Something Wild

Fridays at 8:35 am

For nearly 20 years, Something Wild has explored the wonder that is the landscape that surrounds us in New Hampshire. From the many birds that call our state home to the trees around New Hampshire that have been granted "Big Trees" status to stone walls that perforate the state, we explain the behavior and science behind what we see and hear and might take for granted in our backyards.

Seeing something new on your favorite hike, or wondering about something mundane at your bird feeder? Drop us a question and we'll tell you Something Wild!

Something Wild is hosted by Dave Anderson and Chris Martin; and produced by Andrew Parrella.

Click here to get our podcast on iTunes.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH:

Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
New Hampshire Audubon

Ways to Connect

Seal
Richard Towell / Flickr Creative Commons

On a Tuesday morning last summer, Chris Martin boarded the John B. Heiser, a 33-foot research vessel,  headed for Duck Island. Mission: to count seals.

Picture yourself in the grocery store. You’ve got an organized list in your hand and you’re looking for the things on that list. And as you go down the aisles you’re whizzing by dozens, maybe hundreds, of things on the shelves until your eye picks out that one jar of peanut butter that you have on your list. It’s an efficiency technique that helps you find what you’re looking for.

A common theme on Something Wild is breeding. (Which is why we always sip our tea with our pinkies extended.) Seriously, though, we talk about the how, when and where because there are a lot of different reproductive strategies that have evolved in nature. Today we take a closer look at two such strategies through the lens of "how often": semelparity and iteroparity.

Every year there seems to be a different insect making a nuisance of itself. Some of them are harmless, but some are plagues upon us or our forests. It was only a year ago that Gypsy moths made their presence known in southern New England, where trees in some areas were hit pretty hard by the voracious caterpillar. And while incidents like these tend to spark a lot of discussion about how people might help reduce the damage, it’s worth remembering that the trees these caterpillars feed on are not entirely helpless.

I rolled into the parking lot of the Mountain Wanderer Book Store in Lincoln, New Hampshire. I was there to meet two White Mountain hiking experts. Authors Mike Dickerman of Bond Cliff Books and Steve Smith, editor of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Hiking Guide. Steve also owns the Mountain Wanderer. From the bookstore, we drove to a nearby trail head for the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area in Lincoln.

Jimmy Baikovicius via flickr Creative Commons

Today’s topic is perfect for the fall season: cleaning up the leaves. Yes, it’s that time of year again, and if you hate raking as much as we do we’ve got some good news for you. It really doesn’t have to be so…well…impulsive.

Marko Kivelä via flickr Creative Commons

We love answering listener's questions and recently we received one that is a common query at both the Audubon and the Forest Society.

Why is it that some years there are tons of acorns and other years hardly any?

Chris Martin/NHPR/NHA

We started the day on Appledore Island, just outside Portsmouth Harbor. The Shoals Marine Lab, resident there, traces its history back to 1928. Among the biologists spending the summer there this year were Dr. Elizabeth Craig, Tern Conservation Program Manager. "There are three species that I’m hoping we’re going to see today; the common tern, the roseate tern and the arctic tern." In her orientation she walks through the differences among the species, but all three are long lived, which for birds, means 10-30 year life-spans.

Recently the Something Wild team went for a hike. One thing to bear in mind when walking with knowledgeable biologists like Chris and Dave, is that hikes take longer than they might if you were walking on your own. 

National Audubon Society

The iconic call of the loon is one you’ll hear on ponds and lakes throughout the state. We’re checked in with John Cooley, Senior Biologist with the Loon Preservation Committee to learn a bit about the bird and the state of its welfare.

The iconic call of the loon is one you’ll hear on ponds and lakes throughout the state. We’re checked in with John Cooley, Senior Biologist with the Loon Preservation Committee to learn a bit about the bird and the state of its welfare.

Something Wild recently visited Maria Colby, director of Wings of the Dawn Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Henniker.

Courtesy dimitrisokolenko via Creative Commons.

Labor Day weekend is often summer’s last hurrah – or at least our last chance to participate in those uniquely summer pastimes. So we thought we’d go out with some sun, surf and a nice breeze by exploring another of New Hampshire’s Wild Neighborhoods. And once again we take a tour of great place to visit, but a hard place to eke out a living.

Anderson/SPNHF

We don't often think of trees when we speak of "harvest." Corn is harvested; apples, tomatoes, squash are the fruits of the annual autumnal rite which is the province of our farmers. Maybe it's because those plants are harvested at the end of their lifespan that we don't lament the moment they are cut down. We're much more precious with our trees.

Robert Taylor via Flickr

You may be familiar with hoarders (not the TV show, but same idea).  In nature, a hoarder will hide food in one place.  Everything it gathers will be stored in a single tree or den.  But for some animals one food cache isn't enough.  We call them scatter hoarders.

Courtesy Mark Yokoyama via Flickr/Creative Commons

Something Wild fan, Michael Carrier, wrote in recently, he said “If possible could you do a program about identifying some of the more common sounds you hear at dusk or night in New Hampshire.”

Yeah, we can do that.

  

So a typical evening scene in Anytown, New Hampshire is a symphony of sound. A screen door slams in the distance…a jake brake startles the neighbor’s dog…the weekend warrior fires up her motorcycle…But as the evening settles in and human sounds fade away we can better hear the natural world.

