You may think that Central Park wouldn’t have much to offer in the depths of a cold winter. My experience is otherwise.
I first discovered Central Park on a frigid Sunday morning in January 2011 when I ventured out to join a birdwatching tour. I had arrived in Astoria in Queens a month before and figured that birdwatching might provide a good way of meeting people. At the same time I would be resurrecting an interest I developed as a kid in the UK but which had been pretty much dormant for 20 or so years.
I was blown away by the variety of bird species I saw in freezing temperatures – over 280 species have been recorded in the Park – and the beauty of the Park blanketed by snow and ice.
The Park has since become my regular sanctuary in the heart of Manhattan . It is a masterpiece of design with miles of paths, amazing trees, geology, summer theatre and concerts – the list goes on.
Though I have spent a lot of time exploring the Park over the years, I continue to make new discoveries. A couple of weeks back I was walking in the Ramble, a woodland with a maze of winding pathways, great bird life and the odd raccoon, when I came across a Christmas tree decorated with mementos, ornaments and photos of departed pets.
Having grown up with two much-loved dogs I really connected with the sentiments expressed in the messages – reminiscing was a slightly sad but overall uplifting experience. What a great tradition! For more on the ‘secret’ Holiday Pets Memorial Tree see http://www.examiner.com/article/hidden-christmas-tree-central-park-memorializes-cherished-pets and http://rudedogs.wordpress.com/2007/12/17/december-16-2007-the-holiday-pets-memorial-tree/
Last Saturday (4th January) I took myself off to the Park for a walk and some birdwatching, though temperatures well below freezing were forecast.
It was a beautiful blue sky day. Despite the cold, the snow was sparkling and folk were enjoying the sunshine, cross-country skiing, dog walking and tobogganing.
It turned out to be a great day for birding. The walk began with an early and excellent view of a Long-eared Owl roosting in a pine tree. To cap the walk off I came across a whimsical carving of an owl among other beautiful carvings in the Bethesda Terrace area.
All in all it was a great day and a reminder that the Park is a great place in which to spend time year round. If you like things a little quieter there are far fewer people around in winter than in the peak tourist season.
Restrooms and eateries remain open and you can always grab a snack from the many food carts set up along the popular walking paths. Just make sure you rug up accordingly.