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. 

 

 

                                    

                                            " There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in'                   

                                               snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray , every blade of grass, every reed,

                                               every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance."   ..... William Sharp                                                

                                     

 

 

 

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

 

  

     January, .......... "We think of it as a slow and trudging journey through the valley of winter, but in reality it is a long and

                                    steady climb up the cold slope toward spring.  Now we face the best and the worst of the year's dark

                                    season, long nights, short days, brilliant starlight, a distant sun, and the inevitable change. January is

                                    cold, and February is traditionally full of snow; what warmth remains in the rocks will ooze away and

                                    the ice fangs will bite deep, even as the daylight lengthens. But the slope is upward now. The ice will

                                    melt, in due time, and the rivers will flow and brooks will leap again.  Buds, already patterned on the

                                    twig, will open. Birds will sing. These things we know, for they are as inevitable as the lengthening

                                    daylight.  The long, cold slope still lies ahead, but we have already begun the long slow climb toward

                                    spring and April."   ..... Hal Borland, Twelve Moons of the Year 

 

      January 2, ........ The Christmas Bird Count began over 100 years ago as a protest against a count of a different sort: 

                                    "sportsmen" escaping their Christmas day households to shoot anything feathered or furred and

                                    proclaiming the winning team at hunt's end.  The Christmas Count - of live birds - has grown to be the

                                    oldest, largest survey of birds, with data continent- wide and beyond collected and analyzed by

                                    National Audubon. On count day, protocol is to note all birds seen or heard within an established

                                    count circle 15 miles in diameter. .... All in all, our winter birds are doing OK.  Most are year-round

                                    residents, not the long distance migrants whose numbers have fallen off in serious and disturbing

                                    declines. Southern birds that expanded their ranges northward are doing well, titmice, mourning

                                    doves and cardinals included, as well as the more recent red-bellied woodpecker (a record high of

                                    35 this year-sighted mostly in north Hancock).  Winter robins and bluebirds continue to increase,

                                    including a record number of bluebirds (35), and second highest number of robins (484). The

                                    Christmas Bird Count: good birds, good company, good fun.  ..... Francie Von Mertens, Peterborough

                                        Excerpted from Francie's January 2nd "Backyard Birder" Column in the Monadnock Ledger-

                                    Transcript. "Backyard Birder" appears every other Thursday in the Ledger-Transcript.  Worth

                                     tracking down the entire column. A direct link wasn't working today, but if you "Google" the title,

                                     it will come up and you can access it. Well worth the effort.  .... CS                                    

 

      January 4, ........  At 1:36 AM this morning the earth reached its closest approach to the sun in its orbital path around

                                     our parent star.  I always find this "counter intuitive" event interesting since a large percentage of the

                                     population believes that our seasonal variation in weather is due to our relative distance from the

                                     sun. Today we are about 3% closer to the sun in our slightly elliptical orbit. This means that the earth

                                     is receiving slightly stronger solar radiation than in July (aphelion) and the sun's disk is also 3% 

                                     larger in the sky (apparent angular diameter). One interesting note is that our closest approach does

                                     result in our greatest orbital velocity, some 67,800 mile per hour (18.8 mile per second).  A high

                                     powered rifle bullet reaches speed just over 2,000 miles per hour.  ..... Chuck Schmidt, Hancock

 

        January 5, .......  Snowy Owl "Echo"  -  They're baaack !  Snowy owl reports are lighting up birding maps all over the

                                      northern United States. After last year's "irruption" of historic proportions, this year's reports of

                                      greater than usual numbers is thought to be what is called an "echo flight". This phenomenon

                                      is not well understood. For some additional information, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website

                                      or view this Cornell YouTube video  (https://www.youTube.com/watch?v=Ufkcx-UqljM)

                                          ..... Cornell Ornithological Laboratoty

 

      January 5, ........  While partaking of my morning cup of coffee and reading the paper at the kitchen table, I noted the

                                     bright sunshine and clear blue sky.  A few minutes later it was snowing heavily. The snow lasted for

                                     almost an hour and left as much as a half inch on the ground. Curious, I logged on to the Intellicast

                                     weather website and checked their radar.  I was amazed to see that we had received "Lake Effect

                                     Snow" from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario !  Normally our snowfall here in the Monadnock Region is

                                     due to passing low pressure systems  (either passing "clippers" from the west, more significant

                                     coastal "noreasters"), passing frontal systems, and the occasional local "orographic" snow shower

                                     due to elevation factors.  But today, viewing the radar, there was a wide and distinct band of snow

                                     stretching from western New York,  streaming completely across that state, across southern Vermont

                                     and extending all the way into southern New Hampshire.  Wow.... add that one to the list ! 

                                         ..... Chuck Schmidt, Hancock

 

      January 9, ........  On January 7th at about 7 PM, I left the front porch to enter the big shed for an armload of wood. Just

                                     as I turned on the light, I very nearly stepped on a little porcupine (And I was wearing only moccasins.)

