Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


(double click on any image to enlarge)
If you answered Queens NYC, you would be correct. Right off the Belt Parkway, four miles from JFK Airport, enter the other world of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. We walked an easy 2 mile trail, stayed on the gravel path as was demanded, managed to see Osprey chicks on their nesting platform, and a turtle energetically covering a clutch of eggs she had deposited in the middle of a dirt road. The orange flag warned Park staff not to drive vehicles over the area. Native species of reptiles and amphibians have been introduced and there is an active terrapin nesting area set aside.Because there are not a
lot of trees on site there
is an nesting box pro-
gram. I saw boxes for
bats,Tree Swallows,
House Wrens, Kestrals,
and this big one for
Barn Owls. I was imagin-
ing an owl peeking out
but of course, no such

The site is a paradise for
local birders (325
species have been
recorded); shore birds
like egrets, ibis, and
herons as well as song
birds find shelter here.

I was mostly having fun
with the wild flowers.
Although I expected Rosa rugosa, seen in both flower and fruit stages in late June, butterfly weed, honeysuckle, milkweed,this is a managed park. Yuccas spike the landscape; many are newly planted. Buddlia and coreopsis attract butterflies. Another unexpected plant was the prickly Pear Cactus. I don't normally think of it as a New York City wildflower. I learned it grows wild from MA to FL and north to MN, but I never imagined cactus juxtaposed with JFK.
To learn more, get directions, and a schedule of guided walks and nature programs visit: the National Parks site. Take your Deep Woods Off when you visit.


Duchess said...

Lovely. thank you. Did you know that native orchids used to thrive on what is now the runways at JFK?
Love the turtles...

Ellen Spector Platt said...

Did not, but I'll be thinking about wild orchids the next time I'm taxiing down the runways.

meemsnyc said...

How cool, that is Queens!

Shady Gardener said...

Hi! I'm thinking this is a great break from the city. I'd love to see your wild orchids "in person!" :-) Thanks for sharing this post!

Ellen Spector Platt said...

Shady,This IS the city, as much as the Empire State building is. After 8 years here I'm still amazed by my discoveries. It's so easy to be Manhattancentric.

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