Celestial Seasonings – October 2019

By Heather Durham | September 30, 2019

This month offers an almost nightly schedule of celestial events, the majority of which are viewable with the naked eye. There is quite a plethora to view. As well, we will enjoy the full Hunter’s Moon (the first Moon after the Harvest Moon). Happy birthday to NASA!

Meteor showers take their names from the constellation or comet in the portion of the sky in which they appear. For instance, the Draconids appear near the constellation Draco, the Perseids appear near the constellation Perseus, the Taurids appear near the constellation Taurus, etc.

October 1

Happy birthday NASA…..which turns 61 today!

The Moon is at its closest to the Sun today as well (Space.com, 2019; Seasky.org, 2019).

October 2

There will be a Change of Command ceremony at the International Space Station. Luca Parmitano from the European Space Agency will replace Russian Cosmonaut Alexsey Ovchinin.

M31 (the Andromeda galaxy) may be viewed with binoculars. (It is also known as NGC 224).

October 3

There will be conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter, when the waxing crescent Moon will pass by less than 2 degrees to the north of Jupiter in the evening sky.

The planet Mercury, will be at its furthest point from the sun. Around 18:39 EDT, from Milton, they both should be visible.

October 5

There will be a conjunction of the Moon and Saturn, during which time the Moon will pass less than a degree to the south of Saturn. The two of them may be visible in the evening sky.

NGC 300, which is a spiral galaxy in the Sculptor constellation, is located where it can be observed above our southern horizon.

October 6

Today, the October Camelopardalid meteor shower reaches its peak.

October 8

Draconids Meteor Shower. This minor shower that produces about 10 meteors per hour will peak this year on October 8. Viewing will be the best in the evening or most likely around midnight as it follows the setting of the first quarter Moon which will set by then. These meteors will appear anywhere in the sky. From Milton, the shower will display directly above the horizon and will be active throughout the night.

October 9

A bright Mercury will be well placed in the evening sky.

 October 10

The Moon reaches its furthest place from the Sun.

The peak of the Southern Taurid meteor shower occurs on this date. From Milton, however, it won’t be visible before 18:56 pm EDT each night. Look towards the eastern horizon.

October 15

M33 from the Triangulum Galaxy is viewable. (It is also known as NGC 598).

October 19

Mercury will be shining bright.

October 20

Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation. This planet reaches elongation of 24.6 degrees from the sun and can be viewed low in the western sky just after sunset (Seasky.org, 2019).

October 21-22

Orionids Meteor Shower. This shower, an average one, can display up to 20 meteors per hour when at its peak. These dust grains from Halley’s comet will peak on the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd. The Orionids tend to be bright even though the second quarter Moon will block some of the ones furthest away. View from a dark sky just after midnight. The best and brightest displays will occur near 05:00 AM EDT..

October 24

The peak of the Leonids meteor shower occurs on this date. The best display is said to be just before dawn.

October 26

There will be a conjunction of Mars and the Moon.

The western half of NGC 869 in the constellation Perseus may be viewable around midnight in or near Milton.

October 27

Uranus at Opposition. At times between 19:35 and 5:16, it should become visible from Milton.

October 29

There will be a conjunction of the Moon and Mercury, as well as one of the Moon and Venus.

The face of this blue-green planet will be fully lit by the sun. It should be visible all night long but is best viewed by telescope.

October 31

There will be a conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter. Look to see the Moon go by approximately one degree north of Jupiter in the evening sky.