                                     As it was, I got a small quill in my pants leg. Because of many past encounters with these quillpigs, I

                                     couldn't just let this one be; I had to interfere - get it to react more as it faced the corner, bristling. So

                                     I gently stroked the guard hairs on its upper back, inducing more bristling action. That was enough.

                                          ..... Neal Clark, Hancock

                                           

      January 10, ......  I saw some fresh vole trails in the back yard, the main trail was about 100 ft. long and consisted of a

                                     mound formed by the animal plowing just below the surface of the soft powder.  The mound was actually

                                     two parallel uplifts with a depression between them, caused by collapse of the deepest central part of

                                     the burrow. In a few places the vole had come to the surface and left tiny footprints there. 

                                         ..... Bruce Boyer, Jaffrey

 

      January 11, ......   During one of my frequent observations of the backyard feeders today, I was reminded of how frequently

                                     serendipity (or dumb luck) plays a role in what we see going on in the natural world. As I walked to the

                                     window in my bedroom, the youngest of my two cats jumped upon the table next to the window (as is her

                                     wont whenever I move over to that spot).  She spends hours watching the birds and squirrels at the

                                     feeders (cat TV ?)  I picked her up and was cradling her as we both looked out at the usual suspects at the

                                     feeders (chickadees, blue jays, two downys, nuthatches and two or three squirrels). All of a sudden we both

                                     jumped as a blur of motion shot into the field of view from left to right and an explosion of commotion

                                     engulfed the feeder area. It was an attacking sharp-shinned hawk going after one of the blue jays. I am 90%

                                     sure of the ID due to the very small size, the banded white underparts and wing visible in the split second 

                                     during the initial "strike'. The hawk didn't get the jay on the first attempt and it flew after it into a blue spruce

                                     about  forty feet away. Hard to see if the jay was caught or not.  My cat looked up at me as if asking

                                     "What was that all about ?", and resumed her purring (as also is her wont) .  ...... Chuck Schmidt, Hancock

 

      January 13, ......   Some Insects in Winter Factoids -  Grasshoppers bury several packets of eggs in the ground in a hole

                                      they dig with the tip of their abdomen in the fall. The young emerge in the spring  -   Luna Moth larvae

                                      spend the winter on the forest floor curled up in a cocoon made out of leaves  -  Grubs, or larvae,  of

                                      beetles such as the June beetle and Japanese beetle, migrate below the frost line in the fall and are

                                      inactive during the winter  -  Many of the houseflies that are bothersome to people are descended from

                                      flies that spend the winter in the building  -   Some species of stoneflies - aquatic insects that live on the

                                      underside of rocks in clean, rapidly flowing streams - emerge in the winter to breed.  -  The temperature

                                      of water in swift streams remains above freezing. As it moves over rocks and sprays into the air, it

                                      picks up oxygen. Because cold water can hold more dissolved gases, such as oxygen, than warm water,

                                      winter streams are very hospitable to aquatic life. Many aquatic insects remain active in the winter as

                                      a result.   ..... Mary Holland

                                      Make sure to keep abreast of Mary's regular winter posts and her wonderful accompanying photography

                                      at her blog/website (https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wodpress.com)   .... CS

                                                                       

      January 15, ......   "Of winter's lifeless world each tree

                                      now seems a perfect part;

                                      yet each one holds summer's secret

                                      deep down within its heart."

                                        ..... Charles G. Stater

                                        ..... Submitted by Ellen Taylor, Rindge

 

      January 18, ......   Any regular reader of  the Monadnock Nature Almanac is probably  aware that over the years I have

                                      become a huge fan of Dave Anderson's nature writing. Dave, the Director of Education and Volunteers

                                      for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests,  writes a monthly column "Forest Journal"

                                      in the New Hampshire Sunday News and regular articles in "Forest Notes" the quarterly magazine of the

                                      SPNHF. Over the years Dave has graciously (as have many other regional authors) given me permission

                                      to swipe a column or an excerpt from his longer articles to share with MNA readers. After reading today's

                                      piece in the Sunday News "The Coldest Hours -  Enjoying Winter: Art or Science", I felt I wanted to include

                                      it in this month's MNA for readers. After excerpting a paragraph or two, I said to myself "What are you

                                      doing ?" Some  columns, website posts, articles lend themselves to excerpts.  I quickly became aware 

                                      that this wasn't one of them, so please take the time to click on the following selection from Dave and 

                                      see why I have become such a fan.  (https://www.forestsociety.org/forest-journal-column/coldest-hours)

                                         ..... Chuck Schmidt, Hancock

       

      January 20, ......   While checking out the backyard feeders yesterday, as I do several times a day, I was a bit surprised

                                      to see two beautiful ravens walking about on the ground under the feeders,  feeding on the seeds

                                      scattered by the squirrels and blue jays.  I frequently hear the ravens off to the west, and occasionally

                                      see them flying through the woods out beyond the cleared back portion of the property but rarely do

                                      they put in an appearance this close to the house. The crows are much more frequent visitors, only

                                      feeding on seed on the ground once in a while, but throw out a few leftover crusts of bread, and they

                                      show up almost immediately. Uncanny !  When either of these two species puts in an appearance,

                                      I am always very careful to move very slowly near the window. They are the most sensitive of all the

                                      species to "motion".  They become aware of the slightest movement and off they go.  Always amusing

                                      to me because you can drive by them at 50 MPH when they are 20 feet away at the side of the road

                                      feeding on some roadkill and they don't bat an eye.  Go figure !    ..... Chuck Schmidt, Hancock 

  

      January 21, ......   I noticed a gray squirrel moving around a tree in my back yard in which a Barred Owl was perching.

