as bright a it ever gets. After reaching its high point, the ISS will move downward,

                                              passing near the very bright star Capella (magnitude - 0.48) in the constellation Auriga, before

                                              winking out about 38 degrees above the ENE horizon as it passes into the earth's shadow.  As the

                                              satellite passes overhead, it will be at an altitude of 404 kilometers or 251 miles. The height of the

                                              ISS above the earth's surface varies slightly over time as it is periodically "reboosted"  slightly to                          

                                              compensate for altitude lost by atmospheric drag with the extremely thin atmosphere found at

                                              that altitude above the earth. There are currently six crew members aboard the ISS on Mission 46.   

                                                 

        February 5, ........        Old Crescent Moon near Venus and Mercury in the pre-dawn sky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

        February 8, .........       New Moon                                        

 

        February 12, .......       Bright Iridium Flare in the Keene Area -  Weather permitting, Keene area viewers will be able

                                               to observe a very bright Iridium Flare early this evening. To view the flare, face the NNE (azimuth

                                               20 degrees) a few minutes before the flare scheduled at 6:56:50 PM. View the area approximately

                                               halfway up from the horizon  (altitude 42 degrees)  The flare will last only a few seconds and will 

                                               a very bright  - 8.0 magnitude.  This particular  flare is the result of sunlight reflecting off the body 

                                               and solar panels of the Iridium 68 satellite.   

 

       February 15, .......      First Quarter Moon

                                                .                           

       February 22, .......      Full Moon -  The Snow Moon -  Snowfall usually peaks in February hence the nickname for the

                                                February full moon.  Among native American tribes that used The Snow Moon as the name for the 

                                                January full moon, the February full moon was called The Hunger Moon due to the challenging

                                                hunting conditions and general scarcity of food.                                                        

 

         February 23, .......      Jupiter and the near full moon are only 2 - 4 degrees apart tonight.                                       

 

 

 

 

   MONADNOCK REGION NATURAL HISTORY EVENTS CALENDAR -  February 2016                  

 

 

                                         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.

    

 

       February 6, ......       Two Part - Beekeeping Course -  Session One - Pollinators are in the news and backyard

                                           beekeeping is on the rise. A two session course will be offered to teach what it takes to keep

                                           honeybees, what equipment is needed, and what isn't.  The course will cover honeybee biology,

                                           behavior, hive management, how to spot disease or pests, and more.  provided by the Monadnock

                                           Beekeepers Association.  Session One - February 6, Session Two - February 13. Attendees should

                                           take both parts to get the full benefits of the course. Held from 9 AM to 2 PM at the Historical Society

                                           of Cheshire County, 246 Main Street in Keene. Suggested reading is Beekeeping For Dummies by

                                           Howard Blackiston. Limited copies will be available at the class for purchase.  Companion courses

                                           will be offered March through August through the Monadnock Beekeepers Association. The fee for

                                           the two session course will be $75. For more information  mbabeekeepingclass@gmail.com

                                     

       February 7, ......       Hike in Hancock's Big Woods -  Meade Cadot and Russ Daigle will lead an easy, 3.5 mile snowshoe

                                           hike along the Channing, Boulder, and dandylyon trails through the large block of protected land once

                                           known as "The Big Woods."  In the 19th century, when most of the region was cleared for agriculture,

                                           these woodlands were spared, courtesy of the large boulders that made it difficult for loggers to clear

                                           the land. Bring water and snowshoes.  Meet at 9:30 AM at the Harris Center, Back by 12:30 PM. For

                                           more information contact Russ 477-7506 or Meade 525-3394.  Harris Center program.

 

       February 13-14,....   New Hampshire Backyard Winter Bird Survey -  The NH Audubon backyard Winter Bird 

                                            Survey will take place on these two dates. Biologists need assistance from citizens all over the 

                                            Granite state to get a clear picture of what's really happening with our winter birds.  Anyone can

                                            participate in this survey by counting birds in their backyards on the survey weekend, and reporting

                                            on line or sending the results on a special reporting form to NH Audubon.  Data from the Survey is

                                            used to track changes in the distribution and abundance of many species. All NH residents are

                                            encouraged to participate. Forms are available at www.nhaudubon.org under "birding"                                  

 

