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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. 




                                                   " Tis distance lends enchantment to the view, and robes the mountains in its azure

                                                      hue."    .....  Thomas Campbell                                  




  MONADNOCK NATURE NOTES........ October 2015


                                        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.



      October, .......          " If technology, with all its practical laws of efficiency, were in charge of everything we would have to

                                        dispense with the autumn color in our woodlands. Not with the trees, which are models of efficiency

                                        in most of their processes, but with color itself, which apparently has no purpose whatsoever. People         

                                        may think it is beautiful, but it isn't needed for the trees' health, growth or fruitfulness. In technical

                                        terms,  the color is a waster, sheer excess and leftover. It is created by substances revealed only when  

                                        the tiring tree seals off the sap circulation and no longer replenishes the chlorophyll in the leaves. The  

                                        old chlorophyll disintegrates and yellow pigments called carotene and xanthophyll, related to our daily 

                                        vitamins, becomes visible. The reds and purples appear when the sun has oxidized sugars and acids 

                                        the tree has abandoned in the leaves. When the leaves have passed their peak of brilliance and fallen 

                                        from the trees, they molder into humus that will eventually feed the parent tree as well as other plants. 

                                        But the color adds nothing to the humus. Leaves that wither and turn brown make the same kind of

                                        humus as those most dazzling red or brilliant yellow. There is no difference between the leaf mold 

                                        under a ruby-red swamp maple and that under an upland rock maple that was sun gold. Fortunately

                                        there is no technology among trees. Especially in October, when those useless pigments and that

                                        left-over sugar and acid flare into all this superfluous color. Whether the trees need it or not, it is

                                        magnificent."    ..... Hal Borland. Twelve Moons of the Year


      October 2, .........    There are a few weeks in September and October when acorns (and beech nuts) are mature enough

                                        to eat, but haven't yet fallen to the ground. Porcupines take advantage of this nutritious supply of

                                        food that is not yet accessible to small rodents, deer and turkeys, and climb oak trees to consume

                                        acorns. Because an average porcupine weighs between 12 and 35 pounds, it is unable to climb all 

                                        the way out to the end of a branch, where acorns are located, so it nips off the tips of fruit bearing

                                        branches and then scoops out the acorn leaving the cap still attached to the branch. When all the

                                        acorns on a branch have been eaten, the branch is discarded. (diagnostic porcupine sign). You can

                                        often find many of these branch tips or "nip twigs" in the canopy of large oaks during a good mast

                                        year, but inevitably some fall to the ground. The end of the twig is usually cut at a 45 degree angle,

                                        and often you can see the lines made by the porcupine's incisors. (Beechnuts are also harvested in

                                        this manner, as are the cones and terminal buds of eastern hemlock in winter). Red squirrels also 

                                        nip twigs to reach fruit, but typically do so when they harvest the cones and terminal buds of

                                        conifers.   ..... Mary Holland, Hartland, Vt.  With permission, from her blog/website Naturally Curious With

                                          Mary Holland     (https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com)                                            

                                           Be sure and check out Mary's blog on a regular basis. One of the handful of "must" destinations

                                           on the web for regional naturalists. Mary's always informative and fascinating regular posts are

                                           also accompanied by her beautiful photography...... and don't forget the availability of her 2016

                                           Calendar.  Please  see the MNA Natural Resources section this month for more information.  ... CS


      October 6, .........     Beautiful on the mountain today - - light northwest winds, a few high clouds, shirtsleeve weather.

                                        Relatively few migrants -  zero ospreys and eagles - notably - but still lots of action in the airspace

                                        around Pack today, including six red-tailed Hawks (all apparently locals) wafting back and forth 

                                        above North pack all afternoon.  Gina the owl had close shaves with Kestrel, Merlin, Cooper's Hawk,

                                        and Sharp-shin: the shutter-clicking of photographers this afternoon rivaled a Hollywood red-carpet

                                        shindig, and the guests were just as chic. The late day Merlin show was memorable, with one bird 

                                        catching, dropping, catching, eating, and then releasing the leftovers of an unfortunate sulphur

                                        butterfly, all directly overhead.  .... Henry Walters, Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory, Peterborough 


      October 8, .........    "Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking

                                        the successive autumns."   ...... George Elliot, Submitted by Ellen Davis, Brattleboro


      October 8, .........    Today's weather was just about the best October has to offer.  A light, NW wind gradually slowed to

                                        calm, whispering through the changing leaves and giving the raptors a gentle push southward.  A few

                                        wisps of cloud highlighted the sky which ranged in hue from the softest cornflower blue of the horizon

