Dave Anderson

Host, Something Wild

Dave Anderson is the Director of Education and Volunteer Services for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, where he has worked for more than 19 years. He is responsible for the design and delivery of conservation education programs including field trips, tours and presentations to Forest Society members, conservation partners and the general public.

Dave guides field trips on conservation land statewide while teaching about forest ecology, wildlife ecology, forest stewardship and land conservation to introduce both life-long residents and visitors alike to protection and management of New Hampshire forests, farms and open space. His bimonthly column “Forest Journal” appears in the New Hampshire Sunday News, and his quarterly “Nature’s View” columns are a regular feature in the Forest Society’s quarterly magazine Forest Notes.

Dave lives on “Meetinghouse Hill Farm,” a 40-acre certified Tree Farm in rural South Sutton, New Hampshire. The farm includes vegetable and perennial flower gardens, laying hens, Romney sheep, fruit trees, mowed and grazed pastures and an actively-managed pine-oak-hemlock backyard woodlot.

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Something Wild
8:00 am
Fri February 15, 2013

A Red Squirrel Valentine

The latter half of February begins the onset of peak breeding season for many furbearers and rodents. At Valentine's Day, tracks in the snow increase exponentially as wild mammals seek available mates.

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Something Wild
9:36 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Groundhog Day – All Over Again

Credit via steveissak, Flickr Creative Commons

This humble, sleepy animal annually thrust into the glare of a thousand camera flashes in Pennsylvania by otherwise rational men wearing stovepipe hats has many different common names: Woodchuck, Groundhog, Whistling pig and Marmot. It’s actually the largest member of the squirrel family found in New England, related closely to western marmots.

The etymology of the name “woodchuck” is unrelated to "wood" or to "chucking." The name stems from its Algonquian origins or possibly Cree Indian name: "Wu-chak".

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Something Wild
9:24 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Two Sides To A Thaw

Depending on winter severity, the annual "January thaw" offers a brief, welcome reprieve for a few days in late January. While never guaranteed, the phenomenon creates a brief yet important window of opportunity for wildlife - even insects!

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Something Wild
8:15 am
Fri January 4, 2013

Walls in Winter Woods

Credit via sogrady, Flickr Creative Commons

Experts estimate that by 1871 there were more 250,000 miles of stonewalls throughout in New England and New York—enough to circle the earth ten times. The majority of New England stonewalls were built between 1810 and 1840. Naturalist, Tom Wessels refers to these decades when forests were cleared to pastures enclosed by stonewalls as "Sheep Fever." He calculates the mass of stone in walls to be greater than the Great Pyramids of Egypt suggesting stonewalls should rightfully be considered "the eighth wonder of the world."

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice - Summer's On Its Way!

Credit Ennor, Flickr Creative Commons

I love the longest night of the year on December 21st more than the longest day of the year on June 21st. Winter Solstice is like the night before Christmas, filled with anticipation and expectation. While huddled in dark woods around my solstice bonfire, the earliest glimmer of returning sunlight is made real. the days grow longer and the promise of impeding spring somehow trumps this newborn winter reality. From this day hence, days grow longer, brighter and eventually warmer until June 21st. Today, we begin that climb.


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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Local Farm-Raised Christmas Trees

Baby Christmas trees, Lee, NH
Credit Selbe B via Flickr Creative Commons

According to the National Christmas Tree Growers Association, buying a natural, farm-grown Christmas tree is a traditional custom for up to 30 million American families who celebrate the holidays with the fragrance and beauty of locally-raised, farm-grown Christmas trees. Today, the majority of Christmas trees are plantation-grown. There are an estimated 350 million Christmas trees growing nationwide.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Restoring the American Chestnut

Thanksgiving leftovers in my kitchen include Chinese chestnut-stuffing. Most people know that our American chestnut trees were decimated by an Asian fungus detected in 1904 that killed untold billions of trees and wiped-out one of the most common and most important lumber and wildlife trees from eastern forests before 1940.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri November 9, 2012

Forest vs. Tree Cover

We were all duped by media reports this summer that NH had exceeded Maine for the highest percentage of forest cover in the US. Apparently, we're just not "seeing the forest for the trees." 

A classic “apples to oranges” comparison reported New Hampshire’s “89% tree cover” now qualifies us as the “most-forested” state in the nation.

FACT #1: A USDA Northern Forest Research and Syracuse University study determined NH tree cover is 89% - and yes, that is higher overall than Maine’s percent tree cover.

