Timeout New York Kids

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Audubon Winter EcoCruises kick off on Sunday, January 6

The best thing about winter in NYC may just be the Audubon Winter EcoCruises to Hoffman and Swinburne islands in search of cold-weather wildlife.

  • Courtesy NYC Audubon

  • Courtesy NYC Audubon

  • Courtesy NYC Audubon

  • Courtesy NYC Audubon

  • Courtesy NYC Audubon

  • Courtesy NYC Audubon

  • Courtesy NYC Audubon

  • Courtesy NYC Audubon

Courtesy NYC Audubon

It seems impossible that it's that time of year again. No, not to wallow in the midwinter blues but to set sail on the cold-weather version of Water Taxi's Audubon EcoCruise: The first of a whopping five tours to be offered this season departs from Pier 17 on Sunday, January 6. Naturalists-in-training will journey through Buttermilk Channel and around Governors Island, into the Erie Basin, under the Verrazano Bridge, and around Hoffman and Swinburne Islands in search of all kinds of wildlife that have traveled south and chosen NYC as their winter haven—harbor seals included. For some reason, these playful mammals, whose summer homes are in the subarctic to southern Maine, are new to the region; they began making the stopover only about ten years ago. Other fauna your family might see are such waterbirds as loons, grebes, purple sandpipers, Brant geese and ducks—some from as far north as the Arctic—that can only be found here in the winter. The tour is led by the amazing Audubon naturalist Gabriel Willow, who'll give you a running commentary of wildlife he (somehow) spies along the way and brush you and the kids up on NYC's fascinating natural history. Last January, we ended up spotting seals frolicking in the water near our boat. There are no guarantees you'll see the same, of course, but you'll have a ball trying on this chilly-weather cruise to a spot you've probably never been before. Dress warm and bring binoculars—and don't worry: You can stay warm in the cabin and partake of a variety of beverages and snacks during the trip. Sun Jan 6, 13, 20, 27, Feb 3 2–4pm (boarding begins at 1:45pm). Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport. $35, kids under 13 $25. Ages 6 and up. Click here for reservations.


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