Annual hawk watch set for Sept. 21 in New Durham

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Birders gather to watch for hawks during a recent outing at Birch Ridge. (Courtesy photo)

Birdwatchers of all experience levels are invited to join Moose Mountains Regional Greenways for a Hawk Watch at Birch Ridge Community Forest in New Durham on Sept, 21, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Although the event requires no walking and lawn chairs are appropriate, there is the option for participants to explore some trails around the Birch Ridge area. An update will be provided at the outset about the Birch Ridge Community Forest vision, goals and planning process.

The Hawk Watch site consists of a clearing on the shoulder of Birch Ridge that has excellent visibility for observing migrating raptors heading south for the winter. At over 1,000' elevation and overlooking Merrymeeting Lake, Birch Ridge has scenic views of nearby surrounding hills and of farther mountains such as Chocorua in the southern White Mountains.

MMRG staff member Virginia Long is an experienced birder and the trip leader for this outing. "We had a great time at our Hawk Watch on Birch Ridge last year," she said. "We saw half a dozen species of raptors, including a couple small kettles (groups) of broad-winged hawks, which are fun to watch as they circle high in the sky on rising thermals of warm air to gain altitude before flying south. I'll have handouts of raptor silhouettes to help in identification. It's always helpful to have many eyes on the sky so I hope we'll get a good turnout again this year!"

Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars, telescopes (optional), sturdy walking shoes (if planning to explore the trails), a portable chair, and a snack or picnic lunch. The event is free and all are welcome but preregistration is required. For directions and to register, call MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at (603) 978-7125 or email Participants are asked to leave pets at home.

The Birch Ridge Community Forest was recently conserved in perpetuity by the Partnership for Birch Ridge, which is composed of three partner organizations: Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG,, Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire (SELT, and Merrymeeting Lake Association (MMLA, As a community forest, BRCF will be managed to promote conservation, community, and economic development through community participation in the management of the land.

Virginia Long is the public relations coordinator at MMRG.

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