Give yourself the gift of nature as often as you can.
Marine Park Salt Marsh Trail
I decided that since we didn't go camping this weekend, we'd at least do a hike in the city. I've been wanting to go to Marine Park for some time, since I keep reading about birding there in other NYC nature blogs. However, it's a longish ride by public transit, so I hadn't gotten myself organized to get there before now; this weekend we had access to a car.
We set out early to leave time for other activities later in the day, and picked Top Kid up from a sleepover at a friend's about 9:30. There wasn't much traffic and we made it to the park by about 10 AM. The Salt Marsh Nature Trail starts from behind the Salt Marsh Nature Center at Avenue U and E. 33rd St. There's plenty of parking in a lot directly across Avenue U. The nature center is only open weekends and for school groups during the week, so it was closed today (Memorial Day). There were a couple of tours, though, birding at 11 AM and something else at 2 PM.
The trail is less than a mile long and forms a loop with a shortcut across the center to a rise with a view all around the marsh. There are a few interpretive signs but it's mostly do your own observing. There's lots of interesting stuff to look at in the abundant marsh environment. We saw fiddler crabs, mussels and barnacles, and a variety of wildflowers.
We also took a detour down a dirt road along the side of the Marine Park golf course, which extended our hike a bit. Even though it wasn't a long hike, we managed to spend a couple of hours since there is so much to see.
Birds are indeed numerous. We saw countless red-winged blackbirds, flocks of house sparrows and starlings, snowy egrets, ospreys, seagulls, common terns, cormorants, barn swallows, mourning doves, a black-crowned night heron, possibly a blue heron in flight, a glimpse of a clapper rail, some sandpipers including either a killdeer or semipalmated plover (too far away to identify for sure), and a robin, and of course we heard lots of birds we couldn't see well enough to identify.