A Day of Boats and Chicken-Watching in Central Park

Sunrise over Central Park

Dawn over Central Park

Essentially the most eligible bachelor in Manhattan in the meanwhile is neither an actor nor a politician, however somewhat a duck. Not your typical flash-in-the-pan-with-port-wine-and-cherries sort of duck. He’s an escaped Mandarin duck who has vacationers and locals alike flocking to Central Park simply to catch a glimpse of his placing swatches of blue and brilliant orange.

His surprising arrival led me to the wonderful people at New York Metropolis Audubon, which conducts birding expeditions in all 5 boroughs of New York—however the Mandarin has given particular consideration to their guided strolling excursions by means of Central Park.

The Mandarin duck (Credit: NYC Parks/M. Pinckney)

The Mandarin duck (Credit score: NYC Parks/M. Pinckney)

Most individuals don’t know this, however the 843 acres that compose Central Park, with its artifical avian habitats (meadows, grassy hillocks, rocky crags, woodlands, ravines, ponds, and streams), make it a world-class birding vacation spot. One may virtually assume that that is what designers Frederick Legislation Olmsted and Calvert Vaux had in thoughts when the park was beneath building in 1858. Nearly a 3rd of all of the wild birds in North America reside or cross by means of New York Metropolis every year. Greater than 280 chicken species have been recorded in Central Park alone, and its location provides the right place throughout spring and fall migration (sure, caravans of migrant birds are welcomed; you realize, give me your drained, your poor, your hooded warbler).

Audubon tour (Credit: NYC Audubon)

Audubon tour (Credit score: NYC Audubon)

For under $36, NYC Audubon supplied me an insider’s view to bird-watching to this novice birder on a brisk November morning. I took half of their Fall Migration Stroll, which began on the park’s north finish, situated at 103rd and Central Park West. Our information led us by means of woodlands, waterways and meadows as we made our means right down to the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. In only a handful of hours, we have been dazzled with sightings of over 40 species, together with a red-tailed hawk, an japanese pink bat, mallard geese, tufted titmice, and a cardinal scanning its environment for meals.

Tip: In case you go to NYC Audubon’s web site, you may print out their Birds of Central Park guidelines, a list of 200 species of untamed birds which have frequented the realm since 1886 that will help you maintain monitor of your finds.



After my strolling expedition, I used to be nonetheless intoxicated by the great thing about nature, and the thought of renting a row boat and having fun with a lazy afternoon on the lake was too good to cross up. What higher means may there be to soak up the bursting colours of fall and the dramatic views of the NYC skyline, and to burn off the energy from the bagels and blintzes from a Zabar’s breakfast? To the boathouse I went…

Tip: Walks in NYC are additionally sponsored by the Central Park Conservancy (a non-profit that really manages Central Park), the American Museum of Pure Historical past, the Linnaean Society of NY, City Park Rangers, the Nature Conservancy, and unbiased naturalists.

Loeb Boathouse, initially constructed in 1874 after which rebuilt after being destroyed by a fireplace within the 1950s, is named the unofficial headquarters for a lot of birders. For many years, there’s been a loose-leaf pocket book on the entrance. Any birdwatcher is welcome to report their sightings of the day after which toast their onerous work with a well-deserved cocktail or a chew of one thing heat and yummy.

Boaters from Bow Bridge

Boaters from Bow Bridge

Boats on the boathouse can be found on a first-come, first-served foundation for $15/hour. Some of the romantic sights to see from the lake is the elegant Bow Bridge, so named to evoke a picture of a violinist or an archer. It’s the second-oldest cast-iron bridge in America and been featured in movies, TV reveals and commercials. On this November morning, nevertheless, it was virtually empty (after I returned over the weekend it was teeming with individuals…a lot for love).

Bow Bridge hyperlinks Cherry Hill, with its refined pin oaks and welcoming beech bushes, to the Ramble, my private favourite spot in your complete park. Its thick woodlands cowl an area from 72nd avenue to 79th. Olmsted designed it to be a pristine wilderness, and it’s simply that (although I did see a rat mating with a Starbucks cup). There are feeders positioned within the bushes for the birds and critters that scamper, and there are many park benches with shifting dedications for passersby.

Central Park in fall

Central Park in fall

If you do run into different individuals right here, they appear to be kindred spirits craving for the great thing about the outside. I met a beautiful lady from Staten Island who kindly identified a cardinal and a tufted titmouse. I assumed that she knew what she was speaking about as a result of she had a pair of binoculars round her neck, and up to now, the one chicken I had ever efficiently recognized was large and yellow and co-starred in The Muppet Film.

Inside the Ramble

Contained in the Ramble

For me, the Ramble is the true coronary heart of the park. Nearly instantly after my first stroll by means of its wooded splendor, I had to return for a second. Only one go to wouldn’t do (form of like ordering a virgin margarita). Exterior of this 37-acre oasis, there are individuals scrambling from one vacation spot to the subsequent with errands to be run, offers to be made, egos to stroked. Which is okay and a part of life. (The Central Park Mall, a tree-lined esplanade that runs by means of the center of the park from 66th to 72nd is bustling with businessmen and skate boarders, pretzel distributors and cyclists.) However not right here. There’s no dashing within the Ramble. It’s extra like a saunter. And as if they have been getting into a home of worship, individuals getting into the Ramble decrease their voices to a hush out of reverence for nature. It’s a meditation unto itself, and also you linger so long as climate permits.

Sure, winter is coming. However that’s okay. NYC Audubon has walks to information you thru any season.


Denise Soulam Banks

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