       February 13, .....      Deering Wildlife Sanctuary Timber Harvest Tour -  Join Phil Brown (NH Audubon), Matt Tarr

                                           (UNH Cooperative Extension), Jeremy Turner (Meadowsend Timberlands), and Wendy Ward (Natural

                                           Resources Conservation Service) for a tour of an active timber harvest on NH Audubon's second

                                           largest property. This walking tour will demonstrate how carefully planned timber harvests can be

                                           designed to improve wildlife habitat and accomplish additional goals. Wildlife experts and foresters

                                           will discuss how various management techniques can benefit a diverse assortment of wildlife -

                                           including many of our familiar bird species. Meet at 9 AM at the upper parking area of the Deering

                                           Wildlife Sanctuary on Clement Hill Road in Deering. Dress for the weather and bring water, a snack,

                                           and snowshoes. Back by noon.  Cosponsored with NH Audubon and UNH Cooperative Extension.

                                           Please RSVP to Phil Brown 525-3499.

 

       February 14, .....      Wildlife Tracking Workshop -  February begins the breeding season for many wild mammals in

                                           the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire - an excellent time to learn more about the wildlife that 

                                           inhabit our forests and fields in winter, and what better day for this workshop than Valentines Day !

                                           Jeff Littleton, Chief Ecologist and owner of Moosewood Ecological and adjunct professor of 

                                           Environmental Studies at Antioch New England, will lead the workshop.  There will be a short indoor

                                           presentation, followed by a hike through the fields, forests and wetlands of Distant Hill Gardens in

                                           Walpole. We will be looking for tracks and other clues created by wildlife that tell the story of their

                                           lives and their attempt to survive. Bring snowshoes if necessary and dress for the weather. If you

                                           don't have snowshoes, there will be a limited number available to borrow.  1 PM to 3 PM. Suggested

                                           donation $10 per adult. Please register in advance since space is limited. For additional information,

                                           a list of 2016 programs, and directions to Distant Hill Gardens, visit www.distanthillgardens.org  To

                                           register distanthillgardens@gmail.com   Distant Hill Gardens program.

 

       February 17, .....      Nature on Tap: Intoxication in the Animal Kingdom -  Join Brett Amy Thelen for stories of

                                           intoxication in the animal kingdom. From boozy bears to wasted waxwings, walloped wallabies to

                                           tipsy tree-shrews, we'll separate fact from fiction in this light-hearted happy hour conversation.  5:30

                                           to 6:30 PM at the Hancock Inn, Drinks on you, conversation on us. Seating is limited and reservations

                                           are required. To register, contact Sara LeFebvre 525-3394.  Harris Center program.

 

       February 21, .....      Bald Mountain Hike -  Russ Daigle and Rich Taylor will lead a moderately strenuous, 2.5 mile

                                            roundtrip snowshoe hike to the top of Bald Mountain in Marlow. Bring snowshoes, water and lunch

                                            to enjoy while taking in glorious views of Mount Monadnock. Meet at 10 AM at the Marlow Town office

                                            on Rt 123. Back by 2 PM. For more information, contact Russ 477-7506 or Rich 827-4105.  Harris Center

                                            program.

   

       February 14, .....       Winter Survival School for Middle Schoolers -  Join Primitive Skills Specialist Ian Lockwood for

                                            a day of winter survival skills, including fire making, shelter building, and food and water gathering.

                                            Learn how to "lost proof" your hikes and connect with your inner ancient self. This day could teach

                                            you how to save your life !  9 AM to 3 PM at the Harris Center. For ages 10 through 15. Space is limited 

                                            and registration is required.  Cost $50 Harris center members/ $60 non-members.  For more information

                                            or to register, contact Sara LeFebvre at 525-3394 or lefebvre@harriscenter,org

      

       February 22-24, ....   Winter Adventures Vacation Camp -  It's time to register for Winter Adventures, a three day winter

                                             vacation camp, filled with snow shoeing , fort building, animal tracking, nature crafts, games, songs,

                                             and more. 9 AM to 3 PM at the Harris Center. Snow date Thursday, February 25th.  For children grades

                                             K - 4.  Cost $120 Harris Center members/ $150 non-members.  Space is limited and registration is

                                             required.  For more information or to register, contact Sara LeFebvre at 525-3394.   Harris Center

                                             program.

