Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The "salt marsh"

One of my favorite areas of the park is what we call the "salt marsh" - though it's really just a tidal mud flat with a few marsh grasses around its riprapped edges. The nature center's porch overlooks the marsh and offers good birding. We have an egret that hunts for fiddler crabs during low tides, an occasional green-backed heron or cormorant, and views of the bald eagles' hack platform.

The "marsh" is actually a silted-up old course of the first United States Ship Canal (see previous post), but still, it gives an idea of what the edges of Manhattan used to be like. The mats of reeds typical of most marshes are restricted to only a few spots along the edge of Inwood's marsh, thanks to big boulders placed as riprap around the edges of the water. This is too bad - those grasses do a great deal in other marshes to filter out all sorts of pollution. All too often, fast-food litter and dog sewage from the park's fields wash away unimpeded into the marsh and the river beyond.

Still, the mud flats provide a good enough refuge not only for birds, but also for bird food like perch, crabs, oysters, and smaller fish called mummichogs.

The eagles, by the way, are just starting to fly off the platform and around the park. I spotted one last Friday gliding above the soccer field by Shorakapok rock.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff...thanks for sharing.