By Jonathan Sperling
While the brightly colored Mandarin duck might have captivated park goers in Manhattan and across the country, Queens residents can be enchanted by ducks right in their own backyard.
Gateway National Recreation Area, home to such natural wonders as Jamaica Bay, is home to wide variety of ducks, including the Surf Scoter, a sea duck with a clown-like face, according to staff at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Broad Channel.
“Many species of ducks which breed in the Arctic spend the winter in the area,” explains Lisa Ann Fanning, one of the leaders of a bird walk in Gateway National Recreation Area. “They seek protection in the coves along Sandy Hook and usually remain here most of the winter.”
In celebration of the area’s ducks and other striking birds, Gateway National Recreation Area will hold two free events in November and December.
The first event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 23 at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. A park ranger will lead a night time, sunset hike around the refuge’s West Pond trail in order to teach attendees more about its nocturnal residents.
Call 718-318-4340 for reservations and be sure to dress warm. The refuge is accessible by public transportation by taking the A train to Broad Channel, or the Q21 bus.
A second walk will take place at Sandy Hook on Saturday, Dec. 9, beginning 10 a.m, hosted by the Monmouth County Audubon Society. Anyone interested in participating in the event can meet at 10 a.m. in the parking lot by the old Visitor Center, 1.8 miles north of the park entrance (U.S. Life-Saving Station - between Lot D & Lot E). The walk is open to both members and non-members of the Monmouth County Audubon Society.