Bed, Breakfast, and Birds

Enjoying nature and relaxing at the Mount Washington B&B

A stay at the Mount Washington Bed and Breakfast, nestled the natural beauty of New Hampshire’s North Country, isn’t just a relaxing getaway, it’s also a chance to experience nature up close, perhaps adding a few of the area’s birds to your list of discoveries. The B&B sits just north of the protected White Mountains National Forest with its unique alpine habitat and a stone’s throw away from the Androscoggin River, making it a great home base for any birder.

The 1853 farmhouse has been expanded over the years and spent time as a wayside inn. Since 1999, the Mayer family has run the B&B, making it a comfortable and welcoming place to be pampered. Early birders might head out before breakfast to look for eagles and osprey flying low over the Androscoggin cruising for an unwary fish. The osprey, sometimes called seahawks, are larger than their hawk cousins, with wings that stretch as much as six feet. They fly with steady wingbeats, sometimes cruising with bowed wings, then dive with claws outstretched.

The distinctive Bald eagles flap slowly, low over the treetops. It’s less common to catch them with fish in their talons, but for most people just the sight of the US National symbol with its wings outstretched as much as seven and a half feet is enough to declare the sight the high point of the trip.

Loons, ducks, and geese along with the occasional errant shore birds make the early morning move along quickly.

Then, with a bit of luck, a good zoom lens, and a fast shutter on their cameras, returning to the B&B to share pictures over a delicious breakfast featuring one of the B&B’s specialties, like a thick almond-encrusted Amaretto French toast or a baked apple with homemade maple granola.

During breakfast, the feeders right outside the B&B windows might bring bickering hummingbirds and a variety of seed-eating meadow birds. Even without a rare spotting, the antics of chickadees and the excited flutter of colorful finches add an extra smile to a tasty breakfast.

For the afternoon, an expedition to the slopes of Mount Washington gives a chance for birders to add an extremely rare bird to their lists — the Bicknell’s thrush nests above the 3000 foot level of Mount Washington, one of the few locations with the right combination of cold temperatures, thin vegetation, and plenty of moisture aligning with an easy access for humans. This small brown and grey bird breeds only in the Northeast before they migrate to the Caribbean for the winter. Guided tours travel up the Mount Washington Auto Road in early June, providing one of the easiest ways to add a new star to the bird book.

Dining in Gorham offer lots of choices. Of course nothing beats a well-planned and well-provisioned picnic as part of a bird-spotting hike, but come dinnertime, visitors to the area enjoy a broad selection of restaurants. The most widely recommended restaurant is SAaLT, with a comfortable pub atmosphere and an international cuisine that focuses on locally-sourced ingredients.

After dinner, it’s time for relaxing, perhaps in the Mount Washington B&B’s common areas, maybe playing a board game, or admiring the decorative quilts on the walls made by Mary Ann Mayer. Or even better, discussing your bird spottings with Mary Ann, an avid birder herself. She may suggest places to check out and stories of interesting bird sightings passed along through the bird spotter’s rumor mill.

Then, bedtime in one of the B&B’s seven guest rooms, each named after a local bird. Some of the rooms overlook the pond, others offer views of Mount Washington, but all are comfortable and homey.

Then, after a quiet night and well rested, it’s time for yet another great breakfast and another day of being out in nature.

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You can find the Mt.Washington Bed & Breakfast at 421 State Route 2 Shelburne, NH 03581. Call them at 877-466-2399 or 603-466-2669 or find them online at www.mtwashingtonbb.com

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