Cross the Buttermilk Channel and explore the wilderness areas of Governors Island with urban naturalist Gabriel Willow. Although largely developed with forts, houses, lawns, churches, and mini-golf courses, the island is also a wilderness area home to numerous plants, pollinators, and nesting birds. The island’s abandoned pier has the only nesting colony of threatened Common Terns in NYC. We will walk some private paths otherwise inaccessible to the public in search of migrating birds, dragonflies, and monarch butterflies.

Today, the idea of “wilderness” as a space apart from humanity is largely a fallacy, although even the most remote regions on the planet are subject to human influence in the form of climate change. During our exploration, we will reconnect with the overlooked nature right here, in the heart of one of the densest metropoles on the planet. Governors Island’s setting offers the opportunity to renew our relationship with the wildness of this place and the essential nature that connects the wild to our urban humanity.

Participants will meet at Pioneer Works at noon and cross the Channel by ferry before being lead through rarely visited wilderness of Governor’s Island. The walk will end at Nolan Park #17, where NYC Audubon has its residency, including several art exhibitions.

Price: $50.00 [cost includes ferry ticket]

Audience: All ages are welcome. This class will involve walking through wilderness areas so appropriate clothing is recommended.

Materials: No materials are required, although sketchbooks and cameras are welcome. The registration fee includes a ferry ticket to the Island.

Gabriel Willow is an urban naturalist & educator with a particular passion for birds. He developed curricula, school programs, and science content for The WildLab, an award-winning citizen science and technology program. He leads tours and teaches classes for NYC Audubon and Wave Hill, and was the Senior Naturalist at the Prospect Park Audubon Center in Brooklyn for several years. He has developed programming for the Brooklyn Museum, Lincoln Center, Morgan Library & Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYBG, City As Living Laboratory, and others. He is also an artist, illustrator, and DJ.