 

       February 24, .....        Winter Mammal Tracking and Wildlife Ecology -  February begins the breeding season for

                                             many wild mammals. Learn animal tracking tips and who is most active in the winter woods during

                                             this workshop led by Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forest's Dave Anderson. A 30

                                             minute indoor presentation will review four basic track patterns followed by a guided outdoor hike.

                                             BYO snowshoes. A moderately difficult off-trail hike may be possible depending upon snow and

                                             tracking conditions. Held at the Hay and Fells Forest Reservation in Newbury from 1 PM to 4 PM.

                                             Meet at the Reservation Gatehouse.  Fee, SPNHF members $16, nonmembers $20. Snow date

                                             February 25th. Limit of 20 participants, registration required. To register call (603) 763-4789 Ext 3. 

                                             Cosponsored by SPNHF and The Fells.   

 

       February 28, .....        Winter Shrub and Tree Identification Workshop -   This workshop is a great way to learn more

                                             about the woody plants that grow in the forests, fields and wetlands of the Monadnock region, and the

                                             importance of these plants to the winter survival of many wildlife species.  Steve Roberge, Forest

                                             Resource Specialist with Cheshire County Extension, will lead the workshop. He will be discussing

                                             the key things to look for when attempting to identify woody plants in winter - things such as overall

                                             form,  bark, twig features, leaf scars and fruit remnants.  There will be a short indoor presentation, but

                                             the majority of the workshop will be held outdoors. Bring snowshoes (just in case), a hand lens if you

                                             have one, and dress for the weather. If you don't have snowshoes, there will be limited number

                                             available to borrow.  1 PM to 3 PM at Distant Hill Gardens in Walpole. Suggested donation $10 per

                                             adult. For additional information, directions, and 2016 program Info.  www.distanthillgardens.org  To

                                             register  distanthillgardens@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

    MONADNOCK NATURAL HISTORY RESOURCES  

 

 

 

.                        ..........    Animal Mouths - Mary Holland - (2015)  What are some things we can learn about animals from

                                       the shape of their mouths, beaks, or bills ? What can we infer about animals with sharp teeth

                                       compared to large, flat teeth ? Are there any animals that don't have mouths ? In this second book

                                       in her Animal Anatomy and Adaptation series, award-winning nature photographer and environmental

                                       educator Mary Holland shares animal mouths with readers of all ages. Selected as one of 2016's                            

                                       Outstanding Trade Books for Students K-12, a cooperative project of the National Science Teachers

                                       Association and the Children's Book Council. Her previous effort in this series Ferdinand Fox's First

                                       Summer also received  this recognition in 2012.  

 

                         ..........    Life in the Cold: An Introduction to Winter Ecology - Peter Marchand - 4th Edition (2014) -

                                       The MNA first listed this as a resource almost five years ago. This is a newer edition since then.

                                        One of the best books around providing a beautifully written balance between a very readable

                                        book for both the informed layperson naturalist and those with more of a scientific background. It

                                        has been described as an ideal entry into the subject of winter ecology, providing basic information

                                        about snowpack, plant and animal mechanisms of winter survival on both land and in fresh water.

                                        The type of book you pick up and give a re-read every couple of years. Should be in the library of

                                        every serious Monadnock region naturalist.

 

                         ..........    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."

                                        (www.northernwoodlands.org)                                     

                                                                

                               ........ 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:

                                         (http://www.nhaudubon.org/programs/field)      

 

                                                                                             

 

                                                     

  REGIONAL NATURAL HISTORY , RECREATIONAL, EDUCATIONAL, AND CONSERVATION ORGANIZATIONS

 

 

                                .......    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.

                                            https://www.forestsociety.org

 

                                   ........ 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:                                        

                                    (www.monadnockconservancy.org)

 

                                   ........ 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. 

                                            (http://www.wapack.org/index.html)

 

                                   ........ 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.

                                            (http://www.keeneastronomy.org/)

 

 

 

                                         

  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.

                                       (http://manitowishriver.blogspot.com)

      

                         ..........   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. 

                                      (http://www.noaa.gov)

                 

                           .......... 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.

                                      (https://nhmountainlion.wordpress.com/about/#comment-71)

 

                           .........   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/)