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.


Something Wild Program Page

Tracy Lee Carroll

Even as we stare down the barrel of the coldest, darkest days of early January, the earliest signs of spring will soon begin anew - even before the first mail-order seed catalogs arrive.  Early harbingers of this new natural year are subtle. Spring renewal begins with hardy birds that remain winter residents, those species best-adapted to our northern winters.

Ancient tree-worshipers – Druids - believed mistletoe possessed magical powers because it grows high in bare oaks, shedding lush green leaves even in midwinter. Druids harvested mistletoe to hang in households to promote fertility. Translation of the folklore over centuries creates the holiday custom of hanging mistletoe to elicit a Christmas kiss.

Rick Ganley

Why do products cloak themselves in natural imagery and metaphor? The auto industry has long co-opted Nature nouns: Falcons, Jaguars, Cougars, Impalas, Mustangs and Rams…

Stefan Berkner, Flickr Creative Commons

On a rare warm-for-late-November afternoon, a tiny cloud of swarming insects dances in a slanting sunbeam – tiny midges!

Late autumn midge swarms are the last free-flying insects following hard freezes. They emerge for one last dance in fading sunlight just before the entire insect “Queendom” collapses under snow as the natural year closes.

Midges comprise a huge group of insects with estimates of more than 10,000 species worldwide.

Julie Blaustein / Flickr Creative Commons

November becomes fitful; restless. Its moods teeter toward somber: steely-gray or blue and cold.  Even under fair skies, low-angle sunlight triggers some ancestral longing – winter is coming and pantries, root cellars and woodsheds should be chock-full.

Traditionally, November was the time for butchering livestock. Indoors, it remains “kitchen season.” The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to cook and eat - and then yawn and nap. Outdoors, it’s “forest season” custom-made for cutting wood or deer hunting at classic rustic, North Country hunting camps.

Courtesy photo: Kevin Martin, NH Big Tree Program

Do you know New Hampshire is home to seven national champion “Big Trees?” These are the largest examples of their species discovered nationwide. New Hampshire hosts the largest black locust, mountain-ash, pitch pine, eastern white pine, black spruce, staghorn sumac and black birch in the entire US. They’re among 760 champion trees documented by The NH Big Tree Program.

A recent American Forests magazine featured NH's Big Tree program and highlighted efforts by dedicated volunteers searching for the biggest trees in the state. 

hynkle via Flickr Creative Commons

For homeowners, the floating, spinning or tumbling tree seeds that collect on lawns, patios, gutters and driveways require raking or sweeping. Those "pesky" shade trees! Yet consider the tremendous wildlife food source and genetic wealth that seed crops represent, particularly cyclical acorn crops in NH!

Peter Gray / NH Audubon

Twenty five years ago, bald eagles and peregrine falcons were struggling to return from the brink of extinction.  A handful of outdated surveys were all that existed to assess the location and condition of most wildlife species.  Conservationists and biologists from New Hampshire Audubon, the State, and universities raised the call to "do something!"

Fallen Apples

Sep 13, 2013
(Photo by Sebastian Droge via Flickr Creative Commons)

Robert Frost's apple poem "Unharvested" begins: 

A scent of ripeness from over a wall.
And come to leave the routine road
And look for what had made me stall,
There sure enough was an apple tree
That had eased itself of its summer load,
And of all but its trivial foliage free…

Yellow Jacket Season

Aug 30, 2013
Ross and Lori Reed via Flickr

Forests are often bone dry at the end of the hot summer. When dusty leaves of poison ivy and wild grape vines display the first crimson tinge of fall, underground “yellow-jacket” hornet nests reach their maximum annual size and ferocity beneath brushy fields and woodlands.

The papery hornet nests are packed with nutritious, fat and protein-rich larvae. The grubs are defended aggressively by agitated worker hornets that will soon lie dead after the first hard freeze.

Brenda Charpentier

It's the most unusually-shaped trees in the forest that fire the human imagination. After all, the misshapen, warped, multi-trunked, split and hollowed trees have long been favored as homes by woodland cartoon figments: elves, dwarfs and ogres - not to mention Pooh bears, Piglets and wise old owls.

