After enjoying a boat tour of Jamaica Bay in New York City, my husband and I were excited to visit the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Contact Center, which is part of Gateway National Recreation Area. It is located in Broad Channel, Queens, and is the only wildlife refuge in the national park system.
( all photos can be enlarged by clicking on them once and then again when they open on a new page)
The entire Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is one of the most important urban wildlife refuges in the United States. Encompassing 9,155 acres, it is comprised of diverse habitats, including salt marsh, upland field and woods, several fresh and brackish water ponds and an open expanse of bay and islands. They are all located within the limits of New York City. The Wildlife Refuge is renowned as a prime birding spot where thousands of water, land and shorebirds stop during migration. More than 325 species have been recorded here during the last 25 years.
On the day we visited the visitors center there was a scheduled tour given by Park Ranger Dandelion (her real first name) to view Osprey that were nesting in the refuge. Ranger Dandelion was showing us the bird log box in this photo where visitors can record the species of birds they observed on their visit.
As you can see by the heavy grey skies hanging over the refuge trail, rain was threatening, but we were lucky and it never appeared.
"One of Jamaica Bay's biggest success stories is that of the osprey. On the verge of extinction in the 1970s due to DDT pollution, the osprey population has been increasing thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service and other agencies that work in the bay. Visitors can often spot these birds at their nests on one of the specially built platforms in the refuge." source
The ranger told us the Osprey chicks were close to "fledging," which means learning how to fly and leave the nest.
The Osprey is a large raptor, reaching 60 centimetres (24 in) in length, and its diet consists almost exclusively of fish.
As we were viewing the Osprey an Egret flew over our heads!
One of my favorite photos of our visit was this shot of the bucolic pond with the towers of Manhattan about 12 miles away in the background. There were many Canadian Geese and other shore birds in view.
According to this web site "the refuge is also home to an impressive array of native reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, over 60 species of butterflies and one of the largest populations of horseshoe crabs in the northeast." The ranger told us that the orange flags mark the location of the eggs of the terrapin turtle. There was some concern because raccoons were digging them up and eating them and the rangers were trying different methods to protect the eggs. If you enlarge the photo you can see some of the egg nests were protected by a wire mesh cage.
Egrets in a marsh alongside the trail. Enlarge this photo to view their long spindly legs.
Can you see the Egret flying by in this distant Manhattan skyline photo?
We saw many wildflowers, wild berries and milkweed along the trail and some of this, "Leaves of three - let it be."
Poison Ivy! So please remember the Jamaica Bay Wildlife refuge is truly a wild environment in New York City!
I'm adding this post to "Outdoor Wednesday" on Susan's blog A Southern Daydreamer. Please visit Susan today to see her outdoor post and links to many blogs that are participating today.