Photos of previous hawk watches and of the Birch Ridge hawk watch site by Virginia Long.

On behalf of the newly formed Partnership for Birch Ridge, MMRG is conducting a Hawk Watch and Guided Hike at the future 2,000+ acre proposed Birch Ridge Community Forest in New Durham.  This event, which is open to the public, is scheduled for Saturday September 22, 2018.  It is the first of many outings that the Partnership will provide in the coming months as a way to introduce the public to the project.  The Partnership for Birch Ridge Community Forest includes Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG), Southeast Land Trust (SELT) and Merrymeeting Lake Association (MMLA). Click here to learn more about Birch Ridge Community Forest and Partnership.

The Hawk Watch site on the shoulder of Birch Ridge takes advantage of past and recent timber harvests that unintentionally opened up clearings that provide excellent visibility in westerly and northerly directions, from which migrating raptors can best be observed. At over 1,000’ elevation, the site has scenic views of surrounding hills, such as Mt. Eleanor and Rattlesnake Mtn., both of which fall within the Birch Ridge Community Forest parcel, and across Merrymeeting Lake to, Mt. Bet, Mt. Molly and Caverly Mtn.

MMRG staff member and experienced birder, Virginia Long looks forward to this event: “It’s fun to try out a new hawk watching location, especially since we may be the first to try it there. And it’s always great to have many sets of eyes on the sky! Our outing is an informal occasion for birders of all levels. I’ll have handouts of raptor silhouettes to help in identification. I hope we’ll see a ‘kettle’ of broad-winged hawks, where they circle higher and higher in the sky, gaining altitude before heading south, as well as several other raptor species in migration.”

The Hawk Watch event will also include an optional short guided walk onto the land led by MMRG Executive Director Patti Connaughton-Burns where, she says, “Participants will get to see firsthand the regeneration of forest after the timber cut, some diverse wildlife habitats, the recreational opportunities afforded on the property, and the importance of the land to the Merrymeeting Lake watershed and surrounding region.” Information will be provided at the outset about the Birch Ridge Community Forest partnership and project.

The Hawk Watch and Guided Walk will take place from 11 am to 2 pm. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars, telescopes (optional), sturdy walking shoes, a portable chair, and a snack or picnic lunch. In case of rain, the event will be held on Sunday, September 23, from 1 to 4 pm.  All are welcome but pre-registration is required. For directions and to register, call MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at (603) 978-7125 or email No pets, please. There is no charge, but we encourage a $5.00 donation per household that will be fully invested in the Birch Ridge Conservation Fund so that these special events can be continued.

The Partnership for Birch Ridge Community Forest envisions Birch Ridge as a community forest, managed to promote conservation, community, and economic development through community participation in the management of the land.  A mushroom walk in the Merrymeeting Lake watershed, a foliage hike and other field trips will be held this coming fall and winter. In addition, a Community Visioning Session is scheduled for 6:00 PM on Thursday, November 1 at New Durham School to get public input on the best uses of the land, with a concurrent children’s program so young parents can attend.

The Partnership is currently raising funds to complete the purchase of the property and steward it forever. Donations to save and steward Birch Ridge Community Forest may be made to any of the three partner organizations: Moose Mountains Regional Greenways online at or by mail to MMRG, PO Box 191, Union, NH 03887; Southeast Land Trust online at or by mail to SELT, PO Box 675, Exeter, NH 03833; Merrymeeting Lake Association online at or by mail to MMLA, PO Box 468, New Durham, NH 03855.