Previous in sequence: Celestial Seasonings – September 2019; next in sequence: Celestial Seasonings – November 2019


In-the-sky.org. (2019, September). Guides to the Night Sky. Retrieved from  https://in-the-sky.org/search.php

Seasky.org. (2019, September). Astronomy Reference Guide. Retrieved from http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy.html

Space.com. (2019, September). Space Launch Calendar 2019: Sky Events, Missions & More. Retrieved from https://www.space.com/32286-space-calendar.html

Wikipedia. (2019, September 22). Alexsey Ovchinin. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksey_Ovchinin

Wikipedia. (2019, September 25). Andromeda Galaxy. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andromeda_Galaxy

Wikipedia. (2019, September 17). Conjunction (Astronomy). Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjunction_(astronomy)

Wikipedia. (2019, September 19).Draconids. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draconids

Wikipedia. (2019, September 22). Leonids. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonids

Wikipedia. (2019, September 22). Luca Parmitano. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luca_Parmitano

Wikipedia. (2019, September 21). Messier Object. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messier_object

Wikipedia. (2019, May 28). New General Catalogue. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_General_Catalogue

Wikipedia. (2019, August 14). NGC 300. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NGC_300

Wikipedia. (2018, August 16). NGC 869. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NGC_869

Wikipedia. (2019, June 9). Opposition (Astronomy). Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposition_(astronomy)

Wikipedia. (2019,September 30). Orionids. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orionids

Wikipeida. (2019, September 24). Perseids. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perseids

Wikipedia. (2019, September 26). Sculptor (Constellation). Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sculptor_(constellation)

Wikipedia. (2019, September 28). Taurids. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taurids

Wikipedia. (2019, September 23). Triangulum Galaxy. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangulum_Galaxy

Blackfly Song

By Muriel Bristol | May 20, 2019

The blackflies made their annual reappearance last week. Wednesday (May 15) at my house). That fits pretty well with their traditional schedule of between Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day.

Last year, we provided both a general description (Black Flies Return) and a folk remedy for their itching bites (Hot Water for Itchy Bug Bites).

That having been covered already, the following Canadian folk song – Blackfly Song – as sung in 1955 by its author Wade Hemsworth, might give some sense of the joy that is blackfly season.

We are not facing them in the woods of North Ontario, thankfully, but their Milton cousins are fierce enough, thank you.

Blackfly Song

‘Twas early in the spring when I decide to go
For to work up in the woods in North Ontar-i-o;
And the unemployment office said they’d send me through
To the Little Abitibi with the survey crew
And the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

And the man Black Tobey was the captain of the crew
And he said, I’m gonna tell you boys, what we’re gonna do:
They want to build a power dam; we must find a way
For to make the Little Ab flow around the other way
With the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

So we survey to the east, survey to the west,
Couldn’t make our minds up how to do it best;
Little Ab, Little Ab, what shall I do?
I’m all but goin’ crazy with the survey crew
And the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

It was blackfly, blackfly, everywhere,
A-crawlin’ in your whiskers, crawlin’ in your hair;
Swimmin’ in the soup, swimmin’ in the tea,
And the devil take the blackfly, let me be.
Black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

Black Tobey fell to swearin’; the work went slow,
The state of our morale was a-gettin’ pretty low;
The flies swarmed heavy; hard to catch your breath,
As you staggered up and down the trail a-talkin’ to yourself
With the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

Well now, the bull cook’s name was Blind River Joe,
If it hadn’t been for him we’d ‘ve never pulled through;
‘Cause he bound up our bruises and he kidded us for fun,
And he lathered us with bacon grease and balsam gum.
And the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

And at last the job was over; Black Tobey said we’re through
With the Little Abitibi and the survey crew!
‘Twas a wonderful experience and this I know:
I’ll never go again to North Ontar-i-o
With the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

And the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.


Wikipedia. (2018, December 14). Little Abitibi River. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Abitibi_River

YouTube. (2015, May 20). Blackfly Song. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIzw1j4onNc

Happy Pi Day

By Muriel Bristol | March 14, 2019

Today is Pi Day. It is an unofficial holiday that celebrates the mathematical constant known by the Greek letter π, which is rendered in English as Pi (pronounced “Pie”).