                                        to the sapphire at the apex. Temperatures ranged from the low 40s to the low 50s. Although last night's

                                        cold front was a weak one, it seems that it was just the impetus needed to send a wave of migrants in 

                                        our direction.  As expected., the day was dominated by Sharp-shinned Hawks, though it was the 

                                        sharpie's large cousin that stole the show. The first Northern Goshawk of the day was an adult bird 

                                        found by a young Cooper's Hawk. She was quick to teach him a lesson and chase him back towards

                                        North pack with the threat of death if he dove at her again. The later three goshawks were all juveniles,

                                        soaring with the prowess of buteos and harassing other migrants with the tenacity of the rest of the

                                        accipiter clan.  ..... Katrina Fenton, Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory, Peterborough 


      October 13, ........   Autumn Foliage - 2015   Last week I took drives on three different days in search of autumn foliage to

                                        photograph. Finding the ideal combination of foliage and light (both quality and direction are important)

                                        is not trivial. Last Wednesday (the 7th) the foliage in our "neighborhood" was good but not yet peak.

                                        thus, I decided to head north. I meandered as far as Rumney, NH before turning around in late afternoon.

                                        The weather was not completely cooperative but I made a few nice photos before the clouds moved in.

                                         Friday (the 9th) dawned foggy and rainy. I took the camera with me and after finishing my errands, I

                                         wandered the back roads on my way home looking for interesting photographs. Saturday (the 10th), I

                                         took an indirect route (via South Newbury, Bradford and Washington) home.  ..... Frank Gorga, Antrim

                                              Check out these and Frank's other beautiful photographic efforts at his blog site "Photographs by

                                         Frank"  www.gorga.org/blog/  Always worth a visit to Frank's blog site to see what he's been up to

                                         photographically.    ..... CS


      October 14, .........   The American Birding Association is right on as it states "As reliable as the mudflats full of shorebirds

                                         and the first frost, there's no surer sign of the changing seasons than Ron Pittaway's "Annual Winter

                                         Finch Report." The focus of "What to expect when you are expecting irruptive finches" is always on

                                         Ontario, but Pittaway's insights are extrapolated by birders all over New England to give a reliable

                                         picture of what is most probable for the upcoming winter season. Access this year's forecast at

                                         www.jeaniron.ca/2015/forecast15.htm    ..... CS


      October 14, ........    Things I've Seen -  Something I like to do every now and then is watch the waves on the Ashuelot

                                         River. The river has a rhythm and its waves format fairly regularly spaced intervals. I also found a

                                         single example of a concentric boulder lichen (Porpidia crustulata) a few years ago and haven't seen

                                         one since until recently. Though it's very hard to find it's easy to identify; the body (thalus) of the 

                                         lichen is always ashy gray and its black spore bearing bodies (Apothecia) grow in concentric rings

                                         around its center. It is not one of the prettiest lichens but it is one of the rarest in this area and I was

                                         happy to see it.  Dog lichens aren't rare but they are unusually big for a lichen; I've seen hand size

                                         examples. Lichens like water and can be found growing beside or even among water retaining

                                         mosses.  Because it's been so dry it's been a rough summer for water loving mosses and lichens,

                                         but they are very patient and simply sit and wait for rain. The rain we had last week perked them right

                                         up and this dog lichen was pliable once again instead of crisp. If you want to know what one feels like

                                         just pinch your earlobe. The lichen is thinner but it feels much the same.   ..... Allen Norcross, Jaffrey

                                            Access  the rest of this post and a wide variety of Allen's other natural history related posts and

                                         beautiful accompanying photography at  https://nhgardensolutions.wordpress.com/2015/10/                                         

                                         on the list of Recent Posts options for his latest observations and photographs.  Regular visits are

                                         the equivalent of taking a graduate course in lichens, mosses, wildflowers, etc ....  A must site for all

                                         Monadnock region natural history lovers.   .... CS


      October 15, ........    Blue Skies by Day Become Starlit Skies by Night - I've written a lot about the attention-grabbing raptors

                                         that crowd daytime mid-September skies by the thousands. Less noticed are the songbird migrants

                                         that crowd the dark skies of night. One reason for the nocturnal flight of songbirds: avoiding raptor

                                         predators that fly by day. But that's just a small part of the story. far more interesting ate their skills as

                                         celestial navigators, whether its stars by night or sun by day. Many experiments have documented

                                         heightened hopping and wing-fluttering activity directed toward the south of a captive bird's cage in

                                         fall and toward the north in spring. For nocturnal migrants, restlessness is greatest at night, coinciding

