Something Wild

Every other Friday in Morning Edition at 6:45 and 8:45

Something Wild has been exploring the wonder of the landscape that surrounds us in New Hampshire for 20 years

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.

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

Courtesy Jerry McFarland via Flickr/Creative Commons.

As we hunker down for the winter weather, we’re frequently too preoccupied with what is in our front yards that we tend not to notice what isn’t there. The snow and ice have muscled out the grass, and the chilly sounds of the north wind have blown away the dawn chorus that woke us this summer. And short of finding a postcard in your mailbox from a warm exotic location, signed by your friendly neighborhood phoebe, you probably haven’t thought much about the birds that flitted through your yard just months ago.

Something Wild: Winter of Scarcity

Nov 23, 2018
Courtesy Angus Veitch via Flickr/Creative Commons.

This weekend of plenty is a time to celebrate the abundant harvest. But for a lot of species in the New Hampshire wilds, this is likely the early days of a winter of discontent.

Winter is always the lean time of the year, but this winter especially, biologists are expecting scarcity for all sorts of forest dwellers: birds, rodents and larger mammals. And naturally, our colleague from the Forest Society will remind us that it’s all because of the trees. And this time he’ll meet no disagreement. 

Seal
Richard Towell / Flickr Creative Commons

On a Tuesday morning in summer, 2017, Chris Martin boarded the John B. Heiser, a 33-foot research vessel,  headed for Duck Island. Mission: to count seals.

Dave shares a few tips about hiking safely and conscientiously.

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.

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.

Courtesy Allen Forrest via Flickr/Creative Commons.

Kirk Dorsey wanted to be an ornithologist, so he went to Cornell University. “But I was not a particularly good student at ornithology…all the biology classes. But I was taking history classes for fun.” And in his junior year he found himself in a US Foreign Policy class.

“There was a half a sentence in a text book, that in 1916, the United States and Canada negotiated a treaty to protect migratory birds. And I thought, ‘wow, I had no idea. I need to learn more about that.’” So, in graduate school, that became the subject of Dorsey’s dissertation.

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.

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.

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.

Courtesy Katja Schulz via Flickr/Creative Commons.

New Hampshire benefits from the presence of seven different turtle species. This week on Something Wild we’re taking a closer look at two of the most common species you can find all over the state: painted turtles and snapping turtles.

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 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 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.

 

Courtesy Louise LeCLerc via Flickr/Creative Common

First Bitten is our periodic series at Something Wild where we study the people who study nature, and what set them on the path to do that. And this time around our two subjects under the microscope trace their love of nature back to their parents's nurture, specifically their fathers. 

Ron Davis grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Not a place known for for its lakes or streams or for vast expanses of wilderness; not a place you'd expect to find a future biologist. But that's where he started, "and because of the Second World War my love of nature became greatly enhanced."

 

Smithsonian's National Zoo via Flickr

The porcupine’s only real predator is the fisher. It takes a tough critter to eat a porcupine. Even coyotes, one of the state's apex predators, instinctually knows to leave porcupines alone – a trait that is sadly not shared by their domestic cousin, who rack up vet bills to have quills removed from their snouts.

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.

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 Tracy Lee Carroll via Flickr/Creative Commons.

Here at Something Wild we love all things wild (even blackflies!) but sometimes it can be helpful to look beyond a single species and consider how many species interact within a given environment. In our periodic series, New Hampshire’s Wild Neighborhoods, we endeavor to do just that and this time we’re looking at peatlands.

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 WikiMedia

Imagine 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. 

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 N.H. Fish and Game.

Tom Murray via BugGuide.net

We often think of the “food chain” in the natural world in linear terms: this eats that, which in turn, is eaten by the other. But today’s subject proves that chain is a little more like a web. The species we’re talking about today feeds on the most dangerous game, the apex of apex predators…us. And the speicies that prey on us? Mosquitos, of course! We recently spoke with Sarah MacGregor, an entomologist and founder of Dragon Mosquito Control, help us learn more about them.

Axel Kristinsson via Flickr/Creative Commons

New Hampshire is experiencing one of those few rare and special weeks right now. About 48 weeks of the year, the New Hampshire landscape is pretty homogenous; from a distance our deciduous trees can all look the same: either a blanket of green leaves, or nothing but sticks. But during a few brief weeks in the fall and in the spring – trees show their true colors.

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.

Courtesy batwrangler via Flickr/Creative Commons.

It’s an unmistakable sound. One that elicits memories, sights and scents of events long ago. It recalls the joy of youth, the possibility of a spring evening. But it can also incite insomnia and the blind rage that accompanies it.

Courtesy Vincent Perrone via Flickr/Creative Commons.

Unfortunately, passing the Equinox, doesn't flip a switch on the weather. While we may be ready for spring temperatures and mild breezes, this week's winds and cold are a reminder that winter will not "go quietly into that good night." While it may not feel like spring, take solace from the fact that heading back to New Hampshire from the tropics, right now, are some of the most melodious songsters that we have: the woodland thrushes. 

NASA GOES

March 20th marks the Vernal Equinox.  It's one of two points on our calendar when day and night are of equal length. More or less. It may be more of a convenient handle we put on an arbitrary point on our annual revolution around the sun, but it is significant in that it marks the point in the year where we start seeing more daylight than darkness.  So with the days growing longer, this is a great time to talk about photoperiod.

Twenty years ago this week, New Hampshire Audubon, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and NHPR took our first tentative steps on a journey that would take listeners on weekly outdoor adventures all over the state.

Something Wild’s very first episode featured host, Rosemary Conroy, then with SPNHF, encouraging us to go outside and look and listen for the early signs of spring.

In the intervening decades, we’ve covered a lot of ground; whether it was Rosemary walking through the finer details of forest succession… 

Longtime NHPR Series Celebrates 20 Years’ of Exploring New Hampshire’s Wild Places

Visits to mountains and seashore, educated banter with biologists, and interesting encounters with wildlife are some of the many memories associated with New Hampshire Public Radio’s long-running radio series Something Wild.

Greta Tamošiunaite / Flickr

As the snow starts to melt you might notice a stark contrast in the landscape.  Maybe you were driving down the highway and noticed one shoulder was covered with snow while the other side was bare with a faint tinge of spring green shoots.  The cause?  Slope and aspect.  

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