                                      Then,  to my amazement, the squirrel got on the same branch and approached within a foot of the

                                      talons of the bird, which obviously saw it. I guess owls can't really pounce from a dead stop the way

                                      a cat can, but have to swoop onto their prey.    ..... Bruce Boyer, Jaffrey.

 

      January 25, ......   The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is asking residents to report wild turkey flock sightings

                                      via its online NH Wild Turkey Winter Flock Survey. Last winter, volunteer turkey watchers submitted 

                                      1,787 flock reports, totaling 28,389 turkeys. You can report any turkey flocks seen from January 1 

                                      through March 31, 2015 by filling out a simple electronic survey form posted on the Fish and Game 

                                      website (http://www.wildnh.com/turkeysurvey ) or go to (http://www.wildnh.com) and  click on "Turkey

                                      Survey." The survey is designed to fill gaps in Fish and Game's  existing winter flock data collection

                                      efforts, adding to the Department's understanding of the abundance and distribution of turkeys

                                      during New Hampshire's challenging winter months. They are especially interested sightings of any

                                      diseased turkeys.  The 2014 Summer Brood Survey results which indicate that NH continues to host

                                      some 40,000 turkeys, an amazing recovery since the 1975 re-introduction of some 25 birds in Walpole.

                                      (http://www.wildnh.com/turkeybroodsurvey/report_pdfs/2014_Brood_Survey.pdf)

                                             ..... Ted Walski, NH Fish and Game

           

      January 26, ......   Practice -  Like so many things in life, photographing small birds takes practice. Thus, yesterday 

                                      afternoon I set up the chair blind, tripod, etc. near the feeders in our yard intent of getting some practice.

                                      In addition to the usual birds we see all winter (chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers)

                                      we have been seeing small flocks (8-12 individuals) of goldfinches at the feeder in the past week or so. 

                                      I photographed them all yesterday.  I decided that the titmice are the hardest of these birds to photograph. 

                                      Many individuals fly directly to the feeder from fairly far afield. Those that do stop at one of my "photo

                                      perches" near the feeder rarely stay for more than 2 or 3 seconds. much shorter interval than any other

                                      species.  Photographing titmice requires rapid reflexes ....and much practice.  .... Frank Gorga, Antrim

                                          Check out Frank's exquisite photographs of the titmice and other natural history subjects at his

                                      blog/website "Photographs by Frank"  (http://gorga.org/blog/) One visit and this will become a regular

                                      internet stop for you as it has for me. Always great stuff !  ... CS

 

       January 28, ......  Time for a Climb - Last weekend we had a beautiful (and rare) sunny day so I thought I'd hit the trail in

                                      Walpole and climb High Blue. Finding places to climb in the winter can be difficult because snowbanks

                                      block access to the normal parking spots, but High  Blue has one of those few parking areas that are

                                      kept plowed. You don't have to walk too far till you come to a large open meadow. Deer love to come

                                      here and browse the shrubs along the edges of the meadow so there are game trails everywhere up

                                      here. .... As usual the deer were seeing me but I wasn't seeing them.  I knew they were there though 

                                      even if I didn't see them or their tracks because they had been browsing the tips of the oaks along the

                                      meadow edge. They often tear rather than bite cleanly through a branch and that's because they have 

                                      incisors  on only their bottom  jaw that meets a cartilage pad on the front of the upper jaw. This causes

                                      them to pull rather than shear and for this reason they eat mostly tender shoots. .... The small pond at

                                      the summit was frozen solid and I wondered how the animals and birds were finding any water to drink.

                                      ..... I see signs of pileated woodpecker every time I come here and this day was no different . A large pile

                                      of wood chips at the base of a dead tree means only one thing - you should look up. Sure enough there

                                      was the woodpecker's hole about fifteen feet off the ground. Pileated woodpeckers excavate a new nest

                                      hole each year, and this looked more like a nesting hole than a feeding hole. Abandoned holes are also

                                      used by owls, wood ducks and many other birds, and even bats and pine martens. This tree looked to

                                      be hollow.    .... Allen Norcross, Jaffrey ,

                                              Excerpted from Allen's description of his High Blue hike.  Check out Allen's website "New Hampshire

                                      Garden Solutions"  (http://nhgardensolutions.wordpress.com/) for the rest of the hike description and the

                                      beautiful accompanying images, particularly those of lichens encountered on the hike.  This is another 

                                      website that  will become addictive to any regional naturalist after just one visit. Other January winter

                                      hikes are featured on Allen's website this month,  vicarious experiences for those of us who don't get

                                      out as much as we used to, and a veritable graduate course in regional lichen and fungi identification. 

