A Kettle of One – about the project

On September 6th, 2016, I leave NH by bicycle to travel south following the Broad-winged Hawk migration from New Hampshire to South America. All going well, I expect to cross five time zones, 40 degrees of latitude, and 5,000 miles in pursuit of the birds.

Biologists at the Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory in southern New Hampshire record several thousand migrant Broad-winged Hawks during a few days in mid-September (banner photo taken above my Hancock yard, September 18, 2011). My exact route will be determined by a combination of retro and cutting edge technology – I will follow several individual hawks tagged by Hawk Mountain with GPS transmitters along what is essentially a known route that traces the Appalachian Mountain Range to the Gulf Coast. I will continue west and south through Central America, ending in Columbia sometime in the spring of 2017.

Big hawk day at Kekoldi, Costa Rica, October 12 2015

The project is the research phase of a book that will narrate the birds’ epic journey from a perspective best encapsulated by the old adage that “you never truly know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes”. The challenges that we will both face are simultaneously different and similar; we will both have to endure physiological stress and inhospitable weather; we will both have to find food and shelter along the way; we will both have to navigate borders, new territories, and new languages. Apart from my glaring inability to fly, the single major difference is life expectancy. There is a 50% chance that the hawk will have perished by the time I return to New Hampshire in 2017 (I am estimating my chances of returning at 100%).

Otherwise, theirs is an easy story to tell — the migration is one of the great natural wonders of the world. By the time New Hampshire’s hawks reach Central America, they will have joined with others in a gathering wave of birds moving south along the Appalachian Flyway, which will merge with flyways coming from the mid-continent and the west. It is not uncommon for single day counts to reach into the hundreds of thousands at several pinch points in Central America, where birds already congested by the Isthmus are funneled between the coast and adjacent uplands. Despite this, hawk migration remains little known outside of the small brethren of hawkwatchers. It is my wish that this project will provide an increased focus on the wonder that is bird migration.

I welcome you to join me in any one of the following ways:

  • Subscribe to the website for updates.
  • Spread the word by email, Facebook, or social media of your choice.
  • Consider joining me by bicycle for a part of the route.
  • Providing me refuge for a night.
  • Support the project with a financial contribution at Kettle of One

Feel free to email me at eric.masterson@myfairpoint.net.



19 Responses to “A Kettle of One – about the project”

  1. Ted Leach January 2, 2016 at 1:42 am #

    I have 1001 questions, but there is ample time to ask.
    I followed a turkey once to the end of our driveway!
    This will be a truly grand adventure Eric!

  2. JoAnne Russo January 2, 2016 at 7:31 pm #

    that is so cool Eric!!! Can’t wait to follow your adventure!

    • Eric Masterson January 3, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

      Thanks JoAnne. Still time for one last spring on the CT.

  3. Charlee Breen January 3, 2016 at 10:25 am #

    Wishing you all the best on this most epic journey, Eric!! Ride easy, study deeply, travel safely. Looking forward to hearing and reading all about your experience.

    • Eric Masterson January 3, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

      Thanks Charlee. Good advice.

  4. Edward January 3, 2016 at 1:49 pm #

    This will be an amazing adventure. I can’t wait. And of course if you are in need of anything while in Louisiana, or anywhere on the Third Coast. I would be honored to help. Perhaps Tricia can do a show down here, while your trekking thru.

  5. Brian Mattor March 20, 2016 at 11:05 am #

    This is one of the coolest adventures I have heard about in a while. What option are you going to take to deal with the Darien Gap? (The no road jungle between Panama and Colombia). I read up on several good options just wondering witch you are doing.

    • Eric Masterson April 4, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

      Thanks Brian. Sorry for the delayed response. I am getting hammered by spam. Anyway, I will have to take a boat around the Darien. There is still no way through (some folks have told me one reason for this is to control the spread of foot and mouth). What have you come across re. options. Best,

    • cindy athans September 8, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

      Dear Eric
      Our Science Class in Jaffrey will be wishing you safe travels and following your route. We are studying hawks and hawk migration. We have a field trip planned to Miller Mtn. for the hawk watch in a couple of weeks.

      • Eric Masterson September 14, 2016 at 9:52 pm #

        Great to hear. I am at Hawk Mountain PA on the southern end of the Kittattiny Ridge now. About 100 Broad-winged Hawks today, and assorted other species. This is where the birds were fitted with transmitters – I visited several nest sites today where the birds were briefly trapped and then released. Keep in touch!!!

  6. Helga August 15, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    Hi Eric,
    Your big Sis here. Will be following the adventure from this side of the Atlantic.
    I’m tickled at the thoughts of you in the gym 😄.
    Talk to you before you go

    • Eric Masterson September 15, 2016 at 12:34 am #

      Sorry to miss chatting – hectic last week. How are you all doing??

  7. Ellen Dokton September 6, 2016 at 10:09 pm #

    I just heard you today on Word of Mouth. I will follow your adventure and hope your journey is full of vision.

    • Eric Masterson September 14, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

      Thanks Ellen. At Hawk Mountain through the weekend. All is well!

  8. Ron Cheney September 15, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

    Eric, Terrific uplift to see you pedal by Fiddleheads at the start. Now looking for updates, blow by blow, play by play account of your adventure.
    Looking for the vicarious thrill of being along the way with you.
    Where best to find that? Is a trip journal up yet? Where? Do you intend to do something like a daily or every other day update?
    Don’t want to add unnecessary burden to your days but don’t want to miss out on getting as much of this as possible.
    All the best, Ron

    • Eric Masterson September 15, 2016 at 5:51 pm #

      Hi Ron – I was without computer until now – I thought I could do it on iphone but no. So regular updates from today at this site. Keep the comments coming!

  9. Ron Cheney September 16, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

    Thanks, Eric
    Look forward to following your journey.
    All the best from Judy and me,

  10. David Robins September 26, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    Enjoying your hawk-wing pilgrimage.

  11. Kim Henning January 10, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

    Hope all is going well on your journey! I learned of it via your beloved wife Tricia; she is a joy! I live outside of Reading, PA, about 40 minutes south of Hawk Mountain. I think your time there has passed, but should you need lodging (or anything else) when you are in this area, please let me know. Travel safe!

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