A recent hike at Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge Complex on Long Island gave OvS principal Sheila Brady a new perspective on how habitats promote healthy ecologies.
For Sheila, the hike brought to mind the gardens she designed for The Native Plant Garden at the New York Botanical Garden.
The Rocky Beach Trail, a six-mile hilly hike through the grand estate of Ferdinand and Mary Eberstadt, introduces visitors how the ecology of the area provides for hundreds of waterfowl species and other birds that use the area for nesting, wintering and migratory stop-overs. “It was a real eye-opener as to how plants here promote healthy ecosystems that sustain and protect migratory bird populations,” said Brady.
Hikers see fields of cord grass, whose roots filter out excess salt from absorbed water, as well as high-tide bush, a woody plant that produces white flowers in early autumn. The berries from the groves of red cedar provide food for migrating birds. Walking along the water you can see nesting habitats for belted kingfishers and bank swallows. Even dead trees are important to wildlife, especially for woodpeckers who search for insects and songbirds, and raccoons and flying squirrels who nest in tree cavities.