This site is administered by NYS OPRHP and includes a one-milelong,
half-mile-wide lake and surrounding lands. The lake provides
a variety of aquatic habitats and is used by wintering waterfowl. The
park?s additional bodies of water, South and Sailboat Ponds, are less
attractive for waterfowl and receive less use.
Hempstead Lake is one of the most important sites on Long Island
for wintering waterfowl, with buildups beginning in late August and
peaking in the late fall and winter. At peak times, the numbers run
into the many thousands with the following species present: Gadwall,
American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Mallard, Northern
Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Lesser
Scaup, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, and Ruddy Duck.
Of these, the most numerous are the American Black Duck, Mallard,
and Lesser Scaup. While the American Black Ducks and Mallards
move in and out all day, the Lesser Scaup (which in some years have
totaled several thousand) stay on the lake continuously. This is also one
of the most important sites for migrant landbirds on Long Island. A
normal day reveals 50-75 species of birds during a leisurely morning
stroll. In addition, approximately 17 species of shorebirds have been
observed foraging at the north end of the lake when water levels go down. Large numbers of Common Terns and some Forster?s Terns use
the area as a feeding and bathing site in late summer.
A proposal has been made to open the lake to boating for fishing
purposes. This may cause disturbance to waterfowl if permitted during
the winter season. A thorough assessment of the potential impacts
of boating on wintering waterfowl should be conducted before the
activity is approved. Depending on the findings of such an assessment,
it may be necessary to control boating during the peak waterfowl
season. Regular surveys of waterfowl should be carried out at the site.
? Jerry and Sherry Liguori
American Black Duck