Alley Pond Park is a great change of pace from New York City’s more popular hotspots. I particularly like going in spring to escape the throngs of birders at Central Park.
Years ago, shortly after I started birding, I found a small pond during a peak day in May. Warbler after warbler flew down to drink and bathe: Yellow-rumped, Northern Parula, American Redstart, Yellow, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Blue-winged, and my life Worm-eating Warbler! I was a convert.
During spring and fall migration, more than 20 warbler species can be seen, as well as cuckoos, tanagers, and other songbirds. Breeding birds include American Woodcock, Marsh Wren, Warbling Vireo, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Wood Thrush, and Great Crested Flycatcher. Fall can bring rarities, and in winter, Little Neck Bay, at the northern end, draws many waterfowl species.
The park has several entrances and is crossed by three major highways. To get your bearings, start at the Alley Pond Environmental Center on Northern Blvd. Pick up a trail map, check the wetlands behind the center, and enjoy. — David Speiser
Forests, lake, kettle ponds, grassland, shrubs, wetlands, saltmarsh.
Mostly flat with slight hills.
Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Yellow, Black-and-white, Chestnut-sided, Cerulean, Magnolia, Cape May, Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Yellow-rumped, Prairie, Blackpoll, Bay-breasted, Tennessee, Nashville, Blue-winged, Mourning, Worm-eating, Canada, Hooded, and Wilson’s Warblers, Northern Parula, Louisiana Waterthrush, Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-throated, White- and Red-eyed, and Warbling Vireos, Hairy, Downy, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, American Woodcock, Marsh Wren, Willow Flycatcher, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Wood Thrush, Great Crested Flycatcher. Rarities: Painted Bunting, Yellow-throated and Virginia’s Warblers.
When to go
April through July.
Alley Pond Environmental Center has trail maps, recent-sightings list, and restrooms. Bird walks hosted by Queens County Bird Club.
City park. No fees. Parking is free and available in lots and along park roads. To reach the park by public transportation, take the Flushing Line (7 train) to the Main St. station and then board the Q12 bus to Northern Blvd. (East). Or take the Long Island Railroad Port Washington line to the Bayside station, walk south to Northern Blvd., and catch the eastbound Q12 bus. A bus stop is in front of the environmental center.