Pi represents the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter. It is an irrational number, which is to say that it cannot be represented as a common fraction. (22/7 is sometimes used as an “approximation,” due to which an alternate or supplementary holiday, Pi Approximation Day, is sometimes celebrated on July 22).

Pi’s decimal equivalent has an infinite number of digits that have no settled pattern. Its first few digits are: 3.14159 … Pi is used in many, many formulas and applications in many fields of study. Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 due its US calendar representation of 3-14.

Mr. Plissken reminds me of an amusing story regarding Pi. It seems that the Indiana state legislature once tried to legally define Pi as being 3. Of course, this was patent nonsense. But the hubris of politicians and regulators knows no bounds. They blithely define penalties as taxes, and vice versa, amid a host of other definitional absurdities. (Milton just encountered something similar in a proposed change to its zoning definitions). The Indiana legislature drew back at the brink, although their attempt at imposing their ignorance on the world as a law has made them an infinitely repeating laughing stock.

Many people celebrate Pi Day by partaking in some of its homophone: Pie. Apple pie, cherry pie, Boston crème pie, whatever you like. You may contemplate the ineffable mysteries of Pi while you enjoy your pie.

Have a very happy Pi Day!


Amazon. (2019, March 14). The Pi Dish – Stoneware Funny Pie Plate. Retrieved from www.amazon.com/Pi-Dish-Stoneware-Funny-Plate/dp/B00D3LANRS

Exploratorium. (2019). Pi (π) Day. Retrieved from www.exploratorium.edu/pi

Pi Day. (2019). Learn About Pi. Retrieved from www.piday.org/

Wikipedia. (2019, February 28). Indiana Pi Bill. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Pi_Bill

Wikipedia. (2019, March 13). Pi Day. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi_Day

Milton and the Gypsy Moth in 1911

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | November 2, 2018

Here is extracted the description and data of 1911 Milton gypsy moth “scouting” only, from a rather lengthy and interesting scientific discussion of the progression of the Gypsy Moth.

RECORD OF SCOUTING IN MILTON, N.H. On October 25, 1911, a crew of experienced scouts under the direction of William Sarsfield commenced the examination of the trees in Milton east of the Boston & Maine Railroad. This territory is hilly and the towns south and southwest of it are generally very badly infested. The area examined covered about 18 square miles, 13 of which are wooded. The forest growth was as follows, according to estimates furnished by Mr. Sarsfield:

Conifers 29 [Per Cent], Elm 4 [Per Cent], Oak 13 [Per Cent], Beech 20 [Per Cent], Maple 16 [Per Cent], Miscellaneous 7 [Per Cent], Ash 2 [Per Cent]. 

In the winter of 1910-11, the orchards in this area were scouted and 21 infestations were found, practically all of which had a single egg cluster. In the whole town, the greater area of which is on the west side of the railroad, 159 egg clusters were found in 55 localities .

In 1911-12 14 woodland infestations of 59 egg clusters and 22 orchard and roadside infestations of 202 clusters were found east of the railroad. The woodland infestations were in the territory between the Milton railroad station and the south end of the town. In the part of the town west of the railroad only the roadsides and orchards were examined, and 6,602 egg clusters were found in 57 localities.

The results of scouting in this town show that the infestation is increasing rapidly in both woodland and orchards. The figures for the two years are significant, for in the western part of the town the infested localities in one year more than doubled. and the number of egg clusters was more than 40 times greater than the previous year.


US Department of Agriculture. (1913, February 11). The Dispersion of the Gypsy Moth. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=HwTWrOqweJAC&pg=RA4-PA1

Milton Water Power in 1885

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | November 7, 2018

The following 1885 description of water power on the Salmon Falls River is extracted from a larger report compiled for the entire country. It was created as a part of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. This extract begins at East Rochester and moves upstream to Milton Mills, with some consideration of the tributaries of the Salmon Fall River above Milton Mills.

