Wolfe's Pond

© SI Borough President's office

Nesting**    Spring Migration***    Fall Migration***    Winter**

(no star = birding is not very productive, * = somewhat productive, ** = productive, *** = very productive)

Note from Ed Johnson: As of February 2012, there is a tidal flow into the Wolfe’s Pond basin. The berm that separated the pond from the bay broke in August 2011 as a result of extremely high waters from Hurricane Irene. The Pond still attracts birds, just a different mix of species. During 2011 fall migration there were quite a few waders and shorebirds using the mud flats/stream, and an immature bald eagle appeared for a couple of days. It’s been pretty quiet during the winter, but more activity is expected with spring. Adena Long, the Staten Island Parks Commissioner, stated that they are committed to repairing the berm, it’s a matter of when the funds will be secured. In short, Wolfe’s Pond is different now due to Hurricane Irene effects, but still a worthwhile birding location.

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During the early 1800s, this area was farmed by Joel Wolfe, hence the name. Now it is a public park owned by the City of New York/Parks and Recreation. The Department of Parks and Recreation built a playground (with restrooms) and is planning tennis courts, leaving natural much of the 336 acres which feature woodlands of maple, oaks, and beech; ponds; and a ¾-mile stretch of dunes and cobbled shoreline. Wolfe’s Pond, a 16-acre freshwater body of water perched above the Staten Island water table, is only a short distance from oceanfront dunes. Legend has it that oystermen dammed up a tidal inlet to create a place to wash their catch. The pond is an ideal spot for night-herons, many duck species, and Belted Kingfisher. Wood Duck can be seen here in the spring and fall.

Belted Kingfisher

by D. Speiser

From the parking lot, cross the lawn to Wolfe’s Pond. Walk north along the pond’s eastern edge (back toward Hylan Boulevard) checking it for waterfowl and wading birds. Scan the shrubs and trees for migratory songbirds. Following an old roadbed that goes into the woods, you will enter a ravine, which was created by the outflow from Acme Pond, a 5-acre body of water on the north side of Hylan Boulevard. Staying on the south side of Hylan Boulevard, take the trail to the left, which crosses a stream, and ascend the steep slope of the forested ravine to a ridge. From here you can search the treetops in the ravine for songbirds, as well as scan Raritan Bay for waterfowl. During fall migration and winter, all three species of merganser can be found on the pond, in addition to American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup and Redhead. Eurasian Wigeon is an occasional visitor.

American Widgeon

by D. Speiser

Walk the beach area in winter to view loons, Common Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck, and large rafts of Brant that can be seen in the bay. The latter stay until the end of May, when they depart for their northern breeding grounds. Scan through the gulls on the beach for Glaucous and Iceland Gulls. A scope is recommended.

Cross Hylan Boulevard to stroll through an impressive mature forest that started sprouting after the colonists abandoned farming on Staten Island. There is good birding both in the woodlands and at Acme Pond, but dirt bikers disturb the tranquility, cause erosion, and destroy avian habitat. Rusty Blackbird frequent Acme Pond from late autumn through winter, and Fox Sparrow are here in winter.

Fox Sparrow

by D. Speiser

A small stream, where Common Snipe are seen, runs from Eylandt Street and can be accessed from Tottenville High School on Chisholm Street.

Wood Duck breed at Bunker Ponds Park , also owned by City of New York/Parks and Recreation. This park is located opposite Intermediate School 7 at the intersection of Huguenot Avenue and Hylan Boulevard. Make a side trip to Bunker Pond, if you have time.

When to Go
In spring, songbird migration is good from April 1 to June 1 and in fall, mid-August to early November. The best birding time of day is in the early morning. Later on when there are lots of people in the park, wary species are frightened off.

During the winter as well as September and October, birding for waterfowl is good anytime of day, particularly after a storm.

Personal Safety
Some parts of the park are isolated, so it is best to bird with others. Beware of dog ticks and poison ivy. Mosquitoes can also be a problem.

Getting There
Click here for Google map to Wolfe's Pond Park.

Special Note: As of late August, with Hurricane Irene, the fate of Wolfe’s Pond is currently in question. The berm that separated the pond from the bay broke as a result of extremely high waters. Wolfe’s Pond is currently Wolfe’s "Muddy Creek".

Resource Persons for Wolfe's Pond Birding: 

2012- Edward W. Johnson, Director of Science, Staten Island Museum
2001- Howard Fischer and Edward W. Johnson

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