Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, Queens, NY

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.

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Anonymous said...

I love the osprey story, Pat! Very inspiring.

Love you!


Ebie said...

Hi Pat, I always enjoy a visit to any wildlife area. I am getting to know different species of birds.

I love the shot where you can see the Manhattan skyline.

A few weeks ago, a group of us went for a hike in the park in the heart of Beverly Hills. And it was just amazing! I did not believe it until I was on it!

Annesphamily said...

Pat you really post interesting things. I really enjoyed this tour of your wildlife refuge. Thank you. You are a true New Yorker. Showing us the sights! Anne

Fifi Flowers said...

LOVE your outdoor adventure... FAB photos!!!

Bella said...

Hi Pat, What a wonderful place to visit! Birds and flowers.. make for a perfect day! The NY skyline in the background makes for a wonderful picture... worth a thousand words:-)

Gina said...

great post pat..so great to hear about a refuge thriving..and so close to such a big city!..love your photos too Gx

Tracy said...

Must say I didn't know about this place before, Pat! Learn something new every day coming here! What a fantastic place... love the osprey story... and that egret against the skyline photos...*sigh*... Thanks so much for your lovely comment at my place. It's great to be back here catching up with you after being away a few days MIA. ;o) Happy Days ((HUGS))

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Looks like you had a nice day-enjoy!

Sheila said...

Thanks Pat. I so enjoy the posts you make taking us into the corners of your New York environment. Jamaica Bay is certainly a very significant wildlife area an it was interesting to see the success they've had with the osprey.

Mister Meatball said...

This used to be called The Bird Sanctuary (long time ago) and I spent many hours there.

Once, out of nowhere, a helicopter made an emergency landing right where my friend Louie and I were walking. Terrifying. And the rush of air is hard to explain.

Anyways, passengers were execs of the old Alexander's Dept store, and were being shuttled from L.I. store to 59th St. Louie had his father's Caddy and so we drove them to the city ourselves. For $50. Which they had to scrounge together amongst four guys because, evidently, executives don't carry much cash.

Great memory.

Vee said...

You've got more wildlife in NYC than we have here or so it seems. But! Do you have any turkey vultures?

What a beautiful spot for you to enjoy. I vaguely remember reading a novel that featured this location. Hmmmm...

Old Kitty said...

I love Ranger Dandelion!! What a brilliant name!! :-)

Jamaica Bay is such a treasure really and truly! I'm just so glad it exists to help the amazing wildlife of NYC!

And look what it's done to help the poor Osprey - an amazing awesome raptor!! And not just the Osprey - all the other birds and wildlife that have a refuge to protect them!

There are a load of turtle nests aren't there? All together too - only in NYC - a sprawling metropolitan city - and just there are these exotic turtle eggs! Wow.

Speaking of egrets, there are now quite a growing population of lesser white egrets here - they are stunning birds - pristine white and quite a shock to see them really! But I have spotted a few on my train commute to work. I think the gorgeous ones here are bigger though - and lovely to see! Especially the one flying across that wonderful manhattan skyline!

I've not come across that expresion: leaves of three let it be!! but it's so true about poison ivy!! They don't look poisonous do they? Very glossy leaves though and best left alone.

Glad the rain held off for you! Thanks for such a wonderful trip around the nature reserve and for introducing Ranger Dandelion!

Take care

diane said...

How wonderful to have such a place and all that wildlife so close to a huge city. Good town planners.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

I learned a few things here again today, Pat...about ospreys and poison ivy. Hopefully I can now identify both in the future.

Beautiful pic's!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Pat, Isn't it wonderful to see a wildlife area so close toe NYC???? I'm so glad you got to see the nesting Ospreys... Aren't they gorgeous?

Glad you didn't have any rain --and I will let you take me there (along with the boat ride) when i come to see you ---sometime, but who knows when!!!!! ha ha


Lily Hydrangea said...

This looks like an amazing place! I love your skyline shot - & the name "Dandelion", original & beautiful.

Diann said...