At East Rochester is the next improved power on the river, that of the Cocheco Woolen Manufacturing Company. The dam is of wood, 10½ feet high, founded on ledge, ponding the water only about 1,400 feet to the dam above. The fall used is 10½ feet at mill No. 3, situated at the dam, and using 50 horse-power, while at mills No. 1 and No. 2, to which the water is led by a canal 700 feet long and 20 feet wide, the fall is 16½ feet and the power some 150 (?) horse power. Full capacity can be secured at all times excepting sometimes on Saturday, when the Great Falls Company shut the reservoirs above, in which case mill No. 3 is run by steam. Water generally runs over the dam day and night.

At the head of the pond last mentioned is a second privilege owned by the same company, with a wooden dam 8 feet high, ponding the water 2 miles, and affording power for a saw- and grist-mill, with a fall of 8 feet. The further development of this power is talked of. 

A short distance above this privilege is the site of a woolen-mill, which was burned in 1882. The fall was 8 feet, with a canal a third of a mile long.

The next power is a saw- and grist-mill, 1½ mile below Milton, the fall being 11 feet with a dam 8 feet high. Between this power and the one below there is said to be a small fall once used, but now idle. It is probably of no importance.

Between the last power and Milton Three ponds is the largest fall on the river, amounting probably to not less than 120 feet in 1½ mile, and some 200 feet in 3 miles. (a) The fall is continuous, over ledges of solid rock, the banks being also very rocky and sometimes steep. This entire fall is controlled by the Great Falls Manufacturing Company, and is only utilized by a small mill at the outlet of the ponds. Of this large fall a considerable portion could be utilized, though it is impossible to say how much. As regards building dams, no difficulty would be experienced, but it might sometimes be difficult to find good locations for mills and canals, on account of the toughness of the banks. At the “flume” there is a fall of about 15 feet in 100 feet, the width of the stream being very small; and above it there is an equal fall in as short a distance. A short distance above, the Great Falls company has erected a dam and a mill, the dam being of wood about 16 feet high, and only about 30 or 40 feet long, between cliffs of rock. The mill has never been used, and no wheel has been put in. The fall is 16 feet. Above the dam there is a fall of 15 feet, or thereabout, to the foot of the dam at the outlet of the ponds, which is 16 feet high. The fall here is used by a small excelsior mill a short distance below the dam, using a fall of 14 feet when the ponds are full, with about 25 horse-power, and only running about ten months. 

Any estimate of the power available at this place is very uncertain, because it depends entirely upon the manner in which the reservoirs are operated by the Great Falls Company. To judge from the amount of power below, I should say that a power of 12 horse-power per foot fall could be depended upon at all times, if it could be all used during working hours. The reservoirs, however, are often closed on Saturday, so that they may partly fill up, and the supply is drawn from Mast Point pond during that day, the reservoirs being opened again on Monday morning. If mills should be located, therefore, on this fall, they might not be able to run on Saturday, while at other times the supply of water would be excessive. Similar disadvantages are always experienced by mills located near reservoirs which are controlled in the interest of mills situated far below. Not only would there probably be a lack of water on Saturday, but during other days there would always be a waste at night, for while the Ponds are open they are allowed to flow night and day; and as there are no facilities for storing water at night within the distance occupied by the fall referred to, there would be no possibility of concentrating the power into working hours. These or similar considerations have perhaps been those which have prevented the utilization of the power, which is favorably situated, within easy reach of the railroad, and with building materials close at hand.

