Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jamaica Bay

Not the image that comes to mind when you picture New York City, is it?  This is Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The refuge office is on Cross Bay Boulevard in the New York City borough of Queens. Click on the photo to enlarge. 
You can see the distant Manhattan skyline from the gravel paths of the refuge. The tallest building is the New World Trade Center. 
You can get there on the NYC subway -- another surprise! From my Brooklyn neighborhood it takes about 40 minutes to get to Broad Channel station, about a mile from the refuge. The last half of the ride is above ground. Take the Mott Avenue-Far Rockaway bound A train. Click here to check the schedule with the MTA's trip planner.  Step out of the station and walk straight to Cross Bay Boulevard. Turn right. Continue to the refuge entrance on the left side of the road. 
Then relax and walk around the West Pond. The trail takes you for a 1.6 mile stroll through woodland and marsh. 

Yesterday I saw cormorants, great egrets, ruddy ducks, mallards, song sparrows, kinglets, mute swans, Canada geese, and large flocks of brant geese. But the real stars were the yellow-rumped warblers. 
Thousands of yellow-rumped warblers were darting across the paths and flitting from branch to branch. They migrate down the east coast in large numbers every autumn. Some of them will continue south and some will spend the winter in New York, especially in coastal areas like the refuge where wax-myrtle plants provide food for them. 
The yellow-rumped warbler, Setophaga coronata, is also called the myrtle warbler.  The picture above explains its common nickname butter butt. 
The trail has nicely placed benches for a mid-hike picnic lunch. 
The autumn foliage is perfect now, too. :-) 

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