                                         with their time of flight. Prime trigger is shifting photoperiods of night and day that in turn trigger

                                         hormonal changes kinked to restlessness and, importantly, the ability to store fat. Heightened activity

                                         is focused on feeding and fat deposition.  Nocturnal migrants navigate by stars and "know" to

                                         compensate for their shifting position overhead as the earth rotates.  Fixing on the north star assists

                                         in that knowing. As for knowing when the journey is done, birds detect the earth's magnetic field that

                                         weakens near the equator. This helps a migrant determine latitude, or distance from the equator.  How

                                         birds determine longitude, east and west, is a greater mystery, but birds trapped and transported far

                                         to the east and west of their breeding or wintering sites can find their way back to that specific location.

                                         Given that concept some thought, and its complex challenges becomes clear. North and south are

                                         assisted by magnetic field, star position relative to the north star, and visual north-south leading lines

                                         along rivers, coasts and mountain ranges. But what guides are there for east-west determination ?

                                         I'm still searching out answers on that one and evidently not alone.   .... Francie Von Mertens, Excerpted,

                                         with permission from her 10/15/2015 Monadnock Ledger-Transcript Column, Backyard Birder.

                                           Be sure and track down the rest of the column and make it a point to follow Francie's column every

                                         other week in the Ledger-Transcript.  One of the main reasons for my mailbox subscription.  .... CS 


      October 17, ........    Last weekend I had a visit from my daughter and a  friend. As always, we are always on the lookout for

                                         a nice animal sighting or two, since we always mention the frequency with which we see bear, moose,

                                         porcupines, raccoons, coyote, etc.  Alas... no sightings while they were here.  Today I had visitors  over

                                         and as we were sitting in the den, my friend said, "Hey Chuck is that a bear in the yard ?"  And lo and

                                         behold it was a youngster partaking of the downed apples out back.  We were able to watch him for 

                                         about 20 minutes before he wandered off.  I was pretty sure he (she?) had been around before since

                                         I had noticed several piles of scat (of varying ages) round the back yard in the last week or 10 days.

                                         The youngster was pretty small,  looked a little small for a yearling, more like one of this year's cubs.

                                         That would be unusual for one his age to be out and about without mom.  Maybe she was around

                                         somewhere keeping an eye on him ?    ..... Chuck Schmidt,  Hancock


      October 19, .......     Last night I looked out the window and it was snowing ! This morning there was a light coating on all

                                         the grass and dirt surfaces around the house.  Temperatures this morning were in the twenties.  A few

                                         minutes ago I noticed it was flurrying again !  Later in the day as I drove into Keene on Route 9, I ran  

                                         into a brief but heavy snow squall near Granite Lake.  Man,.... It's still just mid-October. Where is Al

                                         Gore when you need him?   .....  Steve Harris. Hillsborough


      October 20, ........    "Ah! the year is slowly dying,

                                         And the wind in tree-top sighing,

                                         Chant his requiem.

                                         Thick and fast the leaves are falling,

                                         High in air wild birds are calling,

                                         Nature's solemn hymn."

                                             Mary Weston Fordham. submitted by

                                             Ellen Taylor, Rindge


      October 20, .......     Tis a puzzlement.  .....  My apple trees in the field across the street from my house continue to pose some

                                         questions. They appear to be bi-annual. They seem to alternate between years with no apples to years

                                         with amazingly abundant crops.  This year was one of the latter, with the branches so laden with fruit that

                                         the lower ones were bent close to the ground.  The apples on these trees (unknown variety) never ripen'

                                         remaining a pale green till they drop.  Even the drop is not a simple process. This year, they are already

                                         all on the ground.  They seemingly all dropped within a couple of days.  The drop was so precipitous

                                         that each tree seems to have a circular carpet of light green under it.  There was no heavy wind or heavy,

                                         torrential rainfall to precipitate the sudden drop.  Just another of Mother Nature's mischievous ways to

                                         keep you on your toes.   .....  Chuck Schmidt, Hancock


      October 21, .......     About this time each year we are invaded with an infestation of "cluster flies" in our sunny, east and south

                                         facing front windows.  I am sure that most Monadnock Region owners of older homes are familiar with

                                         this occurrence. This year is no exception.  However, the numbers seem to be a bit below the average of

                                         the last couple of years.  An interesting sidelight to this phenomenon is a new wrinkle to my indoor insect

                                         observations. During the last week or so, I have seen about a dozen wasps in the inside of my kitchen

                                         windows (again south and east facing)   I have no idea where they are coming from. The windows all

                                         have storm windows on them and seem to be pretty tight and weather sealed. This is a new one on me.

