Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Mill Creek Point Park

My first quest to search out Mill Creek Point Park in Secaucus had me turning down a narrow street more suited for a horse and buggy than a car. The pocket-sized street turned into another and then another and just as I was ready to give in and do the most emasculating thing possible and ask for directions, the street began to enlarge until I glanced to my left and saw Spartina grasses moving in the marshlands like emerald waves in a sea green.

As I cruised cautiously ahead a big welcoming sign that read, “Mill Creek Point Park, ” came into view. I stopped and opened the car door and the effervescent, bubbly sounds of the Marsh Wrens filled the air from every direction. That’s when I knew I must in the right place for sure.

Just as Mill Creek Point Park is the meeting place of the Hackensack River and the Mill Creek, so it is also a wonderful get-together location for Bald Eagles, Black Skimmers, Yellow-Crowned Night Herons and Peregrine Falcons. The great riverfront promenade is encircled by hundreds of acres of restored wetlands and an adjacent 1,500-foot elevated boardwalk runs from Mill Creek Point Park to the Secaucus High School. This makes birding the restored marshlands to one side and the Hackensack River on the other offer a unique experience .

One of the great things about Mill Creek Point Park is the rare high marsh habitat along the high school walkway. High marsh habitat is being lost all along the East Coast and its value is tremendous. The walkway allows people to get higher than the marsh and view this beautiful habitat. There have been sightings of Seaside Sparrow, Yellow-crowned Night Heron and Clapper Rail. This marsh also has the highest density of breeding Marsh Wrens in the Meadowlands District and in the spring you can find Wilson’s snipe feeding along the mudflats.

Winter brings more great birds to the park also. Bald Eagles, Rough-legged Hawks and Northern Harriers can be seen hunting the marsh. Along the river marvelous rafts of Ruddy Ducks drift along the river flows and Great Cormorants perched on the pylons are always a welcome winter sight.

The birds of the Meadowlands seem to go through a magical transformation at Mill Creek Point, thanks to the various unique habitats, and season-to-season migration brings in more birds species that depend on the river and its marshes. From the joy of listening to the Marsh Wrens and watching the breathtaking strength of a hunting Peregrine, visiting Mill Creek Point is always among the best birding experiences in the Meadowlands .

Join Bergen County Audubon and the NJSEA for a Free Nature walk at Mill Creek Point on Sunday Jan. 3 from 10am to noon. For more information contact or 201-230-4983.

Directions to Mill Creek Point Park,-74.044011&mrsp=1&sz=16&t=h&geocode=&hl=en&mra=ls&sll=40.80134,-74.049638&sspn=0.00123,0.001993&ie=UTF8&z=16

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