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NY DEC Watchable Wildlife

Outdoor Discovery

Alley Pond Park
Description: Just a few steps from bustling Long Island traffic, Alley Pond Park is a natural gem in the middle of northeastern Queens. Observe fish, reptiles, amphibians and abundant birds at the county’s second-largest and most diverse nature park. Glacial kettle-hole ponds pockmark this landscape of forests, meadows and freshwater wetlands that transition to saltwater wetlands and tidal flats before meeting Little Neck Bay on Long Island Sound. More than 500 of the park’s 657 acres are designated “forever wild.”

Alley Pond’s freshwater wetlands in particular teem with life. In addition to harboring native species of waterfowl, they also provide resting, breeding and feeding grounds for thousands of migrating birds as they travel each spring and fall along the Atlantic Flyway. Nutrient-rich, shallow ponds grow thick with water plants that provide habitat for turtles, fish, frogs and dragonflies.

Alley Pond Park also includes many rare plants, and its trees are some of the largest in the New York City metropolitan area. For example, the Alley Pond Giant, a tulip tree standing more than 130 feet high, has a trunk more than 18 feet around and is estimated to be between 350 and 450 years old.

Wildlife to Watch: Ospreys, red-tailed, broad-winged and Cooper’s hawks, and great horned owls are raptors often seen by park visitors. Ring-necked pheasants and bobwhite quail will sometimes come out of hiding in meadows and at forest margins.

Mallards nest in swamp loosestrife, and wood ducks find shelter in dead trees near the swamp. Lesser scaup, American coot, northern shoveler and many other varieties of migrating waterfowl and waterbirds are also common. Yellow and pine warblers, cardinals, dark-eyed juncos and rusty blackbirds are among the forest birds you’ll see here.

Muskrat and red fox are two mammals you’re likely to spot, particularly in the spring. Kettle-hole ponds and other small wooded wetlands support New York City’s best remaining populations of spotted and two-lined salamanders, wood frogs, spring peepers and gray tree frogs. The ponds are also home to bass, bluegill, perch, carp and killifish

Special Tips: Hours: Monday–Saturday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from September through June. Closed Sundays in July and August and on some holidays.

718-229-4793, www.nycgovparks.org/parks/alleypondpark

Ownership: NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation 
Size: 657 acres 
Closest Town: Douglaston, Queens

RestroomsFishingHikingVisitor CenterSmall BoatsDrinking WaterBicycling

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Green Frog - Photo by Bill Banaszwrski
Please see map link below

Driving Directions:
To the Adventure Course and the White, Yellow, Blue and Green hiking trails: Take the E or F train to the Union Turnpike Station. Transfer to the Q46 bus, and get off at the Winchester Blvd. stop. Cross the street, and walk north on Winchester Blvd., toward the highway overpass. Walk past the Alley Pond tennis courts on your left. Continue north toward the highway overpass; the entrance to the park is on your left, underneath the Grand Central Pkwy. overpass. Follow the entry road to the parking lot. The hiking trails and adventure course are located beyond the soccer field.

Map Link

Alley Pond Park : Wildlife Viewing Area