The next power above Milton Three ponds is at Milton mills, where there are several dams, and above which the fall is rapid all the way to the source of the river. The lowest dam is owned by the Waumbeck Manufacturing Company, and the power is leased, being used by a woolen-mill and a felt-mill, one with a fall of 8 feet and 36 horsepower, and the other with a fall of 10 feet and 60 horse power. Full capacity can only be obtained during out nine or ten months, as the water is drawn from Great East pond in such a way as to cause a lack of water during a few months. The next dam is that supplying the woolen-mill of the Waumbeck Company. It is 14 feet high, the fall is 14 feet, and the power 75 horse-power, steam-power being in reserve. The next dam is of stone, 15 feet high, with flash-boards and supplies Buffum’s felt-mill, the fall being 15 feet and the power being 60 horse-power, steam-power being in reserve to the same extent. Above this is a reservoir belonging to the Waumbeck Company, the dam (called the Hooper dam) being of stone and from 15 to 18 feet high. The reservoir holds about one day’s supply. The next above is an unutilized privilege, called the “Jewett” privilege, once used by a small mill. The fall was about 12 feet, but it is said that 18 feet or more could be obtained. Above it is a second reservoir of the Waumbeck Company, the dam being of stone, 8 feet high, and the pond (known as Roe pond) holding about twenty-four hours’ storage. Above it are some saw mills, one at the dam at the outlet of Horn pond. There is no fall not utilized on this part of the stream, excepting that at the Jewett privilege. The mills, however, are obliged to have steam-power in reserve, on account of the intermittent flow from the reservoirs. 

The tributaries of the Salmon Falls river are not of much consequence. Of those from New Hampshire the only one to be mentioned is Branch river, which rises in Cook’s pond and empties into Three Ponds. At Union Village there are four mills on this stream running all the year. Of the tributaries from Maine the only one to be mentioned is Great Works river, which empties just below South Berwick, at the head of tide-water. It is a small stream, draining only about 92 square miles, and its flow is not very constant. It has one artificial reservoir, known as Bonny Bigg pond, covering about 500 acres – according to Wells, 1,600 acres – from which 8 or 10 feet may be drawn. At the mouth of the river is a saw- and grist-mill, with a dam 12 feet high, using a fall of 14 feet. The power available is probably about 65 horse-power net at its minimum during eleven hours. Less than a mile above this site there was formerly a dam, with a fall of about 18 feet, the privilege being now idle. It belongs to the Newichawanick Company, which owns the mills just above, and it would probably afford a power of 80 horse-power net during working hours, when the flow is at its minimum, and considerably more during the greater part of the year. Just above, or about a mile above the mouth of the stream, at Newichawanick falls, are the two dams of the Newichawanick Company, one 22 feet high, affording a fall of 29 feet, with 90 horse-power all the time, and the other 13 feet high, affording a fall of 17 feet, with 80 horse-power. These powers are excellent in almost every respect, and are in close proximity to several railroads. The gross power available during the low season of dry years is probably not less than 7 or 8 horse-power per foot fall, and during ordinary years 10 or over. During nine months probably twice as much could be utilized. Above this there are no powers worth describing.

The following tables give the power utilized on the coast streams of New Hampshire, compiled from the returns, and the drainage areas of the principal streams:

Table of drainage areas of the coast streams of New Hampshire

  • Exeter river [Stream; Tributary to] Great bay [Above what point] Exeter [Drainage area] 113 [Sq. miles]
  • Lamprey river [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] Newmarket [Drainage area] 210 [Sq. miles]
  • Oyster river [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] Mouth [Drainage area] 20 [Sq. miles]
  • Bellamy river [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] do [Drainage area] 30 [Sq. miles]
  • Cocheco river [Stream; Tributary to] Piscataqua river [Above what point] Dover [Drainage area] 183 [Sq. miles]
  • Do [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] Gonic [Drainage area] 90 [Sq. miles]
  • Do [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] Rochester [Drainage area] 72 [Sq. miles]
  • Salmon Falls river [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] Berwick [Drainage area] 242 [Sq. miles]
  • Do [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] Salmon Falls [Drainage area] 240 [Sq. miles]
  • Do [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] Great Falls [Drainage area] 231 [Sq. miles]
  • Do [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] East Rochester [Drainage area] 140 [Sq. miles]
  • Do [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] Milton Three ponds [Drainage area] 123 [Sq. miles]
  • Do [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] Milton mills [Drainage area] 34 [Sq. miles]
  • Little river [Stream; Tributary to] Salmon Falls river [Above what point] Mouth [Drainage area] 60 [Sq. miles]
  • Great Works river [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] do [Drainage area] 92 [Sq. miles]
  • Salmon Falls river [Stream; Tributary to] Piscataqua river [Above what point] Berwick [Drainage area] a123 [Sq. miles]
  • Do [Stream; Tributary to] do [Above what point] do [Drainage area] b119 [Sq. miles]