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Something Wild
11:23 am
Wed October 24, 2012

Sincerely Giant Pumpkins

Photo by Rick Ganley

Cartoon character Linus Van Pelt explains to Charlie Brown’s sister, Sally, how the “Great Pumpkin” rises from the “most sincere” pumpkin patch.

The website “pumpkinnook.com” tracks pumpkin festivals and weigh-ins from coast to coast. NH offerings this year included the highly competitive weigh-off at Deerfield Fair, the Pumpkin Festival in Keene, a pumpkin “chunkin” contest in Milford, a “giant pumpkin drop” from a crane into a portable swimming pool and a pumpkin regatta with giant pumpkins floating on the Piscataquog River in Goffstown.

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Something Wild
11:00 am
Tue October 9, 2012

Moose Hunt, Moose Ticks

October is the annual breeding season, "the rut" for the largest denizens of New Hampshire's North Country: Moose.  It's also the annual moose hunting season.

Following the initial recovery of moose populations, an annual moose hunt has occurred since 1988. That first year, 75 permits were issued for a three-day hunt in the North Country only. Last year, 400 moose permit hunters took 290 moose.

This year 275 coveted moose hunting permits were awarded by lottery from among more than 13,400 applicants for the nine-day season.

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something wild
12:00 am
Fri September 28, 2012

The Annual Autumn Lament

intenteffect, via Flickr creative commons

Something in the sudden acute awareness of slanting, September sunlight, standing amid fallen crimson maple leaves and with long-faded hopes for a Red Sox pennant bid aggravates my annual autumn lament. Despite fall foliage which will again be absolutely gorgeous, I remain vexed.

There are only two seasons: "summer waxing" and "summer waning." The former runs January to June. The latter opens at the dying echoes of Fourth of July Fireworks and extends through December.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri September 14, 2012

Comments from Mt. Monadnock

This stream-of-consciousness postcard was assembled from random entries in the Marlboro Trail hiker register on Mount Monadnock, most-climbed mountain in the Western Hemisphere. A year of scrawled fragments…

Winter:

  • Happy New Year!
  • Today is my half-birthday!
  • Lost crampons on hike, if found please call…
  • Played hooky from work, a great choice.
  • Made pee-pee in the woods! 
  • Happy Spring!

Spring:

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Something Wild
5:22 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Hover Flies

Hope Abrams, via Flickr Creative Commons

While hiking on Mount Monadnock this summer, I witnessed an odd phenomenon: nearly-motionless hovering insects with orange-yellow stripes over a dark body suggesting wasps or bees. The tight aerial formation of insects hovered at eye level in a shaft of sunlight over the trail.

The “Hover Flies” - sometimes called “Flower Flies” - belong to a LARGE group in the Order “Diptera” (the true flies). Those in the Family “Syrphidae” have only one pair of wings. All wasps and bees have two pairs of wings.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Shorebird Migration

Flickr Creative Commons

The autumn shorebird migration starts early. The first signs of autumn are now found moving southward along beaches and in salt marshes or high above New Hampshire's 13 miles of Atlantic coast. 

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri August 3, 2012

Got Wood? (The Other Energy)

WBUR

Mid-summer is not too soon to think about heating next winter. By August, forest trees are beginning to prepare for the coming winter. With recent attention to the importance of local food production, we should consider ways to meet our heating needs using local wood energy.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Natural Design

We continue to evolve and learn from Nature itself. The Missoula Montana-based "Biomimicry Institute" promotes the study and integration of natural design principles and serves as a resource for students and researchers through workshops and curricula.

Bio-mimicry adapts natural systems which have evolved over 3.8 billion years of evolution to create more sustainable human technologies. Elegant and functional designs found in Nature have been used to create structures, complex machines, electronics and even transportation and communication networks.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri July 6, 2012

The Changing Forest

A recent 10-year update to US Forest Service “Forest Inventory and Analysis” data reveals that New Hampshire now has a slightly higher percentage - 85% of the state now forested. Yet just as our human population is aging – a so-called “Silver Tsunami” – our forests are likewise aging.  More than half the timberland in NH - 57% percent - is older than sixty-one years old.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri June 22, 2012

Plague of (Forest) Pests

Threats to forest health from three exotic insect pests including Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, Asian Longhorn Beetle and Emerald Ash Borer loom large over the vast forests of NH. The veritable insect rogues gallery is at our doorstep after killing trees in nearby states.

