Deer Park Preserve
Borough: Staten Island
Habitat Type: Forest
Kettle holes, steep hills and large boulders in Deere Park are marks of glacial movement from the last Ice Age, which ended about 12,000 years ago. The variety of soils deposited during the glacier’s passage allowed a diversity of plant and animal species to inhabit the region. Today, these areas function as resting places for migratory birds. A thick oak (Quercus spp.) forest dominates the property, with an undergrowth speckled by azaleas and wild blueberries (Vaccinius spp..) The Blue Trail, one of the four major hiking trails of the Staten Island Greenbelt, begins at the entrance located at the bottom of Staten Island Boulevard and leads hikers all the way up the hill to one of the highest points on the eastern seaboard.
Many owls frequent this site, including the screech owl (Otus asio), saw whet owl (Aegolius acadicus), great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), and the barn owl (Tyto alba). Occasionally, a barred owl (Strix varia) from the south will venture this far north. This bird is known as the “Southern Gentleman” because it makes the distinct sound suggestive of “who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all.” Bats come here for shelter and food, and the swamp’s ample insect population helps satisfy their appetite; in one year, the average bat consumes fifty times its body weight in insects.
Public Transit:The S60, S53 (from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn) and S93 stop at Clove Road and Howard Ave. Walk south over the expressway on Clove Road and turn right onto Ocean Terrace and precede uphill past the Michael J. Petrides School. The preserve entrance is on the right at Staten Island Boulevard, just beyond the Petrides Educational Complex.
By Car: From the Staten Island Expressway (278) from Brooklyn, exit onto Narrows Road N. After the traffic light at Clove Road follow one additional traffic light and turn left. Proceed under highway and turn left and then right. Petrides School will be on the right side. The preserve is located on the right at Staten Island Boulevard, just beyond the Petrides Educational Complex. From 278 toward Brooklyn, exit onto Clove Rd Exit. Turn left at the light and left at the following two lights. At the first stop sign make a left and then bear right on to ocean terrace, taking the first right turn after the traffic light. This will be Staten Island Boulevard. Park near the end of the street to find the trail head.