a In Maine; b in New Hampshire

Another interesting table follows – Table of powers utilized on the coast streams of New Hampshire – which is beyond my power to represent. You may find it in the source listed in the References below.

Compare with Milton Water Power in 1901


Swain, George F. (1885). Reports of the Water-Power of the United States, Part I. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=ob5NAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA67

The Year of the Squirrel

By Andrea Starr | September 18, 2018

You may have noticed the unusually large numbers of squirrels around us. Sadly, many are seen as large numbers of squirrel roadkill.

What on earth is happening? A number of newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, television segments have tried to answer that question.  In sum, the past two years of high acorn density have produced a rodent population boom, leading to a rise in traffic-related squirrel fatalities as the youngsters grow up and move out.

For more detail, The Exchange’s particularly informative and interesting radio broadcast from September 10 is worth a listen.  (In Appreciation of Squirrels (57:16), from NH Public Radio (NHPR)). It seeks to explain it all: acorns, squirrels, crows, foxes, coyotes, and even bears.


Concord Monitor. (2018, August 30). From fruit thieves to road kill, squirrels are everywhere this summer. Retrieved from https://www.concordmonitor.com/squirrels-acorns-road-kill-nh-19800800

Concord Monitor. (2018, September 7). No Avoiding the Influx of N.H. Squirrels. Retrieved from https://www.concordmonitor.com/squirrel-hunting-20010236

The Exchange (NHPR). (2018, September 10). In Appreciation of Squirrels & The Latest on Emerald Ash Borer. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/podcasts/381443862/the-exchange

Farmers’ Almanac. (2018, September 11). What’s Going On With All The Dead Squirrels? Retrieved from https://www.farmersalmanac.com/dead-squirrels-32602

Frohn, Jim (UNH Extension). (2017). Acorns, Acorns Everywhere. Retrieved from https://extension.unh.edu/blog/acorns-acorns-everywhere

Greene, Britta (NHPR). (2018, August 29). It’s a Banner Year for Rodent Roadkill. Here’s Why. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/podcasts/381443862/the-exchangehttp://www.nhpr.org/post/its-banner-year-rodent-roadkill-heres-why

Manchester Union-Leader. (2018). ‘Never seen this many’ dead gray squirrels says NH Fish and Game biologist. Retrieved from http://www.unionleader.com/animals/never-seen-this-many-dead-gray-squirrels-says-nh-fish-and-game-biologist-20180830

WMUR. (2018, August 30). Yes, there have been a lot of dead squirrels on NH roads. Retrieved from https://www.wmur.com/article/yes-there-have-been-a-lot-of-dead-squirrels-on-nh-roads/22863676

Boots Meets a Bobcat

By Muriel Bristol | May 24, 2018

Boots the cat met a bobcat in his backyard on Park Place in Milton last Tuesday (May 22).

Nancy West was in her kitchen in the early Tuesday afternoon when she heard what she thought was her cat Boots howling or hissing out back. She went to check, expecting some spat between Boots and a neighbor’s cat. She looked out the back door to see a bobcat at the foot of her back stairs. He saw her but made no attempt to move.

She turned for her camera and in so doing realized that Boots was hunkered on the porch rail nearest the house, She scrapped the camera idea and opened the door to get her cat. The bobcat turned and ran off as soon as she opened the door.