                                         A check with my NE insect field guide seems to point to the common brown paper wasp. Softie that I am,

                                         I tend to capture them in a paper cup and release them outside.  Since the field guide indicates that they

                                         have a very short life span, it's the least I can do.  I don't have the same empathy for the cluster flies.

                                                ..... Steve Harris, Hillsborough 


      October 22, .........   Striped Skunks Digging For Grubs -  Congratulations to many of you who knew that the swirls/holes

                                         that are present in forest floors, lawns and anywhere there are grubs are the work of a Striped Skunk.

                                         The swirls or "twizzles" as one reader called them) are created when the skunk is actively looking for

                                          food, and probes the ground with its nose. If and when it smells a protein-rich earthworm or grub

                                          (larval insect) in the ground, it digs a hole in order to retrieve it. These cone-shaped holes are dug at

                                          night, when skunks are active, and often appear after a heavy rain. This is because grubs move closer

                                          to the surface of the ground when the ground is wet, making it easier for the skunk to smell them.

                                          When the soil dries, the grubs move back down into deeper soil and the skunks can no longer smell

                                          them -  thus no more holes will be dug. Because animals are eating voraciously in order to put fat on

                                          for the winter, signs of digging activity are frequently seen in the fall.   ..... Mary Holland, Hartland, Vt

                                             From Mary's blog/website "Naturally Curious with Mary Holland".  Mary regularly posts photos of

                                          some object or sign of natural history related activity as a "Mystery Photo"  and challenges her readers

                                          to contribute their guesses as to what is being illustrated.  Always fun and informative.  Check out

                                          Mary's blog (see October 2nd post and MNA Resouces section.)   .... CS


      October 25, .........    Some items from the "Yogi Berra - You Can Observe a Lot by Looking Files"  (.... take a moment here for 

                                          the Yog !)  Three recent items, all related in part to Mary Holland's Naturally Curious Blog/Website.  For

                                          the last two weeks or so I have seen several piles of scat in the backyard. Too large for a neighborhood

                                          dog, coyote and too small for an adult bear.  Mary recently posted an item about bear scat with an

                                          accompanying photo. That pretty much solved it for me until the clincher last week when a young bear

                                          visited the yard for my downed apples. (see Oct 17 post) . A second item posted by Mary (see Oct 22

                                          post) got me rethinking some of the small round holes in the grass of my backyard. I assumed that

                                          they were the result of my "resident" wild turkeys foraging for seeds, insects, etc.  Now I am also

                                          thinking "skunk"as a possibility. ... and lastly.... Yesterday I was driving into Hancock Village on one

                                          of my back roads.  I noticed two spots, about a half mile apart, where there were very distinctive, small  

                                          areas in the roadway where there were small tree branch segments littering the road.  I was late

                                          for an appointment and didn't have time to stop and check them out.  Now, after reading Mary's

                                          blog item (see Oct 2nd),  I'm wondering if this might be the result of the porcupine of squirrel activity

                                          that Mary refers to ? Obviously when that activity occurs in a more forested area, it goes unnoticed.

                                          In the roadway, however, it jumps right out at you.  Something else to be checked out.  

                                              ..... Chuck Schmidt, Hancock


      October 26, .........    A nice backyard sighting this morning.  While looking out the window I observed a flock of about 20

                                         or so Juncos spread out and feeding on my lawn.  This was the first time this fall that I have seen any

                                         Juncos in the yard.  I enjoy watching them as they always strike me as having a calm, relaxed demeanor

                                         when they are around. Unlike the Blue Jays who are always noisy and boisterous and the Chickadees

                                         who are nervous Nellies, constantly flitting about.  The Juncos are serene and there is something

                                         very  laid back about them. Very little motion on the ground. You never notice them because of their

                                         movements. Even their color, the soft slate-gray/brown and creamy underparts, interrupted only by

                                         a flash of tail-white when they do fly into a tree or shrub seems muted.  While I was watching them, I

                                         caught a flash of color on the ground in the tall grass and flower stalks in one of the gardens. A male

                                         Cardinal !  With him were two females.  Possibly a mate and a youngster ?  The made a nice contrast

                                         to the Juncos who were directly in front of them.   ..... Maureen Pratt, Brattleboro


      October 31, .........    Halloween - Like most contemporary celebrations, Halloween has its historical roots in the natural

                                          cycles. The celebration of Halloween was an ancient Celtic tradition marking the midway point between

                                          the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Not only did the winter season begin on this day but it was

                                          also considered by the Celts to be a sort of "crack in time," the one day of the year when the dead could