Midge Eliassen

How do you determine the age of a tree?  Just count the rings, of course!  One ring equals one year of growth.  If you’ve ever stumbled upon a tree stump you may have even done it yourself.  But if you’re counting rings on a stump, the life of that tree is over.  So how do you count those rings while the tree is alive?  Experts use a special tool called an “increment borer”.

  

Courtesy of Colleen P of Newington via Flickr/Creative Commons.

In this part of the country the Corvid family includes blue jays, gray jays, crows, and ravens. And ravens – Corvus corax – are the smartest of this intelligent family, actually their brain to body ratio is on par with whales and the great apes. 

Courtesy Tony Alter via Flickr/Creative Commons.

We know…we’ve been remiss, and it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. Something Wild, as you know, is a chance to take a closer look at the wildlife, ecosystems and marvelous phenomena you can find in and around New Hampshire. But over the years there is one species in New Hampshire that we haven’t spent much time examining. A species, I think that has been conspicuous in its absence. Humans.

Courtesy DES

To everything there is a season and this is the season when we go swimming and we spend a lot of time talking about Cyanobacteria. So what is it, exactly? we spoke with Sonya Carlson in 2016 when she was the head of the Beach Inspection Program with the state Department of Environmental Services and gave us a primer on the micro-organism.

Qualsiasi/flickr

Today’s topic is thunderstorms. Summer in NH brings those triple H days – hazy, hot, and humid! On days like those there’s nothing more welcome than the arrival of a late-afternoon thunderstorm, leaving in its wake cool, refreshing air, scrubbed clean of haze and pollution.

Evans-Brown/NHPR.

Outside/In host Sam Evans-Brown, joined us in the field this week at Something Wild. We were in Sutton, NH tracking some turkey vulture chicks, because Dave discovered some vultures living among the rocks in a nearby cliff-face.

Courtesy Duncan C via Flickr/Creative Commons.

At Something Wild we like to talk about some of the interesting wildlife or natural occurrences you can find in New Hampshire. We hope you learn a little something wild along the way; sometimes that’s birds and bees, sometimes that’s flowers and trees, but today we want to talk about that thing called love. 

Something Wild: Porcupines Aren't As Prickly As You Thought

Jun 9, 2017
Smithsonian's National Zoo via Flickr

We’ve been hearing a lot about porcupines this year. They seem to be everywhere! It’s positively a plague of porcupines!

So why are there so many? Biologists don’t have an official answer, but Dave Anderson has a hypothesis involving coyotes and fisher cats. The porcupine’s only real predator is the fisher. It takes a tough critter to eat a porcupine. Anecdotally, trackers and hunters are reporting that fisher numbers appear to be down this year, so it makes sense that porcupine numbers are up.

Courtesy Heidi Asbjornsen

The specter of drought is often raised in these early days of summer. And for good reason, though water levels have returned to normal around the New Hampshire, state officials are still warning residents to remain cautious after last summer drought. And while we often fret about the health of our lawns and our gardens, Dave (from the Forest Society) wanted to address drought resistance among his favorite species, trees.

Flkr Creative Commons / US Fish and Wildlife

Talk of turkey is usually relegated to the month of November as we stuff ourselves with eating yams and cranberry jelly, and watch college football. And the misperception about Ben Franklin proposing the wild turkey as our national bird, is usually not far behind.

Courtesy stillwellmike via Flickr/Creative Commons.

The battlefield is ancient. Strewn with the debris of generations. Trees splintered, rocks shattered. Neither side will yield this talus slope in the pursuit of that which is most coveted. This is Game of Stones.  

Actually, this is just another installment of New Hampshire’s Wild Neighborhoods, and this time we’re scaling the battle ground known as Talus. And there was some disagreement at Something Wild about whether we should call it “talus” or “talus woodland”.

Courtesy Brendan Clifford, via NH Fish & Game

Before we get into this week's topic, check out Chris and Dave's recent appearance on NHPR's Outside/In. They joined host Sam Evans-Brown for a special edition of "Ask Sam".

There are few sounds in nature that command your attention as effectively as the rattle of a rattlesnake. And though these snakes are not aggressive, that sound does elicit a hard-wired, innate fear response. Roughly translating to “Watch Your Step, Mister!” the rattle is an alarm designed to stop trouble before it starts.

Courtesy WikiMedia

Image yourself on a walk in the woods. It’s early spring; tiny tree flowers are clinging to branches. A nearby stream quietly gurgles and peepers pepper the air. Idyllic, right? Then, all of a sudden….a brobdingnagian buzz from a lilliputian louse! Paradise lost! (Sorry, mixing Miltonian metaphors.)

Well…maybe not. 

Courtesy Hamish Irvine via Flickr/Creative Commons

A Something Wild fan wrote in recently with a question or two. Ben, a backyard beekeeper in Deerfield, asks “I know there has been a lot of buzz about chemicals getting into the bee's main protein source, pollen. It would be really cool if you could mention the bees and what kind of plants the bees pollinate (and are exposed to) throughout the various seasons. Furthermore! Where in the world are the bees getting pollen in the winter? Sometimes I even see my bees bringing in pollen from who knows where on the rare warm day in the wintertime." 

A Parrella/NHPR Staff

So, this partnership among NHPR, New Hampshire Audubon and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is one in which bird and tree knowledge is well represented. But much of the state’s wildlife, as you’ve no doubt noticed, can be classified as “other.” Today we tackle some of that other, in the form of the garter snake with Mike Marchand, Wildlife Biologist with NH Fish and Game.

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