During the fall migration season, NH Audubon welcomes visitors to raptor observatories at Carter Hill Orchard in Concord and Pack Monadnock at Miller State Park in Peterborough. As thousands of raptors pass overhead, NH Audubon staff tally birds as part of an international effort to monitor raptor population trends in the Americas. Thousands of visitors – including hundreds of students from across the region – come to the observatories to learn about raptor identification, and to experience the spectacle of raptor migration.
Carter Hill Raptor Observatory
The Carter Hill Raptor Observatory, founded in 2008, is located at the Carter Hill Orchard in Concord, NH (www.carterhillapples.com). It is staffed with NH Audubon naturalists or volunteers from September 1 through October 31, weather dependent.
Carter Hill Orchard is located at 73 Carter Hill Road in Concord, NH. From most locations, take Route 93 North to Exit 15W to merge onto Route 202 W towards Route 3N/Main Street. Continue on Route 3 North (becomes N. State Street) until a left turn at Hutchins Street. Continue straight onto Lake View Drive until its junction with Carter Hill Road. Make a right turn on this road and the orchard will be on your left shortly.
Once at the Orchard, park in the main parking area and look for the wooden observation deck at the far end of the parking lot, where the Observatory is located. Carter Hill Orchard is open 9-6 daily in September and October, and there is no cost of admission.
Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory
The Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory, founded in 2005, is located near the summit of Pack Monadnock in Miller State Park in Peterborough, NH. It is staffed with NH Audubon naturalists or volunteers from September 1 through October 31 from 9am to 5pm – weather dependent. Over 10,000 raptors have been counted in a single season here.
For full report from Pack Monadnock 2010 season, please click here.
For full report from Pack Mondnock 2011 season, please click here.
From Manchester, Nashua, and the Seacoast (and other points east) take Route 101 West (from Manchester or Nashua) past Milford towards Peterborough. Keep an eye out for Temple Mountain. Miller State Park comes up quickly on the right just beyond this on the right. Once there, you can take the access road to the summit by car or hike one of the two trails (~1.5 miles each) from the main parking lot.
From Keene, Peterborough, and other points west, take Route 101 East past Peterborough. Miller State Park is to the left near the top of the steep rise. If you’ve reached Temple Mountain you’ve gone too far. Once at the park, you can take the access road to the summit by car or hike one of the two trails (~1.5 miles each) from the main parking lot.
From Concord and other points north, take Route 202 South towards Peterborough to the junction with Route 101. Follow directions from Peterborough above.
Once at the summit parking lot, look for the sign for the Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory. It is an easy walk, 0.2 mile down a gravel trail to the north overlook and observatory.
The summit and base of the Mountain has primitive restrooms, water, and shelter.
Park is open for day use only. Fees as of 2010: Adults: $4.00; Children ages 6-11: $2.00 Children ages 5 & under, NH residents age 65 & over: FREE
What Are Migratory Raptors?
The group of birds known as diurnal raptors are birds of prey that are sometimes referred to simply as “hawks.” They include eagles, falcons, ospreys, vultures, kites and harriers as well as hawks. They range in size from the diminutive American kestrel (not much bigger than a robin) to the massive bald eagle with a wingspan of more than six and a half feet. We regularly observe and count 14 species at NH Audubon’s Raptor Observatories.
Why Study Raptors?
Raptors are particularly sensitive indicators of environmental health and change because they inhabit most ecosystem types, occupy large home ranges, feed at the top of the food pyramid, and are highly sensitive to chemical contamination and other forms of human-caused disturbance. Spring and fall are the ideal times to collect data on raptors because they congregate during migration along coastlines, prominent mountain ridges and river valleys making it easy to tally them. Conducting standardized long-term counts of migrating raptors can help us learn about their migration patterns, behaviors and populations.
Follow Our Season Counts on HawkCount!
Daily count reports with highlights are posted online at the end of each day throughout the fall at www.hawkcount.org, an online database managed by the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA). Once you have reached the site, select “Day Summaries” or “Month Summaries” and select the site you wish. Here you may read about season totals, record counts and average timing per species. You can also find additional information and photos by clicking on “Site Profiles. Navigating to different sites can also be done by clicking on “Find a Hawkwatch” where you may choose sites by state.
To volunteer or support the raptor observatories in either Concord or Peterborough, contact Phil Brown, Director of Land Management, at (603) 224-9909×334 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are planning to bring a school group to Pack Monadnock, please notify both NH Audubon and Miller State Park (603-924-3672) in advance.