                                          revisit the living. To ward off evil spirits that might return, a new and sacred fire was lit, from which all

                                          other fires in Ireland were supposed to be lit. Our current traditions of lighting jack-o-lanterns and bon-

                                          fires are all that remain of this practice. According to the Irish tale, the "Jack" in jack-o-lantern was a

                                          man barred from both heaven and hell who was condemned to walk the earth with his lantern until

                                          Judgment Day. During the Middle Ages, officials of the Christian church transformed the occasion

                                          into All Saints" day; they regarded the day preceding it as bedeviled, because it was the prelude to

                                          the former Celtic/pagan feast day. Trick or treating apparently arose from a theater tradition, in which

                                          actors on All Saints' Day and All Souls' day dressed up in disguises, begging for rewards in return for

                                          their prayers on behalf of the dead. The prayers and the astronomy are long forgotten, of course, but 

                                          the costuming, the lit pumpkins, and the begging for treats remain.    ...... John Bates, "A Northwoods

                                             Companion: Fall and Winter





         MONADNOCK MUSINGS                            




                                                      SUCCESSION ON GRANITE - CRUSTOSE LICHENS - Tom Wessels


                                       Consider for a minute the harsh conditions which plants must contend with on a bare slab of

                                          granite. How do they get water ? How do they anchor themselves ? How do they secure nutrients ? 

                                          In combination these factors create a formidable array of conditions, so tough in fact that only one

                                          group of plants in the entire world - the crustose lichens - have been able to overcome them. Actually

                                          lichens aren't true plants.  They are a close association between fungi and either bacteria that

                                          photosynthesize and/or algae.


                                                Next time you are on a rocky granite  outcrop, look carefully to see which of the lichen growth forms

                                          are present. The crustose are morphologically the simplest. On bedrock they often look like black, gray 

                                          or green weathered paint - a thin veneer of tissue brushed directly on the rock. Crustose lichens have

                                          an array of marvelous adaptations which allow them to be the pioneers of rock outcrops. Underneath 

                                          the lichen, microscopic rootlike fungal threads called rhizinae grow between the mineral grains of 

                                          granite, anchoring the entire lichen to the rock. To get their nutrients, crustose lichens look to the air. 

                                          Many nutrients , carried into the atmosphere by wind, dissolve in rainwater, which is in turn absorbed

                                          by lichens. Many lichens having cyanobacteria which can take nitrogen gas directly from the air and  

                                          convert it to usable compounds  such as nitrates. But possibly the most unusual adaptation found in  

                                          lichens is cryptobiosis. The Latin origin of this term hints at the adaptation. Cryptobiosis is the ability

                                          of an organism to cease all metabolic activity  and molecular reactions through complete desiccation. 

                                          In other words, when lichens are in the state of cryptobiosis they might as well be dead. You could 

                                          take a lichen covered rock, place it in a vault that lacks light and humidity, and a century later remove

                                          it, place it in sunlight, spritz it with water; within a few minutes you'd see the lichen swell and begin

                                          photosynthesis and all other metabolic activities. This "on and off " habit of life allows lichens to

                                          colonize environments that can be completely desiccated for long periods of time. It is also why

                                          some lichens grow so slowly.  A crustose lichen one inch in diameter, growing on an outcrop in an

                                          arid region, can be more than a hundred years old.


                                               The first discovery of cryptobiosis occurred just after the invention of the microscope early in the

                                          seventeenth century.  At that time biologists were enamored with nematodes - small translucent,

                                          wormlike organisms - because all of their organs, including their beating hearts, could be viewed

                                          through a microscope.  As the story goes, a biologist after viewing a soil nematode - one that becomes

                                          cryptobiotic when it dries out - put the glass plate holding the nematode aside.  In time the nematode

                                          shriveled up and was taken for dead. But the glass plate was never washed . A few weeks or months 

                                          later water was accidentally splashed on the plate. Within minutes, to the surprise of the biologist, the

                                          "dead" nematode had rehydrated and was observed crawling away.  Word got out,and soil nematodes

                                          quickly became of prime interest - soon being called "resurrection worms," to the great distain of the

                                          Catholic church, whose protests prompted the new term cryptobiotic worms.


                                                  Most people are amazed when they first hear about cryptobiosis. Yet in our daily lives we are

                                          already familiar with this phenomenon. When we go to the gardening supply store and buy seeds in

                                          their tidy little packages, we are buying cryptobiotic  propagules. Most seeds, particularly those or early

                                          successional plants, are cryptobiotic. Mullein is one plant which is a master in the realm of crytobiosis.

