|End of Lighthouse Rd., Maurice River Township, NJ |
Phone: (856) 327-3714
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Go back out Matt’s Landing Rd.
and turn Right onto CR 616 Main St. Turn Right onto East Point Rd. and follow to end. Map
Open daily from dawn to dusk. Parking available on site.
The biting wind blowing in off the bay can make for frigid temperatures but a visit to the lighthouse in winter can yield some exceptional birds. Scan the bay for scoters, scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Snow Geese and loons. You can actually bird this spot from the comfort of your vehicle if the temperatures are just too cold. On warmer days, venture onto the lighthouse grounds for a good look through the shrub/scrub and cedars. Many winter sparrows take shelter in the thick brush. Don’t miss a careful scan of the marsh for a Rough-legged Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, or
The red cedars surrounding the lighthouse come alive with migrating songbirds looking for
a place to rest after their long flight across the bay. Flickers, kinglets, warblers, thrushes, and sparrows are all frequently seen. Shorebirds gather on the beach amongst hundreds of
horseshoe crabs to feast on the protein-rich eggs before continuing their migration to their nesting ground in the Arctic. Fishermen fish for stripers and weakfish from the beach and along the
Listen for the complex burble and hiss of the Seaside Sparrow’s call as it announces its claim on its territory. Willet, Clapper Rail, and Red-winged Blackbird add their voices to the summer sounds of the East Point marsh as well as the harsh, nasal wronk of the Great Blue Heron. Look for diamondback terrapins to come ashore in July to lay their eggs in the sand or soft dirt above the high tide line.
Fall is undoubtedly the best season to visit East Point. Many migrants fly back up the bayshore from Cape May looking for a narrower passage over Delaware Bay. This makes for great birding along the bay. Raptors and songbirds can be seen by the thousands on good days —
usually following a cold front — and rare visitors are not uncommon. The monarch butterfly migration is spectacular in itself. In a good year, hundreds of butterflies float past on gossamer wings.
The East Point Lighthouse and the surrounding marsh are part of Heislerville WMA. East Point Light was constructed in 1849, making it the second oldest lighthouse still standing in New Jersey. Deactivated in 1941 during World War II, it was later reactivated in 1980 and is currently the only functioning “onshore” lighthouse on the Delaware Bay. The Maurice River Historical Society restored the lighthouse and it is open for tours only on certain days from April to October. A boat ramp provides access to the Maurice River and Delaware Bay. The grounds
of the lighthouse and its location at the mouth
of the Maurice River make it an ideal spot
for watching wildlife. Visitors can obtain maps
of Heislerville WMA on the Division of
Fish and Wildlife’s website at
|East Point Lighthouse||Laurie Pettigrew
the fall gathering and migration of the monarch butterfly at this site.
The lighthouse is open to the public on the 3rd Sunday of the month from April to October from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Maurice River Historical Society’s Annual Open House is the first Saturday in August from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with craft vendors, music, food and artists. The lighthouse is also open the 1st
weekend in June from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. for Delaware Bay Days. Call ahead or check the
website to confirm visiting hours.
The beach is difficult to reach at high tide but well worth the effort and wet feet. Look for fiddler crabs along the interface of beach and salt marsh. The crabs dig burrows in the soft mud of the marsh. Inspect the beach for unique shells, sea glass and fossilized sharks’ teeth.