Jones Beach State Park
|Description: Located on a 6.5-mile-long barrier island off the southwest shore of Long
Island, not far from New York City, Jones Beach is visited by millions annually
for its white, sandy beaches. Yet more than half of the park is composed of
creek outlets, ephemeral pools, sand dunes and salt marshes where you can
see several kinds of wildlife.|
Jones Beach is on the Atlantic Flyway, and many species of migratory birds
either come here to rest or pass through on their way to nesting or wintering
grounds. Waterfowl and wading birds find refuge in its marshes; a few species
of mammals live in its dunes; and several species of fish and other marine
creatures follow ancient cycles, gathering offshore, on the beach or in creek
estuaries at certain times of the year.
Wildlife to Watch: Some of the best wildlife watching is in the spring and fall, when viewing sites
are free of summer crowds. Out beyond the surf, look for eider, oldsquaw,
scoters and gannets. Many species of gulls and terns can also be seen at different
times of the year. Black skimmers zoom just inches above the water, their wingtips
occasionally touching the surface and their long, narrow lower bills knifing
through the water after small fish. More than 30 species of shorebirds visit the
beaches and tidal flats. Bitterns, herons and egrets grace the marshlands. Piping
plovers, endangered in New York State, are relatively common on the beach in
spring and early summer, along with killdeer and other plover species.
In May, thousands of primitive-looking horseshoe crabs crawl from the ocean
to breed, a mating ritual millions of years old. Diamondback terrapins also come
ashore to lay their eggs on bay beaches starting in late May. Fowler’s toads are
another summer resident, although you are more likely to hear them calling
during the breeding season than to see them.
In the fall, watch from the boardwalk viewing platform as hundreds of hawks,
kestrels, falcons and osprey fly past during peak migration. Fall is also when
thousands of monarch butterflies arrive on their way south.
Each winter, harbor seals appear in the surf or haul out on the rocks where you
can watch them with a good pair of binoculars. Snowy owls are not uncommon
from December through March.
Special Tips: This site has many accessible features, including the beach, visitors
center and fishing.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset, year-round. There is a
vehicle entrance fee. Other fees and activities vary by season; contact
the park directly.
516-785-1600; 2400 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh, NY 11793,
Ownership: NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Size: 2,413 acres with 6.5 Miles of ocean coastline
Closest Town: Wantagh
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: