Bird Observer - The New England Birding Journal

Bird Observer

The Birding Journal for New England

October 2018

Vol. 46, No. 5

Fall Birding the Keene, New Hampshire, Area

Steven Lamonde

Introduction

Although Cheshire County is the second most birded county in New Hampshire according to eBird, it is often overshadowed by Rockingham County, which contains all 18 miles of coastline found in the state and all the coastal and pelagic species that come with it. However, Cheshire County's landscape of rolling hills, varied habitats, and scattered freshwater resources offer an entirely different birding vibe. And, for most of fall migration, birders can enjoy the exquisite fall foliage that adorns the region's forested hillsides.

Within Cheshire County birders regularly flock to viewpoints along the Connecticut River during both migration seasons to witness large numbers of waterfowl taking advantage of the natural travel corridor and large agricultural fields in close proximity to the river. Others prefer to hike up Pitcher Mountain or Pack Monadnock on fair-weather days for a good day of hawkwatching. Yet, the city of Keene and the surrounding central area of Cheshire County offer numerous birding locations, many of which are tucked in among tracts of urban and suburban development. As a result, these spots act as enticing stopover patches for migrating songbirds in both spring and fall.

The greater Keene area is accessible on state highways from nine directions, making it a transportation hub for southwestern New Hampshire. Routes 10 and 12 connect Keene to northern Massachusetts, Routes 9 and 12 accommodate travel to and from Vermont, Routes 10 and 12A connect with points due north, and Routes 9 and 101 connect traffic from Concord and eastern New Hampshire. Once in Keene, the state highways quickly move cars through and around the city. West Street, Main Street, Winchester Street, and many of the other main roads through downtown are packed with local shops, restaurants, and attractions.

Fall birding in Keene starts warm, with August days reaching an average high of 81.5 °F and cooling to an average high of 48.6 °F in November. Early morning temperatures can be highly variable but average 55.9 °F in August and 29.5 °F in November.

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