- Public transportation: Subway — 7 train to Main Street, then #12 Bus to Northern Boulevard and Little Neck Parkway. Walk north and follow driving directions from Little Neck Parkway. Long Island Railroad – to Little Neck Station. Follow driving directions from Little Neck Parkway.
- Car: Long Island Expressway, Grand Central Parkway or Northern Boulevard to Little Neck Parkway. Drive on Little Neck Parkway north to the end for the parking lot. One trail is located in this section. For Aurora Pond, Little Neck Parkway north just past the Long Island Railroad tracks. Turn left on 39th Avenue which turns into Sand Hill Road; Aurora Pond is on the left. Other views of Udall’s Cove along the eastern shore of the inlet in Douglaston.
Remarkably, the Long Island Railroad roaring past doesn’t detract from the serene experience of a hike around Aurora Pond, part of Udall’s Cove Park Preserve, another fine example of a rescued habitat thanks to community spirit.
Named after Robert Udall’s mid-1800s nearby mill, this inlet of Little Neck Bay was once home to the appropriately named Little Neck Clam (Venus mercenaria). Sadly, the clam vanished from these waters in the late 19th century thanks to pollution, overharvesting, and poaching. The subsequent years were just as difficult to the natural habitat with development in the 1950s and 60s, and wetlands becoming dumping grounds. But by 1970, the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee was formed and the tide began to turn, no pun intended.
Tucked between the Little Neck and Douglaston neighborhoods, and not far from Alley Pond Park, Crocheron Park and Joe Michael’s Mile, this 30+ acre park, evokes a certain neighborhood charm. Trails are tended by volunteers and the City’s Parks Department, and even the small parking lot abuts private homes.
Udall’s Cove is a thin slice of land with saltmarsh, forests, and the freshwater Aurora Pond. Saltmarsh Cordgrass gives way to Cattails as tidal creek waters become fresh. Look for woodland plants like Virginia Creeper, Boxelder, Silver Maple, American Elm and Cottonwood in the area.
Bird life abounds. Our visit to Aurora Pond on a warm December day was highlighted by Golden-crowned Kinglets, Black-capped Chickadees, White-throated Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, Northern Mockingbirds, Tufted Titmouse, and the call of a nearby Northern Flicker. Moving to the inlet’s western edge in Douglaston, provided views of Canada Geese, plenty of Mallard ducks with males in spectacular breeding plumage, and a Great Blue Heron fishing in the shallow water. Other birds reported in the area include Great Egrets, Belted Kingfishers, Common Terns, Osprey (nesting on a platform erected in 1997) and even Clapper Rails.
Warm weather brings on amphibians and reptiles like frogs, toads, salamanders, and turtles along with insects like colorful dragonflies. Mammalian life includes raccoon, muskrat, and occasionally fox.
Enjoy Udall’s Cove Park Preserve not only for the habitat, but also for inspiration of how community enthusiasm CAN make a difference!
- New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, accessed on 12/4/2009 at:
- Map of Forever Wild sections of Udalls Cove: http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_about/parks_divisions/nrg/forever_wild/pdf/Q452_2008%20FW%20-%20Udalls%20Cove%20Park%20Preserve.pdf.
- New York City Trees: A Field Guide for the Metropolitan Area by Edward Sibley Barnard, published 2002 by Columbia University Press.
- Udalls Cove Preservation Committee accessed on 12/4/2009 at: http://www.littleneck.net/udallscove/
- Wild New York: A Guide to the Wildlife, Wild Places, and Natural Phenomena of New York City, by Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson, published 1997 by Three Rivers Press.
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