Local Birding Locations
Meadowlands IBA – Mill Creek Marsh
eBird hotspot L389014
These 209 acres of tidal creeks and open impoundments are excellent in late summer for shorebirds, good in fall and early winter for waterfowl, and fairly good year-round for breeding and migrant passerines. Until the water freezes, large numbers of several duck species linger on the pools, often perching on the ancient white cedar stumps; a male Common Teal has wintered here several times. Spring and fall see a small movement of swifts, flycatchers, swallows, orioles, and warblers. Breeding songbirds include Willow Flycatcher, Marsh Wren, Yellow Warbler, and Orchard Oriole. From late July to mid-September, migrant shorebirds are abundant and often very close to the trail on the rising tide, the commonest species usually Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, and Semipalmated Plover. Ospreys can be seen in the summer and Rough-legged Hawks in the winter; Peregrine Falcons are present all year, easiest to see when they are hunting shorebirds on the mudflats.
A wide, level, well-maintained trail (one mile) loops around the main pools and through patches of fruit-bearing trees favored by migrant passerines. In summer and early fall, the best birding is from an hour to three hours after low tide, which occurs here at approximately the same time as at GARRETTS REACH in North Secaucus. The falling tide is much less productive.
Food and restrooms are available in the shopping center between the marsh and Highway 3.
From Montclair, take Highway 3 east to the exit for North Bergen / Kennedy Boulevard / Interstate 95 North. Immediately after passing under the eastern spur of the New Jersey Turnpike, exit right and loop onto Harmon Meadow Boulevard. Harmon Meadow leads to a T intersection at Park Plaza Drive; turn left here and follow the road to the parking lot, between Bob’s Discount Furniture and the well-marked gate to the marsh. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION options are limited. Because the trail is a loop, it is easy to put the sun at your back at any time of day.
eBird hotspot L207576
Essex County’s third-largest park, the 120 acres of Brookdale Park provide a wide range of recreational opportunities, including good birding from August to May. On a good morning in mid-May or early September, the species list here rivals that of nearby Garret Mountain—and there are no crowds. June and July can be very quiet, though Eastern Wood-Pewee, Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos, Wood Thrush, and Carolina Wren can usually be heard or seen in the denser, higher woods at the north and south ends of the park. At the height of migration, any of New Jersey’s passerines should be looked for on the lawns, in the open woodlands, and at the brushy edges maintained for birdlife by the Brookdale Park Conservancy. The dry pond is very good for sparrows in April and October, with recent records of Grasshopper, Lincoln’s, and Vesper. Hawk migration can be good here in September, with good views from the convenient benches in the rose garden. Winter is less active, but checking the hemlock patches and feeders on the edge of the park can turn up Red-breasted Nuthatch or Pine Siskin.
A wide, level, paved trail (almost two miles) loops through the park and past all of its important mini-habitats. The best birding is early in the morning; the park is heavily used in the middle of the day, but standing or sitting quietly on the edge of the woods at the south end of the park can still be productive.
Restrooms are available in the park.
The park can be entered from Bellevue Avenue, Watchung Avenue, or any of the dead end roads leading east from Grove Street. There is parking on some of the park roads and in lots on each side of the running track. New Jersey Transit bus 72 stops on Broad Street two blocks east of the Bellevue Avenue entrance to the park.