                                           .... CS 

 

       January 28, .....   From the "Yogi Berra: You Can Observe a Lot by Looking Files"  -  Last night, walking into my darkened

                                      kitchen around dusk, I happened to glance out the window and there under the bird feeders, of all

                                      places,  were three beautiful young deer.  They were munching on black oil sunflower seeds that had been

                                      scattered about by the squirrels and blue jays.  This has been an interesting "feeder observation" month,

                                      with a sharp-shinned hawk attack on a blue jay observed a couple of weeks ago, and ravens feeding on

                                      the ground under the feeders.  The deer are frequently seen during the winter pawing through the snow 

                                      to get at fall's fallen apples in my field across the street and are also observed nibbling on the evergreen

                                      shrubs around the house. This is the first time in recent memory that I have seen them dining on

                                      black oil sunflower seeds under the feeders.   ..... Chuck Schmidt, Hancock  

 

       January 29, .....   With temperatures dropping well below freezing this morning for the fourth or fifth time already this 

                                      winter here in northern Keene, I was reminded that we should be nearing the end of the coldest stretch 

                                      of winter temperatures.  During a two week period at the end of January,  Keene daytime daily high

                                      temperatures average about 29-30 degrees. Nighttime temperatures average about 8 degrees during

                                      this period. By the first week in February these averages slowly begin to climb.   ..... Ed Steele, Keene

 

 

 

 

                                     

         MONADNOCK MUSINGS                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                        

                                                                                         Some Mid-winter Ramblings                                             

                            

 

                                          One morning, a week or two ago, wearing my pull-on rubber ice cleats, I was making my daily trek

                                   to the bottom of the driveway to pick up the morning paper. (I wear the ice cleats to prevent reading

                                   about myself in the Ledger-Transcript -  ("Oblivious Hancock Resident Falls and Breaks Hip on Icy

                                   Driveway").  The temperature was a balmy - 4 degrees, up from a 4 AM low of about 13 below.  As I

                                   walked along the edge of the driveway, I couldn't help but take note of the "creaky" sound of the snow.

                                   Being a "relationship kind of guy,"  I was reminded that there is an inverse relationship between the air

                                   temperature and the sound of the snow underfoot.  From the 30s down into the 20s, there is almost no

                                   sound as one walks. Once you get into the low teens and upper single digits, you hear a distinct

                                   "crunch".  At,  and below,  zero, the sound becomes a distinctly higher frequency "screech". At even

                                   lower temperatures,  the snow can "squeal" underfoot as you walk. 

                                           On the way back up the driveway I noted my Rhododendron was in its "low temperature mode" with

                                   its leaves hanging vertically and tightly curled.  This is just one of several adaptations that various

                                   species (both plant and animal) exhibit to make it through our winters.  Most references to this leaf

                                   curling, ascribe it to an attempt to reduce desiccation and attendant leaf damage.  Actually, although

                                   definitively a temperature related phenomenon, the reasons are less definitive and possibly much more

                                   complex. (https://viettes.wordpress.co/2010/12/09/brrrrrrrrr-its-cold-outside-says-my-rhododendron/).

                                   For an even more comprehensive and much more detailed scientific look at this phenomenon, access

                                   (arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1990-50-1-why-do-rhododendron-leaves-curl.pdf). I've

                                   noticed that these links work sometimes, and sometimes not. If not, go to the Harvard website and

                                   input "Why Do Rhododendron leaves Curl " in their "search" box, This will bring up the article, or

                                   just "Google" the article titles and they can be accessed.

                                          Later that day as I was running some errands, with the temperature now up to a positively balmy 7 or                                  

                                   8 degrees, I noted that hundreds of  smaller birches along Route 202 from Peterborough to Antrim, were

                                   bent over,  nearly touching the ground in some instances. This flexibility is an adaptation which allows

                                   this species to survive our frequent ice storms.  Evergreens exhibit another interesting evolutionary

                                   adaptation. As one moves north from the more southern New England states, the "steepness" of the

                                   conical shape of conifers increases.  The rather "un-conical" Pitch Pine and White Pine species transition

                                   to the much steeper shapes of Spruce,  Balsam and Firs of the north country. This aids these species

                                   in shedding snow and avoiding limb damage.  Another relationship (steepness - latitude). 

