If you haven’t been, go to Sandy Hook (part of Gateway National Recreation Area) in New Jersey.
While you can see the fuzzy outline of Manhattan’s skyscraper’s if you look north, you will be too busy doing other far more interesting things to worry about the city.
From the bayside with lumbering horseshoe crabs, to the sandy forests filled with birds, to the historic lighthouse, Sandy Hook is filled with places to explore. I’ve been going for years and still feel like I’m just getting acquainted with the park. I can never decide whether to bike or swim or walk or birdwatch or just lay on the beach. So I usually try to combine them and end up awkwardly birdwatching from my bike on the way to the beach.
Sandy Hook just had a BioBlitz, coordinated by American Littoral Society and National Park Service. We meandered through different habitats, trying to catalogue as many bird species as we could find. I am still in awe of the expert, who was able to see a bird on the wing and call out what species it was. Even with the gulls.
We saw roughly 30+ bird species in just a few hours during the afternoon, not even prime birding time. Two of us were typing frantically to upload the sightings to iNaturalist, as there would be a flurry of sightings and then relative quiet. It was a thrilling afternoon of looking closely at a park, counting the ‘ordinary’ birds as well as the showstoppers.
If you can find a BioBlitz near you, go!
If you live near Sandy Hook, go!