I’ve been living in New York City since February 2012. I love the city but not for its mammal watching. That said, there are Grey Squirrels in Central Park and if you want to risk the place at night then Skunks, Opossums and Raccoons are reputedly common. In fact I saw a Raccoon at 6 p.m. in May 2011. But you could also drink Margaritas and eat in any of 10,000 restaurants so why bother?
The rest of the State has more mammals and fewer distractions, but I have not spent much time looking for them.
I have seen White-tailed Deer on Long Island and upstate New York, as well as a Porcupine in the Catskills and also caught Deer Mice and Short-tailed Shrews too in the forest up there.
Fishers are also relatively common in the Albany area though I have yet to see them there. The Albany Pine Bush Discovery Centre is one place to focus efforts as Fishers are frequently camera trapped there, especially at night.
In mid-February 2009 I was reliably informed by Andrew Block that there was a juvenile Harp Seal on eastern Long Island at Shinnecock Bay, near the Ponquague bridge. I was there a fortnight later and took a look. I couldn’t see a Harp Seal but there were plenty of Harbour Seals.
I returned to the same same spot with Andrew in January 2013 and we saw a Harp Seal in almost exactly the same place that he’d seen one four years earlier. It was hauled out on a sand island a few hundred yards east of the Ponquogue Bridge. The animal was on its own on the beach of a small island out in Shinnecock Bay, and the island had a basic blind (presumably a hunting blind?) set up on the northern end. It was much too far away for pictures and even through a scope it was difficult to get a clear look because of the (freezing) wind. But Andrew and I estimated it was 5ft long. The animal was tan – a slightly grey tan and a little paler than the sand – and we couldn’t see any significant spotting on it.
There are a growing number of records of Harp Seals (usually juveniles) each year on Long Island between January and May. Hooded Seals are also increasingly finding their way to these waters too, as well as occasional Ringed Seals.
Our expedition that day also found a bird that was almost as good as a mammal.
Upper Delaware River (New York/Pennsylvania border), 2023: Vladimir Dinets, 5 hours & 5 species including Fisher, Mink and Otter.
Northeast USA & Quebec: Mihir Zaveri’s note includes an American Marten in New Hampshire, Beavers near New York City & Belugas in Quebec.
Adirondacks, July 2021: Vladimir Dinets’ brief note of 7 species including a Mink near Wilmington.
Adirondacks, January 2021: Vladimir Dinets, with notes of many mammal tracks in the snow and sightings including Northern Flying Squirrel and Southern Bog Lemming.
Wallkill River & Shawangunk N.W.R, 2020: Andrew Block’s note of a day out including Mink and Muskrat.
Harp Seal at Albany, March 2019
River Otter in Long Island Sound, March 2019
Demarest Kill Country Park – Flying Squirrels and more north of NYC (July, 2016)
RFI: Mammals of New York State (August, 2014)
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