                                          The animal world is not without its evolutionary adaptations.  One of the most famous is known as

                                   Bergmann's Rule, which postulates that as one moves northward,  the average body size of animals,

                                   even within a single species, tends to become larger. This means that the animals' heat loss diminishes

                                   as their surface area is reduced relative to their volume and body weight.  Whitetailed deer, for example,  

                                   are larger in size in the north as compared to their relatives to our south.  Another interesting, and

                                   perfectly sensible relationship, is Allen's Rule, which tells us that the extremities of an animal, including

                                   ears, tails and bills, will be shorter or reduced in size in the colder part of a specie's range.  These

                                   extremities are heat radiators.  Using the white-tailed deer example again, the deer in southern areas

                                   have proportionately larger ears than their northern counterparts.

                                          Interestingly, the early part of this winter in the Monadnock Region has been particularly hard on

                                   both our smaller predators (fox, bobcat and coyote)  and those prey animals active at the ground surface

                                   under the snow cover (the "subnivian" world) .  Usually, our deep winter snow provides an insulating  

                                   layer which can make temperature at the snow/ground interface, some 30 to 40 degrees warmer than air

                                   temperatures. This  allows the subnivian critters (mice, voles, etc.) to retain body heat and significantly

                                   increase their survival rates.  Up to the third week in January we had received little snowfall and what

                                   we had received was coated with a layer of freezing rain, forming a hard crust.  Not deep enough to

                                   insulate and keep surface ground temperatures higher for the subnivians. This crust also inhibited the

                                   prey animals from hearing the activities under the snow, and made it harder for them to pounce and punch

                                   through to obtain lunch and dinner.  As I am writing this,  the first significant snowfall of the winter season

                                   has been accumulating, and although not as much as the unbridled media hype has predicted,  by morning 

                                   we should have at least a foot on the ground and tomorrow there may be a bit more joy in the subnivian

                                   world.    ..... Chuck Schmidt, Hancock

                                    

                                  

 

                                                                                               .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

    MONADNOCK SKIES -  For February 2015 

 

           

       February, .......     February Constellations - Winter's Brightest Stars -  All this month, Monadnock skywatchers

                                       can enjoy a the grouping of the brightest stars of the year. Dominated by the constellation Orion,

                                       this grouping is called The Winter Hexagon by some, The Winter Oval or The Celestial "G" by others.

                                       Containing eight of the brightest "first magnitude" stars visible in our sky,  this grouping is visible

                                       high in the southern sky.  As the month progresses, this grouping moves slightly westward each

                                       night, until by month's end it crosses the Meridian around 7:30 PM.  The grouping will continue to 

                                       dominate this region of the southern sky during February and March.  To familiarize yourself with this 

                                       stellar assemblage: first find the prominent constellation of Orion in the south.  Locate the brilliant

                                       blue-white star Rigel in the lower right hand corner of the constellation.  This star, sixth brightest in all

                                       the sky at magnitude + 0.12, marks Orion's left foot as he faces westward. Then move slightly lower

                                       and to the left (eastward) to the even brighter star Sirius in the constellation of Canis Major (one of

                                       Orion's hunting dogs). Sirius is the brightest star in our night sky at magnitude  - 1.46.   Then move 

                                       upward and slightly to the east  to another brilliant star Procyon the seventh brightest star in our sky

                                       at magnitude + 0.34.  Procyon resides in the constellation Canis Minor (the little Dog). Almost directly

                                       above Procyon are the two brightest stars in the constellation Gemini (the Twins). Pollux, the lower of

                                       the two shines at magnitude +1.15.  Castor, the other twin at magnitude +1.96, is just above Pollux and

                                       only a "finger" width away.  Continuing upward and slightly to the right (westward) we arrive at Capella,

                                       magnitude +0.71 in the constellation Auriga (the Charioteer). From Capella, move downward and to 

                                       the right to arrive at the orange-red Aldeberan, the "eye" of Taurus the Bull shining at magnitude +0.85.

                                       To complete the "Celestial G" move downward and slightly back to the left (eastward) to the brilliant

                                       red giant star Betelgeuse (magnitude +0.42), the eighth brightest star in our sky which marks the "Bar" 

                                       of the Celestial "G" and the right shoulder of Orion.                        

 

       February, .......    The Planets This Month  -  The red planet Mars stays low in the southwest at dusk all month long, 

                                       shining at magnitude +1.2. At the beginning of the month it is about 10 degrees to the upper left of

                               Venus which  slowly climbs a bit higher as the month progresses. By month's end, Venus is well  

                                       above Mars shining at magnitude - 4.0.  In early February Jupiter is visible low in the ENE about an

                                       hour after sunset.   It can be seen throughout the month in the eastern sky. An easy object. The ringed

                                       planet Saturn remains a morning sky object.  At mid-month it can be seen shining at magnitude + 0.5  

                                       an hour before dawn in the SE above the star Antares.  Its rings are tilted about 25 degrees and are

                                       easily visible in a small telescope.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

        February 3, .......  Full Moon - The Snow Moon -  Generally our snowiest month, February gives this month's full moon

                                       its most common nickname.  Some native American tribes called January "The Snow Moon" and

                                       therefore called the February full moon the "Hunger Moon" due to the diminishing food supply and poor 

                                       hunting conditions.  