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Something Wild
10:49 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Of Mice and Ticks- Lyme Disease Surge

A surge in occurrence of Lyme disease is predicted for the Eastern U.S. three years after bumper acorn crops in 2009 and 2010 and following virtually NO acorns last autumn in 2011. Why is that? How do acorn crops influence rates of human illness? 

Oak forests demonstrate the ecological ripple effects when bumper acorn crops cause a population boom in mice which translates into an increase in ticks and a delayed-onset spike in reported cases of human Lyme disease.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri May 25, 2012

The Green Rx

Forests keep us healthy.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Mayfly Ballet

smilla4, Flickr Creative Commons

It’s not just anglers who follow emerging mayflies. The drama plays to appreciative audiences above and below the water. Hatching nymphs rise from dark, watery depths up to the wide blue sky, a glorious curtain call and tolling dinner bell.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Wildflowers, the Indicator Species

Paul-W, Flikr Creative Commons

Lovely woodland wildflowers are reliable “indicators” of soil moisture, fertility and light conditions. Wildflowers on the forest floor repeat patterns seen elsewhere each spring. The flowers speak to the patterns of why plants and trees grow where they do in our forests. 

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Flowering Shadbush

from dmott9, Flickr Creative Commons

In April, forest trees leaf-out casting shade. When buds open, most tree flowers bloom inconspicuously. But some rural roadsides and pasture edges are accentuated by the stunning white full bloom of a small native tree whose Latin scientific name is Amelanchier arborea. 

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Something Wild
9:42 am
Wed March 28, 2012

The Lorax

Reuters/San Diego Police Department/Handout

The box office success of the new Universal Pictures animated feature film “The Lorax” - based on a classic Dr. Seuss tale – creates a window of opportunity to consider environmental messaging to a new generation of future leaders. The original Seuss tale is beloved. I can still recite it from memory. “Tell us ‘The Lorax’ Dad!” my kids would beg. Like all Seuss books, The Lorax features rhymes, nuances and a moral.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 16, 2012

Frogs Are-a-Courtin'

When overnight rain arrives in March, male wood frogs emerge from cold leaves and soil to migrate to ancestral vernal pools still encased in ice.  Wood frogs and Jefferson salamanders are the earliest amphibians to begin the annual rites of courtship in vernal pools formed by melting snow. The early imperative to breed drives small, chocolate-brown males to pools where they begin broadcasting clucking mating calls that sound like quacking ducks. 

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 2, 2012

The Dogs of March

via Flickr Creative Commons, MemaNH

In March, coyotes stalk, chase and kill winter-weakened deer in the equivalent of "Lions & Gazelles." Hungry coyotes now take prey larger than their usual fare of small rodents. 

Coyotes breed in February. During March and April gestation, they select maternity dens where they'll birth pups in May. Coyotes do NOT hunt in large family packs or occupy dens in other seasons. Coyote breeding is timed to a seasonal abundance of food: deer are in weakened condition after burning winter fat reserves while traveling in snow on a meager diet of twigs, bark and buds. 

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Do Animals Really Mate for Life?

With Valentine's Day over, let's get real about "Romance"…   Do any animals really mate for life?

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Something Wild
8:00 am
Fri February 3, 2012

Antlers in the Snow

Dave Anderson

While following deer trails in snow you'll find pellets of scat and tufts of hair – coarse grey and white hair, hollow in cross-section. A more coveted souvenir are "sheds” – cast-off antlers.

After breeding ends in December, deer antlers loosen at the base. Once-formidable weapons of territorial defense drop with testosterone levels in January. The shed antlers cast by bucks and bull moose each winter are often promptly buried by snow.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Got Snow?

Ben Hudson via Society for Protection of NH Forests

Snow - or a lack thereof - is a perennial January conversation. We put online Doppler radar maps in motion to access a range of snow forecasts. For people, weather news underlies commuting times, power outages and snow sports that drive winter tourism. But for wildlife, winter weather spells survival or death for animals best-adapted to changing conditions.

Which animals win or lose during an open or low-snow winter?

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Solid Water

s.alt via Flickr

You learned a remarkable property of H2O back in High School chemistry. Remember?

Normally, the density of compounds decreases as temperatures increase and molecules spread out. When temperatures fall, density increases as molecules become more tightly packed. Not true for ice – in fact, the exact opposite occurs!

In liquid form, each water molecule’s hydrogen is bonded to 3 other water molecules. In ice form, each molecule’s hydrogen bonded to 4 others. These hydrogen bonds form an open arrangement that is less compact than liquid water.

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