What beautiful photos Pat! It looks like it was an amazing trip. Loved learning about the osprey!

ButterYum said...

Cool - I was born in Queens and never heard of the place. Thanks so much for sharing!!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Pat, this was really fun seeing birds that I typically think of as Floridians in NYC!!! And I loved seeing the egret flying against the NYC skyline. How neat! I love ospreys, too.

Thanks for the tour!


Sheila :-)


My daughter lives on a small lake in Florida and has every bird imaginable come to visit. It's wonderful to recognize how we must all stop being so "disposable" oriented. Immediately.

Anonymous said...

Pat, It's so hard to believe that fabulous refuge is so near NYC!! In your photo of the skyline in the background (loved it!!) it is also hard for me to believe that those buildings are TWELVE miles away...they look so close!

So enjoyed reading about the Osprey! Thank goodness they were saved!! We have Egrets and TONS of Canada Geese around here....too many in some areas. However, I still love to see them...especially since they don't land on my yard! :) We have a golf course nearby with a pond, and I swear, our house is in the "flight plan" for tons of geese and ducks on their way to the pond! I really do love to hear and see them fly over.

It's going to be a real hot one in KC today....already over 90. We do have a little rain predicted for Th and Fri....hope it happens!

Stay cool...I loved this post!!

L, Dana

Oliag said...

Love the egret photo with the skyline behind it! Such contrast!
There is an osprey nest next to the boatyard that we keep our sailboat in...it has been fun to watch it...4 new hatchlings this year...a record!...I need to get a telephoto lens so I can capture them as well as you have:)

Claudia said...

This is so inspiring. I remember (back in the day - the 60's when I was indeed a child) that the Bay was horribly polluted. We could smell it on warm,summer eves. To see the people reclaim it and bring back birds, plants and turtles to the area is a testimony what good people can do. Kudos to the Wildlife Refuge Center!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Since the 70's the National Parks services has been working to stop pollution in the bay and the end of use of DDT has also helped. It is a wonderful thing but work continues all the time to keep improving the water quality and lessen urban impact.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

This looks like you could be someplace in Florida. I swear you should be a tour guide or travel book writer. another great post.

Light and Voices said...

I was not aware that NYC had such a large wildlife refuge. Over 9,000 acres now that is planning ahead. Wonderful blog!
Joyce M

Jeanne said...

Wow, Pat, this place is amazing. Love the history and the wildlife is wonderful. Who knew? Your photos are lovely. The Osprey nest is a wonder. I love your outdoor post.

How are your vacation plans going?
Happy days to you Pat, Hugs,Jeanne

My name is PJ. said...

I love osprey, period. We have them all along the Chesapeake and Delaware bays......

Confessions of a Plate Addict said...

How interesting to see the Egret with Manhattan in the background! I wasn't familiar with the refuge...what a great idea! Have a great weekend!...hugs...Debbie

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Once again Pat, this was fascinating and fun to read. The pictures are wonderful. I remember working with my now 20 year old daughter on a report for 6th grade about Ospreys. We thought it was pretty interesting even then.
♥, Susan

mrs. c said...

Wow! You always have some interesting posts on your blog. I just love to see what place you will show us next. I adore your photos and your show places that only a native New Yorker can find.

Vagabonde said...

What an interesting post. To view such wildlife is wonderful and your pictures are top notch.

Marie said...

May 15th I took a beautiful walk in Jamaica Bay, I came out in front and my eyes were drawn to the ground,right by the telephone. I saw a male c.yellowthroat dead. I sent Don my video and the Littoral Society $50 to put up dummy dots.The Visitor Center has netting in the back, not the front. I'm still waiting. It's called a Sanctuary. How long does it take to put up dummy dots?

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I'm very sorry to hear this Marie. Perhaps you should keep calling the Park Rangers or the Littoral society to see what the follow up will be?

I was only a visitor. I don't have any involvement with the refuge center in any way to be able to help you.

betsy said...

I had never seen photos of this refuge before. Fascinating, and true proof that NYC is not just wall to wall concrete!