Cherry, one of our earliest blooming ornamentals, next to a star magnolia, Conference House Park
As the winter snow melts away and the first buds of spring begin to emerge, Staten Island comes alive with a vibrant array of flora and fauna. For naturalists, this is a prime season to explore the unique ecosystem of the island, which offers a diverse range of habitats and species.
One of the most remarkable features of Staten Island in the spring is its extensive parkland. With over 9,000 acres of public parks, naturalists have a vast playground to explore. The Staten Island Greenbelt alone boasts over 2,800 acres of preserved forest, wetlands, and meadows. Here, one can find a rich diversity of plant life, including oak, maple, hickory, and dogwood trees, as well as numerous wildflowers such as the trillium and jack-in-the-pulpit.
As the days grow longer and warmer, Staten Island’s wildlife also becomes more active. Spring is a prime time to observe a variety of different species, including migratory birds, butterflies, and amphibians. The Staten Island Greenbelt is once again a fantastic location for observing these creatures, with a variety of different habitats ranging from wetlands to woodlands. Here, naturalists can observe migratory birds such as warblers and thrushes, as well as native species like the red-tailed hawk and the great blue heron. The greenbelt’s ponds and streams are also home to a variety of amphibians, including the American bullfrog and the spotted salamander.
The wetlands and shoreline of Staten Island also provide a unique opportunity for naturalists to observe marine life. The island is home to several estuaries, including the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull, which are important habitats for fish, crabs, and other aquatic creatures. Staten Island’s beaches are also a prime spot for observing shorebirds, such as sandpipers and plovers, as well as seals and dolphins.
For those who love hiking and exploring the great outdoors, Staten Island’s many trails and parks offer endless opportunities to enjoy the spring weather. Whether you’re exploring the Greenbelt’s many trails, hiking to the top of Todt Hill, or simply strolling along the beach at Great Kills Park, there is no shortage of outdoor adventures to be had on Staten Island in the spring.
In conclusion, Staten Island in the spring is a paradise for naturalists. With its extensive parkland, diverse wildlife, and unique ecosystem, the island offers a wealth of opportunities to explore and observe the wonders of the natural world. Whether one is a seasoned naturalist or a curious beginner, there is something for everyone to discover on Staten Island.
Hillel Lofaso, Spring 2023