Walk on the Wild Side
A list of parks, nature preserves, and hiking trails to enjoy the outdoors as well as wildflower viewing and birdwatching
May is a popular month to visit parks, nature preserves, and hiking trails, not only because it’s finally warm enough to enjoy the outdoors without arctic-level gear but also because this is prime time (with some exceptions) for wildflower viewing and birdwatching. The spring migrations peak now, so there’s a good chance of seeing rarer species than those who have been regulars at backyard feeders throughout the winter. In addition, most nature preserves really rev up their activity schedules when the days get longer. Many events were not finalized at press time; check the individual websites for complete program listings.
Beaver Meadow Audubon Center
1610 Welch Road, North Java
585-457-3228 or buffaloaudubon.org
There are seven Audubon sites in WNY. The headquarters at Beaver Meadow is the best place to start, but wildflower lovers should also investigate Rose Acres, which is nearby. Some of the other sites require guides, as they are less accessible. Check the website for information and events.
Ramp it Up
Here’s a rare opportunity to find and harvest ramps (wild leeks). Preregistration is required.
Charles E. Burchfield Nature & Art Center
2001 Union Road, West Seneca
677-4843 or burchfieldnac.org
The park is open daily. Trails and boardwalks lead through wooded areas, meadows, and gardens.
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
1101 Casey Road, Basom
585-948-5445 or fws.gov/refuge/Iroquois
Trails and overlooks are open from sunrise to sunset, but some access is closed during breeding season (March 1–October 1). However, there are good shorebird and warbler sighting opportunities in May; visit the Feeder Road site for shorebirds and the Swallow Hollow and Kanyoo Trails for warblers.
Reinstein Woods (selected events)
93 Honorine Drive, Cheektowaga
May 5, 1 p.m.
Woods Walk: A guided walk explores the patterns found in the natural world.
May 8, 11 a.m.
Medicinal Herb Walk: Learn about healing plants found in the wild.
May 12, 2:30
Warblers for Beginners: Learn about and look at migrating warblers.
May 16, 6:30
Birdwatching Walk: Find seasonal birds.
May 19, 1 p.m.
Wood’s Walk: A Reinstein guide leads a nature walk through the woods.
May 20, 9 a.m.
Birding by Ear: Learn to recognize birds by their calls and songs.
Tifft Nature Preserve
1200 Fuhrmann Boulevard
825-6397 or tifft.org
May 2, 16, 23, 30
Budding Naturalists: This a.m. drop-off program involves three-to-five-year-olds in high-quality, developmentally appropriate science activities. Registration is required.
Times Beach Nature Preserve
Coast Guard Station S Road
896-1271 or friendsoftimesbeachnp.org
A valuable bird and pollinator conservation site, Times Beach is located where the Niagara River meets Lake Erie. This is the western edge of the Niagara River’s globally significant important bird area. Its trails, boardwalks, and viewing areas are open daily.
Think about joining:
The Buffalo Ornithological Society: This group has at least three field trips, as well as a bird count, scheduled in May. Visit buffaloornithologicalsociety.org, where you’ll find a membership form and information. (Dues are only $20 yearly.)
The Niagara Frontier Botanical Society: Established in 1983, this group is dedicated to the study and appreciation of plant life. There are meetings and field trips throughout the year and a great plant sale (May 19). The society is affiliated with the Science Museum, but holds meetings at the Harlem Road Community Center.
Upcoming events include Seeds: It’s What’s for Dinner (May 8) and field trips in Lockport (May 1), Owens Falls Sanctuary (May 5) and Penn-Dixie Fossil Park and Nature Reserve (May 12). CLICK HERE for information on membership and more.