                                          Mullein seeds recovered from crypts in British churches, where they had lain dormant for more than

                                          seven hundred years, came to life when planted.


                                                With their arsenal of adaptations, crustose lichens will quickly colonize exposed granite.  They

                                           accomplish this by wind-dispersed structures called soredia. These are microscopic balls of fungal

                                           tissue that surround a few cyanobacteria or algal cells, Once a soredium makes contact with granite,

                                           it anchors itself.  It takes at least a decade of growth before a crustose lichen becomes visible to the

                                           naked eye and close to half a century before their tissues to have covered enough of the granite to

                                           allow the colonization of the next seral stage - the foliose lichens,  which establish themselves right

                                           on top of the crustose lichens, which they consume in the process.


                                                    Adapted, with permission, from Tom Wessel's "The Granite Landscape." Tom Wessels is a Faculty Emeritus                                             

                                                    Antioch New England Graduate School.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         MONADNOCK   SKIES -  For November 2015 



        November,  ..........   Fall Skies -  As the nights start to become clear and crisp, it's time to get out and enjoy viewing the

                                             bright stars of autumn.  Throughout the month of November, as one faces north and looks about

                                             three quarters of the way up from the horizon,  you will spot the "M" or upside down "W" of the

                                             constellation Cassiopeia, the chained woman.  The five main stars in this stellar grouping are all

                                             about the same magnitude and are about equidistant above Polaris, the North Star, as the Big Dipper

                                             is below it. In the year 1572 this constellation was the site of a brilliant exploding star or "supernova".

                                             For a brief period of time this was the brightest object in the night sky. Records indicate it was even

                                             brighter than the planet Venus which achieves magnitude of - 4.6. These same records indicate that

                                             the supernova was bright enough to cast shadows.  Although many supernovae have been recorded

                                             since, none have come even close to it's brilliance. Cassiopeia is one of a small group of "circumpolar

                                             constellations" that are so close to Polaris that they never set below the horizon.

                                                 Dominating the overhead skies at mid-evening during the month is the prominent "asterism" of late

                                             fall and early winter, the "Great Square of Pegasus". Found near the zenith in early evening at

                                             mid-month, it moves a few degrees westward each night. By late November and early December it is

                                             still prominent high in the western sky.  Easy to spot, the Square measures about 15 degrees on each

                                             side (about the width of an adult hand span held at arms length). The three eastern-most stars in the

                                             Square belong to the constellation Pegasus, the winged horse.  The northeastern member of the

                                             grouping belongs to the constellation Andromeda. To experience one of the most fascinating actual

                                             "time travel" experiences available to us, try the following. Pick a clear moonless night. Find that

                                             northeastern-most star in the Square and follow the line of three slightly fainter stars that lead off to

                                             the northeast. Above the second of these stars you will see a very faint "fuzzy" patch of light. You may

                                             have to center your vision off to one side just a bit to pick it out (The edges of our retinas are more

                                             sensitive to black and white and the center to color). The object you are looking at is M31, the

                                             Great Andromeda Galaxy, the most distant object visible to the unaided human eye. This giant

                                             spiral galaxy is similar in shape to our own Milky Way Galaxy but much larger. It contains over

                                             one trillion stars,  close to twice the number in our own galaxy. M31 is over two million light years

                                             away from us. This means that light you are glimpsing tonight out of the corner of your eye left this

                                             galaxy over two million years ago and traveling at 186,000 miles per second,  is just reaching us

                                             tonight. So you are actually looking at this galaxy as it existed two million years ago !


        November, ...........   The Planets This Month - Most of this month's planetary viewing is confined to the early morning

                                             sky before dawn. Very early in the month Saturn may be glimpsed low in the WSW about an hour

                                             after sunset.  It is gone by mid-month. Viewers with an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon may

                                             be actually able to glimpse four planets simultaneously during the first week of the month. Mercury,

                                             Mars, Venus and Jupiter span 42 degrees on November 1st.  Mercury is very low in the ESE, just

                                             to the lower left of the star Spica.   To the upper right of Mercury are the planets Mars and Venus.

                                    These two planets pass very close to each other on November 3rd. To the upper right of Venus is

                                             the giant planet Jupiter.                                            


        November 2, ........    Daylight Savings Time Ends  -  Daylight savings time official ends at 2 AM this morning when we 

                                             all set our clocks back one hour ("spring forward, fall back").  Daylight Savings Time has a rather

                                             complicated and interesting history.  The concept was actually first proposed by Ben Franklin in a

                                             1784 essay "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light." The original thought was to

                                             save on the cost of candles. Following this, the idea surfaced again numerous times and was

                                             initiated in Germany in 1926 in World War I.  Other countries followed but reverted back after the war.