My Boots is okay but obviously nervous, his little heart was beating really fast when I scooped him up. He stayed very close to me for some time afterwards. Never had that occur in the 32 years I have lived here. The day before Boots had  acted nervous when he went out in the am, sniffing everything and looking out in all directions from the front porch. He came in shortly after and continued to act nervous for quite a while, staying very close to me. Wonder if the Bobcat had been there that day.

According to NH Fish & Wildlife Department, bobcats are the most common wildcat in North America. Males are larger than females but, on average, they measure 19-22″ in height at the shoulder, 28-49″ in length, and weigh between 15-35 pounds. They have a characteristic “yellowish-brown or reddish-brown (more gray in winter) color with indistinct dark spotting and streaks along its body. … Their upper legs have dark horizontal bands. The face has thin, black lines stretching onto broad cheek ruff and their ears are tufted.” Their name derives from their short “bobbed” tail, typically 4-7″ in length with 2 or 3 black bars and black tip above and white beneath.

Bobcats live in scrubby or broken forests (hardwood, coniferous or mixed), swamps, farmland, semi-deserts, scrubland, and rocky or bushy arid lands. Their home ranges vary in size depending on sex, season and prey distribution and abundance. Bobcats mark their territory with urine, feces, anal gland scent, and scrapes on physical markers, such as trees. Individuals have one natal den and other auxiliary dens for protection located throughout their home ranges. Dens can be found in caves, hollow logs, brush piles, rock ledges, or stumps (NH Fish & Wildlife, n.d.).

Bobcats are predators that usually follow consistent hunting paths to prey on snowshoe hares and cottontails. However, their diet also includes mice, squirrels, woodchucks, moles, shrews, raccoons, foxes, domestic cats, grouse and other birds, reptiles, porcupines and skunks. The bobcat is capable of fasting during periods of limited food availability, but will occasionally kill large prey, such as deer and livestock, during harsh conditions (NH Fish & Wildlife, n.d.).

 Ms. West reported that the bobcat she saw “looked be about 15-18 lbs., possibly as much as 20 lbs. It definitely had the bobbed tail, which I could see clearly when he turned to run off toward the woods out back. He was kind of spotted brownish and black. with some white on its chest.”

I have had several bear visits over the years.  Most recently one knocked down the metal pipe I have a bird feeder on. Several weeks earlier a bear was seen at my mailbox  by a neighbor early one morning before dawn . That day another neighbor told me a bear had been in their  yard. Earlier in the spring there were several sighting of bears close by  (Hare Road, Governors Road and Route 153 in Milton).  I have taken pictures of bears in my yard several times in years past. I sure wish I was able to get one of that Bobcat, but I had to rescue my Boots.

Boots had a narrow escape. He showed good tactical sense. He had his back to a wall and had positioned himself up on a rail midway between the back door (and the potential of rescue) and a leap to the ground with access to several different options of flight. He did not have to use any of his nine lives.


New Hampshire Fish and Wildlife Department. (n.d.). Bobcat – Lynx Rufus (Felis Rufus). Retrieved from https://wildlife.state.nh.us/wildlife/profiles/bobcat.html

Wikipedia. (2018, May 17). Bobcat. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobcat


Hot Water for Itchy Bug Bites

By Muriel Bristol | May 15, 2018

The itching caused by bug bites, as well as that caused by poison ivy and poison oak, may be relieved by the brief application of hot water.

Run the affected part under the hot water tap, or soak it in a bath of hot water, or apply a washcloth soaked in hot water. It should be as hot as you can stand it, but for just a few moments (about 5-10 seconds or so). (The water should be 120 to 130 degrees in temperature, which should not be damaging during such a brief exposure. (120 degrees is the mandated upper limit for modern water heaters)).

Obviously, when you can no longer stand it, withdraw the body part. DO NOT SCALD YOURSELF. This should not be used for open irritated wounds or more chronic skin diseases.

This should provide localized itch relief for 2-3 hours, at which point it could be repeated, if necessary.

