Outdoors and Free
Friday, June 18, 2010
Volume 4, Issue 26

Wildlife Watching In New Hampshire Is Fun All Year

The are many outdoor recreations to enjoy in our state and one of them is wildlife watching. New Hampshire is more than eighty percent forested and that offers some challenges for viewing wildlife. It is easy for animals to remain secretive, allowing you only a glimpse as they turn and blend into their surroundings. Increasing your knowledge about animals, where they live, the season of the year when they are most visible can help you have successful viewing experiences. 

Listen in April and May for the choruses of spring peepers and wood frogs as they sing from the wetlands trying to attract a mate. Early June is a good time to see bear grazing on the ski slopes of Cannon Mountain and other such ski areas. Osprey can be spotted in July and August along the Androscoggin River. On a crisp, clear day in late September, Mount Kearsarge affords views of hundreds of broad-winged hawks as they migrate south. Winter is a great time to search for bald eagles along the lower Merrimack River, in Manchester, or to read the stories of winter survival by looking for tracks in the snow. 

Wildlife watching is a challenge, but there are tools and techniques to use that will make your experience more successful. The fact that you can never be sure just what you will see, makes wildlife watching a rewarding experience. It’s a goal in itself or it can be a wonderful addition to a fishing or hiking expedition or any outing. You’ll definitely need a good pair of binoculars. The selection can be complicated, so be sure to learn all you can before you buy. The best all purpose binoculars are those with power and dimensions of 7x35. This size binocular gathers a lot of light, allowing morning and evening hours use. Finding what you are looking at can be made easier if you first locate the object with your naked eye. Then, without moving your eyes, bring the binoculars to your eyes and focus. 

The color of your clothing may affect which animals you see. Birds can see color very well, so wear drab, earthy colored clothing to help avoid detection. Use field guides and other resources to identify wildlife and learn about their habits and habitats. These reference materials will give you a world of information to enrich your experience.

Another hint is to go out when wildlife is active. Plan your visits around peak viewing seasons or times of activity. There are several activity peaks in New Hampshire. The first is in April and June, when large numbers of migratory birds return and animals are busy raising their young. A second peak occurs in September and October when migratory birds begin to head south and mammals prepare for winter. The time of day also plays an important part in whether you will see animals or not. In general, wildlife is more active in the first and last hours of daylight.

Another important factor to a successful day of wildlife watching is patience and learning to be still and silent. You can improve your chances of seeing wildlife by slowing down. Take only a few steps, stop, listen and look. Sharpen your senses by paying attention to sounds and smells. Look for changes in shape and movement all around you. Avoid making noises by not stepping on brittle sticks and leaves or talking out loud. If possible, walk into the wind. If you arrive at a wildlife viewing site expecting to see a lot of wildlife right away, you may be disappointed. You need to allow yourself time. In some cases, sitting motionless next to a tree or bush will allow you to blend into your surroundings and in turn, the wildlife in the area will go about their daily routines.

You’ll increase your chances of having a successful viewing experience if you can conceal yourself. This can be done by simply standing behind a tree or bush instead of out in the open. Cars, boats and canoes make excellent viewing blinds. Animals who are used to seeing these objects may not feel threatened or disturbed unless you try to get out. I have seen numerous wildlife over the years just from fishing in my canoe and even in my 16 foot Sea Nymph Fishing Machine. 

When you prepare for your outing, try to learn everything you can about a wildlife viewing site before you visit. If it is a site that you are hiking into, make sure you know where you are going and have water, proper foot gear and clothes. During the spring and summer months, be prepared for insects. Bring along repellents and wear protective clothing. A hat with a brim and good sunglasses can protect your eyes from the sun while use of a sun block will protect your skin. 

Enjoy wildlife from a distance. The goal of successful wildlife watching is to see animals without interrupting their normal behavior. Wildlife send clear signals that you are too close when they stop feeding and raise their head sharply, move away, change direction of travel or appear nervous or aggressive. According to Fish and Game, these disturbances may result in an animal abandoning its young, injuring itself as it tries to escape, quit feeding at a time of critical energy need or displaying aggressive behavior toward you. 

Don’t pick up orphaned or sick animals. Wild animals rarely abandon their young. In most cases, the adults are nearby, waiting for visitors to leave before they return. If an animal appears to be sick, injured, behaves oddly or appears to be tame, leave it alone. There are a number of wildlife diseases, including rabies, that can affect humans. 

So, summer is here, the fishing is good and so are your opportunities for wildlife watching. Get out and enjoy New Hampshire.


Bob Harris can be reached via e-mail at: outwriter2@aol.com


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DISCLAIMER:  The opinions expressed by Mr. Harris are not necessarily those of the Goffstown Residents Association or its members

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