                                             FDR initiated it again in 1942, called "War Time." It was supposed to end in 1945, but confusion after

                                             the war, resulted in the "Uniform Time Act" in 1966.  Additional legislative modifications were made 

                                             1987 and as recently as 2005.


        November 3, .........   Last Quarter Moon  .                     


        November 8, .........   Early Morning ISS Passage -  Early risers this morning can observe a nice, bright, nearly overhead

                                             passage of the International Space Station. Weather cooperating of course.  To view the ISS, face to

                                             the WSW a minute or two before the schedued appearance at 5:24:41 AM.  The ISS will appear near

                                             the horizon, and climb slowly but steadily, through the constellation Orion, moving toward the zenith. 

                                             It skims past Castor and Pollux in the constellation Gemini before reaching its maximum altitude of 85

                                             degrees at 5:27:23 AM. At this point it will exhibit a maximum brightness of magnitude - 3.4.  Moving

                                             downward, it pases directly through the Big Dipper in the NE before passing out of view near  the

                                             horizon at 5:30:39 AM.


        November 11, .......   New Moon                                         


       November 17, .......   Leonid Meteor Shower -  Radiating from the constellation Leo the Lion, the Leonid meteor

                                              shower has produced some of the greatest meteor "storms" in history - at least one in living

                                              memory,  1966 - with rates as high as thousands of meteors per minute during one fifteen

                                              minute period. These "storms" sometimes occur in cycles of 33-34 years. In normal years, the

                                              shower produces 15-20 meteors on a dark night. This year the best viewing will probably be

                                              late on the night of the 17th and into the early morning hours of the 18th. The moon this year

                                     will be a waxing crescent which will set early enough so as not to interfere with viewing.


       November 19, .......   First Quarter Moon


       November 25, .......    Full Moon The Beaver Moon - This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to

                                               ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation of the name comes from the fact that the    

                                               beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is also sometimes called the "Frosty Moon".  







                                         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.



      November 1, ........   Thumb Mountain Hike - Join Denny Wheeler and Russ Daigle for a moderately strenuous 2.2 mile

                                          round-trip hike to the summit of Thumb Mountain and back, with views south to Mt Monadnock. Bring

                                          lunch and meet at 10 AM at the Harris Center in Hancock. Back by 2 PM. For more information, contact

                                          Denny (313-0350) or Russ (477-7506).    


      November 4, ........   Nature on tap: The Opossum's Tail and Other Strange Facts about North America's Only

                                  Marsupial - Join Susie Spikol Farber to discover the unique life story of the opossum. You'll leave

                                           this fun evening with a new appreciation for the one-of-a-kind opossum.  5:30 to 6:30 PM at the

                                           Hancock Inn, Main Street, Hancock. Drinks on you, conversation on us.  Reservations are required

                                           as space is limited. Contact Sara LeFebvre at (525-3394) or lefrbvre@harriscenter.org


     November 5, ........   Golden Visitors - Golden Eagles Visiting New Hampshire -  During the fall migrations of 2013

                                           and 2014, 18 golden eagles were observed from the pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory

                                           in Peterborough.  But you don't have to stand on a mountaintop for hours and battle numbing winds

                                           to see golden eagles in our region. Over three recent winters, NH Raptor Biologist, Chris Martin, 

                                           collaborated with a landowner and employed a "camera trapping" technique to capture images of 

                                           golden and bald eagle on the NH - Maine border near the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. Join

                                           Chris to learn more about this technique and see the images of these amazing raptors.  7:30 - 8:30

                                           PM at the McLane Audubon Center, 84 Silk Farm Road, Concord. For more information (603)224-9903.

                                           Free program but donations accepted.  NH Audubon program.   


     November 5, ........    ESI: Session Three - The Real Story of the Birds and the Bees -  1:30 - 2:30 PM.  Harris

                                           Center program. (See September MNA for more information) 


     November 6, .........   Easygoing Hike in the Deering Wildlife Sanctuary -  Join Lee Baker and Ollie Mutch for a

                                           moderately easy, 4 mile round trip hike along Black Fox and Smith Brook Trails in New Hampshire

                                           Audubon's Deering Sanctuary.  Bring lunch, and meet at 10 AM in the parking area along side of

                                           Ocean State Job Lot in Peterborough to carpool. back by 3 PM. For more information, please

                                           contact Lee at 525-5262 or Ollie at 386-5319.  Cosponsored by the Harris Center and NH Audubon.