 

       February 6, .......  Bright International Space Station Passage -   To view this passage of the ISS in the Monadnock

                                       Sky, face the SW a few minutes before the scheduled appearance low in the sky at 6:26:22 PM. If you

                                       have a good view of the horizon, the ISS will appear about 10 degrees above the horizon.  It will slowly 

                                       climb,  passing Aldeberan in Taurus the Bull,  reaching a maximum altitude of approximately 63 degrees

                                       in the SE at 6:29:35 PM. At that point it will exhibit a magnitude of - 3.3, slightly less bright than Venus

                                       low in the western sky.  As it descends towards Jupiter in the ENE , it will graze the star Castor in

                                       Gemini and wink out as it passes into the earth's shadow about 38 degrees above the horizonabout two

                                       minutes later.  

                                       

        February 11, ....   Last Quarter Moon

                                             

       February 18, .....  New Moon

      

        February 20, .....  Western Sky Grouping of Venus, Mars and New Crescent Moon - Weather permitting, try and

                                        catch a close grouping of the planets Venus, Mars and the New Crescent Moon low in the WSW just after 

                                        sunset. The two planets will be less than one-half a degree apart on the following evening.

 

       February 25, ...... First Quarter Moon

 

 

 

 

   MONADNOCK REGION NATURAL HISTORY EVENTS CALENDAR -  February 2015                  

 

 

                                          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 1, ........  Introduction to Snowshoeing for Women - Northfield Mountain and Recreation Center -  Northfield,

                                       Massachusetts.  Free program 16 and over with your own snowshoes.   $18 fee for snowshoe rental.

                                       Learn how to snowshoe with a group of other active women and put your newfound skills to work

                                       exploring Northfield Mountain's snowshoe trails. We'll begin indoors with a brief session on equipment

                                       and then venture outdoors exploring some of our favorite trails as well as the natural history of this

                                       special season. 10:30 AM to 2 PM at the Center 66 Millers Falls Rd, Route 63, south of Northfield, Mass.

                                       For more information and/or to register, call (800) 859-2960

 

      February 3, .......   Watching the Weather: A Citizen Science Training  -  Join meteorologists Chris Kimble and John

                                       Cannon of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to learn how to become a

                                       volunteer weather watcher. Chris and John will introduce the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and

                                       Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), and explain how to take measurements of precipitation and snow, They

                                       will also provide SKYWARN Storm Spotter Training, which includes detailed discussions of thunder-

                                       storms, tornadoes, and other hazardous weather, and how volunteer storm spotters can provide crucial

                                       information to the National Weather Service.  7 to 9 PM in the Keene State College Science Center

                                       (Room 175). For more information, contact Brett Amy Thelen (thelen@harriscenter.org or (603) 358-2065.

                                      

       February 5, ......... ESI Course - A Community of Women Dreaming of Getting (back) Into Winter Hiking -  First

                                        of three sessions (Feb 5, 12 and 19) from noon to 3 PM. We'll snowshoe, hike and renew our connection

                                        with nature on local trails in the sparkle of February light. Participants will - Become familiar with gentle

                                        to moderately challenging Monadnock region trails - Meet a group of women who may wish to hike

                                        together outside of this course - gain confidence as winter hike planners - Get a strong dose of vitamin

                                        N (Nature).  Be prepared for hikes of 2 1/2 to 4 miles, cold weather, hills, and a wonderful time discovering

                                        nature's surprises with a supportive group of women. Ideally bring snowshoes that you've used before.

                                        Facilitated by Janet Altobello, Harris Center School program Coordinator and lifelong hiker.  Pre-

                                        registration required - Contact Sara at (603) 525 - 3394 or lefebvre@harriscenter.org.  Gear and health

                                        forms will be sent to registrants. Harris Center program.

 

     February 5, ........   Nature on Tap: The Prickly Truth of Porcupine Courtship - Join Harris Center naturalist Susie

                                        Spikol Faber in the tavern of the Hancock Inn for a lively happy hour discussion on the mating and

                                        courtship habits of the North American porcupine. Get into the Valentine's Day mood early by learning

                                        how male porcupines dance their way into the hearts of their mates. Drinks on you, conversation on

                                        us 5:30 to 6:30 PM at the Hancock Inn, 33 main Street Hancock. Seating is limited and registration is

                                        required. To register, contact Sara LeFebvre at lefebvre@harriscenter.org or 525-349.

 

       February 6, ........   Easygoing Hike Along the Jaffrey Rail Trail -  A moderately easy, 4 mile roundtrip hike along a

                                         rail trail from the Jaffrey Pizza Barn to Woodbound Road and back. Bring water and lunch, and meet

                                         at 10 AM in the parking area beside Ocean State Job Lot in Peterborough (at the intersection of Rts.

