Sandy Hook Bird Observatory
South Amboy

Wetland at South Amboy, photo by Scott BarnesBirding Highlights

The South Amboy site has diverse habitats, including freshwater pond and marsh, salt marsh, beach, mudflats, and Raritan Bay.   The bird list for this area includes over 210 birds.

The creek mouth and beach at Morgan are excellent for gulls and terns.  Rarities have included Black-headed, Little, Franklin's and Glaucous Gulls; Black and Sandwich Terns; and Hudsonian Godwit.

The freshwater pond at the end of Broadway is good for waterfowl during migration and winter, including Northern Pintail, Ring-necked Duck, and American Coot.  Check the muddy spots for shorebirds such as Common Snipe, Yellowlegs, and Least Sandpiper.  In spring, all five New Jersey swallows occur.  Least Bittern nests in the Phragmites nearby.

Raritan Bay Waterfront Park, formerly a landfill, is another point of access to the bay shore for migrating shorebirds in fall and spring, and for various waterfowl in winter.  One to two Black Brant have wintered here since 2003-4.



  • From the intersection of Routes 35 and 36 near Garden State Parkway exit 117, head north on Route 35 through Cliffwood and Laurence Harbor.  (If you are coming from Sandy Hook on Route 36, you will need to make a turn onto north Route 35.)

  • About 0.75 miles past the light at Laurence Harbor Parkway (24-hour Dunkin Donuts), you will cross over the Morgan Bridge (Cheesequake Creek).

  • The next street on the right (not a traffic light) will be Morgan Street.

  • Make a right here and follow the road around a right-angle turn (North St.) and down a hill (Cliff Ave.) to a cul-de-sac, where you can park.

  • Take care crossing the tracks of the N.J. Transit Jersey Shore commuter railroad to reach an area from which you can scan the mudflats and sandbars for birds.

The Pond

 From the Morgan site, return to Rt. 35, continuing north. 
  • In approximately 0.4 miles, take the right turn marked "Bordentown, South Amboy Business District."  This puts you on South Pine Avenue. 

  • Go about 1.2 miles to the first light, Bordentown Avenue, and take a right there.

  • Proceed to the traffic signal at Broadway and turn right again.

  • After two blocks, you will come to a stop sign where John O'Leary Ave. comes in at the left [no street sign was there in Oct. 2010].  Continue  toward the new Community Center/YMCA, following the road around to the left of the building.  Beware of oncoming traffic, especially trucks, on this basically one-lane road.  The pond is on the right, behind the Community Center, just after the paved road turns into a gravel road.

 Photo of Pied-billed Grebes by Brett Klaproth
Pied-billed Grebes
Photo by Brett Klaproth

Raritan Bay Waterfront Park

  • The entrance to this park is off of John O'Leary Ave.  So, follow the instructions for the pond, but at the new stop sign, turn left onto John O'Leary.

  • Cross the railroad track and take the first right (Keenan Way) into the park.

  • Walk southeast along the bay.

Bird List (as of Dec. 2009)

Snow Goose
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Western Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Northern Gannet
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Cormorant
American Bittern
Least Bittern
Western Reef Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Glossy Ibis
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Clapper Rail
Virginia Rail
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Am. Golden Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Piping Plover
American Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Hudsonian Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Snipe
Parasitic Jaeger
Laughing Gull
Franklin's Gull
Little Gull
Black-headed Gull
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Iceland Gull
Thayer's Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Glaucous Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Royal Tern
Sandwich Tern
Common Tern
Arctic Tern
Forster's Tern
Least Tern
Black Tern
Black Skimmer
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Black-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Great Horned Owl
Short-eared Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hum'bird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Acadian Flycatacher
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
White-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Horned Lark
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
No. Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Winter Wren
Marsh Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Am. Pipit
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Pine Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Palm Warbler
Bay Breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-and-White Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Towhee
American Tree Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow
Seaside Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Lapland Longspur
Snow Bunting
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

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