     November 12, .......   ESI: Session Four - The Real Story of the Birds and the Bees -  1:30 - 2:30 PM.  Harris

                                            Center program. (See September MNA for more information).


     November 13, .......   Yukon Adventures - Peterborough resident Scott McGovern has captured the essence of his

                                            trip canoeing the wild Hart River in Yukon, Canada. His experience of outdoor wilderness

                                            adventure will be shared through still images, movie images and conversation with trip

                                            participants. Come join us to view his beautiful photos and learn about their experience.

                                   7 PM at the Peterborough Town Library.


      November 10, .......   Friends of Pisgah Annual Meeting -  Tuesday, 7 PM at the Millstream Community Center,

                                           Hinsdale. Business meeting. President's report. News about the park. Program speaker Marshall

                                           Patmos, retired UNH Extension Forester.


     November 14, .......   Golden Eagle Hike - 9 AM to 12:30 PM. As those chilly winds begin to blow, the hardiest of the

                                            northern raptor species begin to get a hankering for warmer climates. One of the rarest migrants

                                            seen here in NH is the Golden Eagle, only an occasional visitor passing though each spring and

                                            fall on its way to and from its breeding grounds in Quebec. While our chances may be slim, the

                                            opportunity  to see such an enormous and beautiful creature is worth the effort. We'll meet in the  

                                    parking lot at Miller State Park in Peterborough and head up to the Pack Monadnock Audubon

                                            Raptor Migration Observatory. Dress warm, pack a sandwich and don't forget those binocs. Hot

                                            chocolate will be provided.  Please R.S.V.P. to nhyoungbirders@gmail.com  if you plan to attend.

                                            "The Harriers" , New Hampshire's Young Birders Club, (Henry Walters) Program


     November 16, .......   Planning Meeting for Trip Leaders -  Join the crew of Harris Center staff and volunteer trip 

                                            leaders to plan winter outings.  We welcome ideas for new places to visit, as well as old favorites. 

                                            7 - 8:30 PM at the Harris Center. For more information please contact Eric Masterson at 525-3394.


     November 19, .......    ESI: Session Five - The Real Story of the Birds and the Bees - 1:30 - 2:30 PM. Harris  Center

                                             program. (See September MNA for more information)


     November 19, ........    Forests, Succession, and Self Organization: Why Old Forests are Important - Tom Wessels

                                              will give the scientific rationale for the importance of old forests as a functional part of our regional

                                              landscape - one that is presently under-represented, Using the principle of self-organization and its

                                              relationship to ecological succession, as wall as our current understanding of soils, the functional

                                              of old forests will be explored.  Since the western core of Pisgah State Park is our region's oldest

                                              forest, with a number of old growth stands, it will be used as an example of the importance of these

                                              forests.  7 PM, Centennial Hall, Alumni Center, Keene State College. Sponsored by Keene State

                                              College Environmental Studies Department and Pisgah Defenders.


      November 27, ........    Mount Caesar - Post - Thanksgiving Hike - Join Denny Wheeler and Brian Bishoff for good

                                             views and good cheer on this moderately easy, 2 mile round trip hike to the ledges of Mount Caesar.

                                             Meet at 11 AM at the Golden Rod Grange on Route 32 in Swanzey Center. back by 1 PM.  for more

                                             information, please contact Denny at 352-3973 or Brian at 899-5770.  Harris Center program.








                         ..........    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 aroung Peterborough, including the Library,

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


                         .........      2016 Naturally Curious Calendar -  Mary Holland will be taking orders for the 2016 Naturally

                                        Curious  Calendar until the end of October. The 8" x 11' (8" x 16 when hanging) features one of

                                        Mary's great photographs for each month, Check out the details and the ordering information at

                                        Naturally Curious blog/website  (https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/)


                         .........     The Granite Landscape - Tom Wessels - (2001) - Recently, while doing another re-reading of this,

                                        one of my personal favorites, it dawned on me that I have never included it in the MNA Resource 

                                        Section as I have for some of Tom's other efforts - (Reading the Forested Landscape).  This was an

                                        inexplicable omission.  A must for every Monadnock Region naturalist's bookshelf. It has been

                                        described as "the kind of book that naturalists hunger for, the kind that opens our eyes to a world we

                                        didn't know how to see, where continents may drift many feet in the time it takes a lichen to grow to

                                        an inch in diameter. A passionate and gifted explainer, Wessels can make you feel that you're

                                        discovering the secrets of the universe alongside of him."


                          .........    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.Harris.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.









                         ..........  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) areavailable upon request.