                                         101 and 202) to carpool. Back by 2 PM. For more information, contact Lee Baker (603) 525-5262 or

                                         snowman3137@gmail.com  or Ollie Mutch (978) 386-5318 or wapack@peoplepc.com  Harris Center

                                         program.

 

       February 6, .........  New Hampshire Farm and Forest Expo -  Fun for all ages. A winter standard since 1984.  New

       February 7             Hampshire's greatest winter fair offers commercial exhibits, educational sessions, demonstrations,

                                         for attendees of all ages.  Be sure and visit the Fish & Game Booth, the UNH Cooperative Extension

                                         booth, and the Society for the Protection of NH Forests booth. Radisson Hotel/Center of NH, 65

                                         Granite Street, Manchester, NH. $7 for adults. Children 16 and under free.

 

       February 7, .........  Gridley River Snowshoe Trek - Join Swift Corwin and Eric Aldrich for an easy, 2.4 mile snowshoe

                                         trek (or hike depending upon conditions) along the Gridley River in Sharon. We'll visit the Nature

                                         Conservancy's Wales Preserve (protected 51 years ago), following the ice-bound brook under

                                         mammoth white pines and hemlocks. Bring water and lunch, and meet at 10 AM at the Wales Preserve

                                         on Spring Hill Road in Sharon. Back by noon. For more information - contact Eric Aldrich at 525-4716

                                         ealdrich@tnc.org or Swift Corwin 562-5620 or swiftcorwin@gmail.com.  Cosponsored by the Nature

                                         Conservancy and the Harris Center.

 

       February 12, ......  The Private Life of Deer Film Showing -  Just a century ago, there were fewer than a million deer

                                         in North America. Today, there are nearly 30 million. This, hour-long documentary, filmed largely in

                                         the northeast, takes a close look at how wild deer interact with one another, and how they've

                                         adapted to live alongside humans. 7 to 8:30 PM in the Lucy Hurley Theater at Conval High School

                                         in Peterborough.  Following the film, Matt Tarr - Wildlife Specialist with the UNH Cooperative Extension

                                         will be on hand for an informal Q & A session. For more information, contact Brett Amy Thelen at

                                         358-2065 or thelen@harriscenter.org Cosponsored by the Harris Center, the UNH Cooperative

                                         Extension, and the Monadnock Conservancy.

 

       February 14, ......   Bobcats in New Hampshire -  Bobcats have been protected in New Hampshire since 1989, when

                                         their numbers were so low that few of these wild felines were ever seen.  Twenty-five years later, there

                                         are an estimated 1,000 bobcats statewide, and sightings are much more common. However, the

                                         landscape is quite different now than it was when bobcats last flourished. Join Rory Carroll, a

                                         graduate researcher at the University of NH, for a presentation on what the UNH bobcat research

                                         team has learned about the past, present and future of this charismatic carnivore in New Hampshire.

                                         10 to 11:30 AM at the Harris Center in Hancock. For more information, contact Brett Amy Thelen.

                                          Harris Center program.

 

       February 21, .....    Snowshoe Trek to Osgood Hill -  A moderately strenuous, 3-mile roundtrip hike to the top of

                                          Osgood Hill (a.k.a. City Hill) in Nelson. The route follows a new trail through Harris Center

                                          conservation land, then strikes out for less than a mile of bushwacking along an abandoned trail

                                          to the top of Osgood Hill, the second highest peak in Cheshire County. Bring water and lunch, and

                                          meet at the Bailey Brook trailhead on Bailey Brook Road/Old Stoddard Road in Nelson (1.4 miles

                                          south of the junction with Route 123).  Back by 3 PM. For more information, contact Kathy

                                          Schillemat (847-9785) or kschillemat@yahoo.com or Al Stoops 847-9494.  Harris Center program.

 

        February 22, .....   Cobb Hill Hike -  A moderately strenuous, 4.5 mile hike to Cobb Hill, beginning at the new foot-

                                          bridge spanning Nubanusit Brook in Harrisville and ending at Merrrils's Four Corners. (We'll have

                                          cars at each end) Bring water and lunch, and meet at 10 AM, at the trailhead just northwest of the

                                          junction of Bonds Corner Road and Hancock Road in Harrisville. Back by 2 PM. For more

                                          information, contact Rich Taylor (827-4105) rtaylor@gerkensinc.com  , Brian Bishoff (899-5770)

                                          bjbeam2@myfairpoint.net or Russ Daigle (477-7506).  Harris Center program. 

                                                       

        February 23, ......  Session One - Winter Wol's nest vacation Camp -  A three day winter vacation camp for 

                                          grades K- 4, filled with snowshoeing, fort building, animal tracking, winter survival tips, nature

                                          crafts, games, songs and more. Monday February 23rd to Wednesday, February 25 at the Harris 

                                          Center. (Snow date February 26th).  9 AM to 3 PM. $120 for Harris Center members, $150 for non-                         

                                          members.  Space limited to 30 children. Preregistration required - Contact Sara at (603) 525-3394

                                          or lefebvre@harriscenter.org.                      

