This past Saturday I spent all day in a HMANA Board meeting that was held at Squam Lakes Science Center, near Holderness, N.H. HMANA’s Chair is also the executive director of the science center. The highlight of the day was not the Board meeting (which was okay as such things go) but the tour afterwards.
The science center has a variety of exhibits, including hiking trails and boat tours of the lake in the summer. They also have some animals that are native to N.H. in very high quality exhibits. The center is closed to the public now until spring. Some of the animals, like the bears, were already hibernating, but some are still in their areas. All are quite at ease with people around and were out in the open and easily seen.
The bobcat enclosure had two bobcats. We also saw sibling cougars, a fisher, a pair of red fox, bald eagles and red-tailed hawk.
This great horned owl was a lot of fun. This bird is now 39 years old, unreleasable as it is blind in one eye. Although the second photo isn’t very good—it was getting dark in N.H. around 3:30 p.m.—I couldn’t resist. Who would expect to find a great horned owl sitting on the sign that bears its name? Obviously, this bird didn’t want anyone to miss just who it was. Iain told us that the bird was meaner than any of the other animals and over the years was responsible for more staff injuries than any of the large mammals with fiercer reputations. The bird sat there and hooted at us while we stood just a few feet away on the other side of the glass.
Although we’d hoped to hang around Plymouth for a few hours on Sunday morning and search out the nearby pine grosbeaks, instead we left at 6 a.m. in order to beat the storm that swept across the east coast on Sunday. We did pretty well with that. New Jersey had a some sleet and freezing rain, but while we were on the road it was only bad for a mile or two. Snow nipped our heels the entire trip south but the roads were mostly good. Trip time from Plymouth N.H. to Hawk Mountain Pa. was just under 8 hours, with stops only for gas and drive-through food. Of course, having four drivers helps a lot.
Back at Roundtop winter is settling in (even those many of those oaks still have dead leaves on them). I had to clear an inch of snow off my car before I left Hawk Mountain to head home on Sunday. The forecast is calling for a few inches of snow today. Roundtop is busy making snow, and I expect they will be open this weekend, though I haven’t gotten the official word on that yet.
Tomorrow, a new report from Roundtop Mountain! It was a fun trip, if brief, but it’s good to be back on my mountain with all the critters.