This method is a folk remedy of long standing. It appeared in print in the 1961 textbook Dermatology: Diagnosis & Treatment. It is thought to work because itch and pain receptors are intertwined. Overloading them with hot water blocks the itch.

See also Black Flies Return


Graedon, Joe. (2009, August 9). Hot Water for Itchy Bug Bites. Retrieved from https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/08/01/hot-water-for-itchy-bug-bites/

Sulzberger, Dr. Marion B., et al. (1961). Dermatology: Diagnosis & Treatment. Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers

Wolf, Lauren K. (2011). Itching to Know More about Itch. Retrieved from https://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/89/8927sci1.html


Black Flies Return

By Muriel Bristol | May 11, 2018

The very last vestiges of packed snow situated in shady spots disappeared by Mayday. The Spring warmth that dissipated the snow also brought out the black flies. They are typically a nuisance between about Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I try to remember what my grandfather always said: we need the black flies, as they are food for the fish and birds.

According to a UNH Cooperative Extension fact sheet, New Hampshire is home to 40 species of black flies, of which only 4 or 5 are considered to be either annoying or “significant” human biters. Only the female bites and most species feed on birds or other animals.

Black flies breed in running water. Females lay their eggs on stream vegetation or the water surface. When the larvae hatch (as water temperatures reach the 40-to-50 degree range), they attach themselves to rocks, leaves, grass or other submerged objects. The larvae pupate underwater and emerging adults rise to the surface to fly in Spring or early Summer. They mate near their hatching site and female seeks a blood meal (you) before laying eggs to begin the cycle again.

Only two species of black flies in New Hampshire consistently and abundantly bite humans. These are Prosimulium mixtum and Simulium venustum. Simulium venustum, the so-called “white-stockinged” black fly emerges in early to mid-May in southern New Hampshire and remains a pest until the end of May. In the north, it emerges in late May to early June and can remain abundant until the end of June in some areas and even into July in higher mountain localities (UNH/CE, 2009).

Light clothing colors such as orange, yellow and light blue are less attractive to black flies than dark green, brown and red. They are drawn also to perfumes and aftershaves.

The same remedies used for mosquitoes work also on black flies, although less effectively. The Centers for Disease Control recommend DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus for use in repelling biting anthropods, including black flies.

Years ago, Ole Time Woodsman Fly Dope was considered quite an effective repellent (although it had a very strong smell) and it was widely available in sporting goods stores. Johnson’s Baby Oil was said to be effective also.

Black flies are active only during the day. They do not bite at night. Depending on weather, black flies tend to be more active at certain times of day. Activity peaks tend to occur around 9:00 to 11:00 AM and again from 4:00 to 7:00 in the late afternoon and early evening, or until the sun falls below the horizon. They tend to be most active on humid, cloudy days and just before storms. If possible, avoid activity during times when black flies are most active. Early morning, midday and late evenings are the best times to work outside (UNH/CE, 2009).

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has been quoted as saying that

Generally black fly bites cause some itching and minor swelling from the first few bites of the season, following which an immunity develops, with subsequent reduced reactions.  Nonetheless, even individuals who have lived all their lives in black fly country and are exposed every season, can have greater effects if they get an unusually high number of bites on their first exposure of the season, or have some significant change in their physical condition or medical status.

Good luck.

See also Hot Water for Itchy Bug Bites


Ole Time Woodsman. (n.d.). [Home Page] Retrieved from https://oletimewoodsman.com/

University of Maine Cooperative Extension. (2012). Insect Repellents [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from https://extension.umaine.edu/ipm/ipddl/publications/5108e/

University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. (2009, July 1). Black Flies [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from https://extension.unh.edu/resource/black-flies-fact-sheet

Walmart. (2018). Coleman Mosquito Head Net. Retrieved from https://www.walmart.com/ip/Coleman-Mosquito-Head-Net/13848609


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