A stretch of the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway where you can spot rails, shorebirds, falcons, and songbirds.
By James McCormick | Published: 12/22/2016
Local birders refer to this hotspot as the Bayonne Golf Club, but, in fact, the course is private. We are really birding along a stretch of the 30-foot-wide Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, which is planned to connect the tip of Bayonne to the George Washington Bridge, about 15 miles upriver. The path parallels an inlet that is adjacent to a shopping mall and passes through a wetland-mitigation site and the golf course, which is built on a restored landfill.
I enjoy the ease of access and ambiance of the walkway. But it is more than just the wide, serpentine paved paths and the pleasant park benches overlooking the inlet that keep me coming back. The Bayonne Golf Club gives me a chance to explore a successfully restored marsh that is not overrun by phragmites and observe many birds at close proximity, especially from two plank bridges.
Known recently for a resident King Rail, the hotspot has yielded many other sought-after species, such as American Avocet, Snowy Owl, and Purple Gallinule. As an under-birded location with a variety of shorebirds and ducks passing through, I have no doubt that more rarities will be discovered here. — James McCormick
James McCormick is an ecologist and a biology teacher. He previously wrote about the Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve, Hotspot Near You No. 188.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Brackish marsh, cordgrass, mudflats, and open, coastal inlet.
Flat, wide paved paths. Wheelchair-accessible.
More than 160 species. American Avocet, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, peeps, dowitchers, Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, American Oystercatcher, Black- and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, Purple Gallinule, King and Clapper Rails, Black Skimmer, Merlin, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Snowy Owl, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Northern Shoveler, diving ducks and mergansers, gulls and terns, Marsh Wren, Snow Bunting, Common Yellowthroat, Dark-eyed Junco, Song, White-throated, and Swamp Sparrows, Common and Boat-tailed Grackles.
When to go
Year-round. Best for shorebirds April-September.
Benches, paved paths, and plank bridges. Shopping center offers free parking and restaurants.
State-regulated riverfront walkway. Open sunrise to sunset. Private property lines both sides of path; stay on walkway. Ice and severe cold may close walkway; check @BGCPubWalkway on Twitter for potential closures. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station at E. 34th St., just north of inlet.
Bring a spotting scope to scan inlet. No cover, so prepare for the elements. Obey posted signs and watch for occasional golf carts and bicycles.
For more info
Liberty State Park
About five miles north of walkway, on Freedom Way. A good place for owls, seabirds, and rarities such as Franklin’s Gull and Lark Bunting.