|109 Route 50, Mays Landing, NJ |
Phone: (609) 625-1897
Atlantic County Parks
Open daily from dawn to dusk. Warren Fox Nature Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Gates are locked at dusk, but there is a parking area to the side to allow extra early or late access. Paddlers welcome.
This is the first stop on the trail. From the intersection of Routes 40 and 50 in May's Landing, continue South on Route 50. After 3.5 miles, turn Left into the entrance for Estell Manor Park. Map
Swamp Trail Boardwalk - the boardwalk starts not far down a paved walkway behind the nature center off to the left and travels through mixed woods, maple swamps, and eventually to an outlook of the Great Egg Harbor River. Along the boardwalk you can go past a variety of wildflowers in spring, through a cedar swamp and along a small stream bed with a variety of plants and animals. If you look toward the South River you might see a Bald Eagle or an otter.
The park also features picnic pavilions, softball and soccer fields, and volleyball courts, and an exercise trail. The Nature Center has maps of the park available during work hours.
There is a small pond a few hundred feet behind the nature center that is off the main trail and can be easily overlooked. This pond is a prime breeding habitat for the wood frog. If you visit the site in March you are likely to hear this lesser-known species of frog calling during its very brief breeding season.
|Juvenal's Duskywing||Tony Geiger
||Located along the Western Banks of the scenic Great Egg Harbor River, Estell Manor Park has gone through a variety of changes over the years. During WWI the area was a munitions factory called Belcoville that had over 5000 employees. What are trails now used to be railroad beds, making for flat, easy hiking. These trails explore mixed woods, tidal wetlands, mixed swamp and low growing shrubs that hosts a great selection of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, plants and mammals. Those who have just gained an interest in wildlife and the outdoors will find the nature center extremely helpful, as it offers a friendly and helpful staff and a wealth of information. The scenic quality of the Great Egg Harbor River is a bonus to this beautiful wooded park.
The winter vulture roost near the park entrance can be quite impressive, with as many as 50 birds present at any given time. For such large birds they are very quiet and shy. Watching them in the morning sitting in the sun with their wings spread conjures prehistoric images.
The area around the nature center is full of White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos, but keep your eye out for Fox Sparrow, Purple Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Brown Creeper as as they often frequent the park as well. Hermit Thrushes and Golden-crowned Kinglets are also regulars at this location. Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks sometimes hunt the feeders. White tailed deer can usually be found in the veteran’s cemetary. There is a large roost of Turkey Vultures near the park entrance, where 50 or more vultures can often be seen at once. Fox and Coyote can be tracked in the sand or snow. When it snows, cross country skiing is popular on the trails.
Spring kicks off in March with the flight of the Mourning Cloak butterfly and Yellow-rumped Warblers, and the sounds of wood frogs and Pine Warblers. As the spring progresses many nesting warblers begin to arrive including Yellow-throated, Prothonotary, Worm-eating, and Northern Parula. Wild Orchids can be found in some areas. Insect repellent is strongly recommended as the weather gets warmer.
Mountain Laurel, huckleberry and hackberry bloom in the understory. In addition to a variety of nesting warblers, many flycatchers reside in the park over the summer including Eastern Wood Pewee, Eastern Phoebe and Acadian Flycatcher. Enjoy the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds all summer long as they frequent the feeders by the nature center. Keep a sharp eye for five-lined skinks as they are often seen scurrying along the boardwalk of the nature trail. Late summer brings lots of butterflies around the nature center, including Appalachian brown, red spotted purple, monarch, cabbage white, orange sulphur, American lady, and painted lady. Monarchs lay eggs on milkweed. Bats feeding at dusk can be quite a show. Ticks and deer flies are a problem, especially in the north end of the park. Be prepared with insect repellant and a hat.
Although spring is the best time for warblers here, the fall offers a steady stream of fall migrants including American Redstart, Black-and-white Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Also, keep your eye out for migrating raptors and local Bald Eagles. Insect repellent is recommended in September. Dragonflies such as Needham’s skimmer and common whitetail are active through October. The leaves can be very pretty in some areas near the water. Many people come to the park if they have a leaf project, because of the great variety of tree species.