                                                       

        February 26, ......   Wood Turtle Ecology and Conservation -  Wood turtles occur in cold streams in forested

                                          areas throughout the northeast - including the Monadnock region - but they are especially

                                          vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation , mowing and poaching.  As a result, they're

                                          considered "endangered" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

                                          Join ecologists Mike Jones  (University of Massachusetts-Amherst) and Liz Willey

                                          (Antioch University New England) for an introduction to the wood turtle, and to the regional

                                           efforts underway to preserve this seldom-seen resident of New Hampshire. 7 to 8 PM in the

                                           Keene State College Science Center (Room 175). For more information, contact Brett Amy

                                           Thelen. Cosponsored by Keene State College and the Harris Center.

                                  

        February 28, ......   Winter Mammal Tracking and Wildlife Ecology - Mid-February and Valentines Day is peak

                                           breeding season for many wild mammals. Learn animal tracking tips and who is most active in

                                           the winter woods during this workshop led by the 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. Bring your own snowshoes; off trail hiking may be possible

                                           dependent upon snow and tracking conditions. 9 AM at the Fells Gatehouse, 456 Route 106A,

                                           Newbury, NH. (Snow date March 1)

 

 

                  

   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.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. www.spnhf.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 Mineral Club - Founded in 1948 the Keene Mineral Club is an active group of

                                            collectors of 100 or so members whose interests cover the full spectrum of mineral related

                                            topics: crystals, minerals, gems, lapidary, micromounts, fossils and more.  The club holds

                                            regular monthly meetings, publishes an award winning newsletter and sponsors frequent

                                            local and regional field trips.  Membership is encouraged for all ages and levels of interest.

                                             (http://sites.google.com/site/keenemineralclub/home)

 

                                   ....... 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 NATURAL HISTORY RESOURCES   

 

                           ..........  Big Trees of New Hampshire: Short Hikes to the Biggest Trees in new Hampshire

                               from the Seacoast to the North Country -  (2014),  Kevin Martin - A unique hiking guide to

                                       more than 80 of New Hampshires largest trees. The book features 28 hikes to 85 trees throughout    

                                       the state.

 

                           ........... The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America - Donald and Lillian

                                       Stokes (2014) - Pocket size, brilliantly colored and easy to use.  This volume contains everything

                                       you need to identify and enjoy birds in your backyard and beyond. It offers more than 580

                                       stunning color photographs , coverage of more than 250 species, key identification clues,

                                       descriptions of songs and calls, notes on feeding and nesting behavior, advice on selecting bird

                                       feeders and binoculars, important behavioral information and key habitat preferences, and up-

                                       to-date range maps.

 

                          ..........   2015 Naturally Curious Calendar - Mary Holland - $30 including shipping, available directly

                                       from Mary at (mholland@vermontel.net)  Additional Info. at Mary's website. See Onancock Links.

                                              

                         ...........    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 Harridan,  NH's iconic north country author, speaker,  weekly 

                                        columnist for the Union Leader and 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, Snuff'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:  (http://www.forest.org/news/forest-notes.asp)

                                    

                                ........ 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)      

 

                                ........  Outdoor Guide - Antrim,and Bennington, New Hampshire -  The second edition of this 64 

                                          page guide has recently been made available through towns halls, libraries and a wide variety of

                                          business outlets throughout the northern Cheshire County region.  A wonderful resource, it contains a

                                          wealth of information on key nature destinations in the region, including hiking and biking trails,

                                          canoeing and kayaking opportunities, and a wide variety of other nature related activities. Also

                                          available at www.ablions.org                           

                                                     

                                         

 

  MONADNOCK LINKS

 

 

                         ..........  NONA National Weather Service Website - The NONA 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. See

                                      the January 2011 MAN for a more detailed description of some of the features of this useful

                                      website. (http://www.nova.go)

 

                          ..........  Latitude and Longitude - To determine the exact Latitude and Longitude of a specific location,

                                      visit the website (http://touchpad.com/ladling.html). For a more detailed description of the

                                      information available on this website, see the January 2011 MAN.

 

                           .......... 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 Onancock regions

                                       top birders.  (http://birdingonthe.net/mailing/NUB.html)

 

                           .........  New Hampshire Mountain Lions - John Rant of Hancock, NH maintains a running bog which

                                      shares information on mountain lions in New Hampshire and reports sightings in the granite state.

                                      (http://nhmountainlion.word.com/about/#comment-71)

 

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

                                       state. Compiled each week by Mark Somala.  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/

 

                        ...........The Old Farmer's Almanac - Another general reference site for  regional weather, birding,

                                         fishing, astronomy and outdoor information. Provides an excellent table for the rising and setting

                                         times for the sun, moon and planets which may be selected for your particular town or village.

                                         (http://www.almanac,com) 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

                                          Tom. (http://mindatnh.org)

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

             and held completely confidential.  Past  issues of the Monadnock Nature Almanac (from September 2010) are 

             available upon request.