Sandy Hook is a 1,665 acre barrier beach peninsula at the northern tip of the New Jersey Shore. The park includes seven miles of ocean beaches, salt marshes, hiking trails and maritime holly forest. The Hook is home to the oldest surviving lighthouse in the U.S. and to Sandy Hook Bird Observatory. It also happens to be one of my favorite local birding and photographing locations. A major migration path in both spring and fall, Sandy Hook has attracted approximately 340 bird species to its varying habitats. Over 50 species of butterflies have also been recorded.
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For the last several years the good people at the Lakehurst Naval Air Force Base have commissioned a study of the breeding birds on the 7,000 acre base. The last 2 years I have assisted National Biodiversity Parks (NBP), a landtrust and environmental management firm in conducting the survey. The government uses the information from the study to help manage the grassland habitat within the base such as the timing of successional cutting and prescribed burns. Proper management promotes the breeding success of Upland Sandpipers and Grasshopper Sparrows. NBP has documented 10 pairs of Upland Sandpipers and 225 pairs of Grasshopper Sparrows on average each year. Many other species of birds and other animals have been documented on the base.
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