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Nature enthusiasts observe annual hawk migration

Leslie Dion greeted nature enthusiasts like Rich and Kathy Murdy, who dropped by the Slim Baker Lodge in Bristol after climbing Little Roundtop Mountain to enjoy the annual fall hawk migration from Inspiration Point last Saturday. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
September 23, 2021
BRISTOL Ė Last Saturday, nature enthusiasts gathered at Little Roundtop Mountain's Inspiration Point, located on land maintained by the Slim Baker Foundation in Bristol, to observe the annual hawk migration.

According to New Hampshire Fish and Game, thousands of hawks can be spotted between the months of September and October as they gather for their annual fall migration and Little Roundtop Mountain is a prime viewing area.

While places such as Pack Monadock at Miller State park in Peterborough or Carter Hill in Concord are popular locations to observe the massive migration each year, Inspiration Point is also known as one of the oldest and equally spectacular places to watch this event take place.

Inspiration Point is accessible by foot on a somewhat steep yet short hike up Little Roundtop Mt. from the Slim Baker Lodge. Once people reach the summit, they step out of the tree line to sweeping views of Bristol and the Pemigewasset River valley, and last Saturday the public was invited to come take part in the spectacle of the hawk migration.

Leslie Dion, Executive Director of Tapply-Thompson Community Center, is also a member of the Slim Baker Foundation's board of directors and was stationed at the lodge on Saturday where information on hawks was available to visitors.

She said that because the hawks were soaring high that day, it was hard to determine how many had been spotted, but it was a wonderful sight to behold for those who made the trek up to Inspiration Point.

"We've had a couple dozen people stop here at the lodge but most just hiked up today to look for the hawks," she said.

Two of those who did stop at the lodge were part-time local residents Kathy and Rich Murdy of Bridgewater and Newtown, Connecticut. The couple said while they have been spent many years in the area, from renting cottages in the mid-1970's to buying property on Whittemore Point in 1980, they had never been up to the hawk watch. While up on Inspiration Point they reported to have seem a "couple of hundred" hawks soaring high above them as the birds gathered to make their way south for the winter.

"We've been wanting to come here for a long time. There was one big flock that came by while we were up there, then lots of smaller flocks or hawks that were still flying on their own. It was amazing to see," he reported when they came back to the lodge.

In addition to the experience of seeing so many hawks gathered together, people like the Murdy's who stopped at the lodge were also to take home a guide to identifying birds of prey in the Northeast as well as coloring sheets for children, and trail maps for the 135-acre tract of land on and around Little Roundtop Mountain.

New Hampshire wildlife experts say there are 15 species of birds of prey that can be seen in the state. While some are year-round residents, others are here seasonally or may be spotted as they simply pass through the region during times of migration in the spring and fall. Among the hawks typically seen in New Hampshire are the Northern Goshawk, Cooper's Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, and Broad-winged Hawk. Falcons like the Peregrine Falcon and American Kestrel can also be spotted soaring through fields and woodlands in the spring and summer months. These majestic winged hunters can range in size from nine to 33-inches long with 20- to 72-inch wingspans, depending on the species and maturation of each.

The Slim Baker Area was established in 1953 as a memorial to Edward "Slim" Baker, a local conservation officer who envisioned an outdoor education area for people of all ages. It offers a variety of resources for the public, including year-round hiking, snowshoeing and camping opportunities. For more information on the Slim Baker Foundation, visit them online at slimbaker.org.

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