Carrie Deegan via NH Forest Society

Mount Monadnock is allegedly the most-climbed mountain in the western hemisphere. Recently, I attended Monadnock Trail Week event from July 12th to 16th at Mount Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey, Marlborough and Dublin. The Forest Society and N.H. State Parks staff invite volunteers to help restore degraded sections of the heavily used hiking trails during this annual five day event.

One more reason to be thankful, New Hampshire: we did NOT experience the periodic cicada invasion this summer. You've likely heard about the mass synchronized emergence of billions of periodic cicadas this summer across the Eastern Seaboard from Virginia north to New Jersey, New York and as far as northern Connecticut - NOT New Hampshire.

Wikimedia Commons

Here's a dubious Granite State superlative: New Hampshire has the third highest incidence of Lyme disease in the country following Delaware and Connecticut!

Southern New Hampshire is prime tick habitat. Deer ticks - not dog ticks - are THE vector for human Lyme disease. Two-toned solid colored deer ticks, also called "black-legged ticks" are smaller than familiar mottled brown dog ticks.

blmiers2 via Flickr Creative Commons

Welcome summer! Today is "Summer Solstice" - the annual crest of sunlight when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky is "solar maximum."  Imagine for a moment the green living infrastructure of our planet as a vast industrial factory seasonally producing carbohydrates and oxygen… call it a "manufacturing plant" if you will.

A Babe in the Woods

Jun 7, 2013

White-tailed deer give birth to cryptic-colored, white-spotted fawns by early June in New Hampshire. Does typically give birth to twins, rarely triplets.  More single fawns are born to younger does, or in years of harsh winter weather with deep snow.   Does choose a secluded and yet open area to birth while scanning for any approaching danger.

Forest Society

Memorial Day Weekend is late for trees to unfurl tiny, tender pale green leaves. Yet trees growing at the highest altitudes of our State's White Mountain National Forest are among the last to leaf-out each spring.

Hikers are familiar with a curious phenomenon only conspicuous in late spring and again during autumn foliage season: faint diagonal stripes - like a barber pole - appear on forested flanks of many White Mountain peaks.

Marsh Marigold

May 10, 2013
Dave Anderson

Among the most conspicuous wildflowers of early May, my favorite is a native wetland plant, the yellow so-called “Marsh Marigold.” It’s also called “American cowslip” and is always found blooming early in marshes, roadside ditches, fens and wet woodlands and at watery edges of damp pastures.

Marsh marigold is a hardy, native perennial. It’s considered to be one of the ancestral plants of the northern latitudes. It’s thought to have thrived in torrents of post-glacial melt-water following the last “glaciation” in the northern hemisphere.

Shell Game / Flickr/Creative Commons

  One of the rituals I shared with my children when they were growing up was stalking woodcocks during their spring courtship display. I guess I was sort of emulating a hero of mine named Aldo Leopold.

At twilight on April evenings, the woodcocks perform what naturalist Aldo Leopold described as "The Sky Dance" in an essay of the same title from his book A Sand Country Almanac, it's a sort of Bible for conservationists.

Forest Pharmacy

Apr 12, 2013
Forest Society

The Chairman of the Society of Forest Medicine at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, Japan Dr. Qing Li, studies nature’s effect on the human immune system. A person’s natural immune cells called “NK cells” can be reliably measured in a lab. NK cells function like white blood cells to increase resistance to illness including cancer by sending self-destruct messages to tumors and virus-infected cells. Stress, aging and pesticides reduce NK counts.

Solar Salamanders

Mar 29, 2013
NH Fish & Game

The online blog “Zoo-logger” reports on “solar powered” spotted salamanders, an amphibian common to New Hampshire and migrating soon to a vernal pool near you!

The January issue of Atlantic Monthly online reported a curious connection between the death of 100 million ash trees killed after the arrival of the invasive, exotic “Emerald Ash borer” beetle in lower Michigan to an ensuing spike in rates of human heart disease and pulmonary illness including pneumonia.

Greg Clark, via mirror-pole.com

Welcome to March! If you walk in the forest this week, you might detect the song of a non-descript little brown bird called the "brown creeper." 

Brown creepers are hard to see. Their habit is to creep upward on tree trunks, often in spiral fashion remaining well-hidden. It sports mottled "tree-bark pattern" camouflage.

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.

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".

Two Sides To A Thaw

Jan 25, 2013

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!

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."

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.

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.

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.