MORTON NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Noyac Road, Sag Harbor, NY
Take the Belt (Cross Island) Parkway to exit 25A. From there go east about 73 miles, first on the Southern State Parkway to exit 44, then on Route 27 (which starts as Sunrise Highway, but changes name). In Tuckahoe, turn north (left) on Route 52 or 38 (they will come together). Go north to North Sea, then northeast on Noyack Road (still Route 38), about 7 miles in all; the refuge driveway is on the left.
The rugged and windswept peninsula that makes up most of the Morton refuge projects two miles into Noyack and Peconic bays.
A low sandy-and-pebbly beach providing excellent views of the two bays is open only along the left, or west, side. This section of the preserve is believed to be a tombolo, or sandbar connecting an island to the mainland. If one looks north up the beach, a series of high bluffs can be seen. That area is thought to have been one of the islands that, since the glacial retreat, was connected to the mainland by the long-term deposition of sand and gravel.
The beach is presently the site of a small colony of least terns, a diminutive and easily disturbed bird that has been steadily, and in some cases drastically, disappearing from much of its former range. Ironically, the least tern staged a strong comeback from the 1920s to the 1950s after it had been hunted relentlessly for the turn-of-the-century milinery trade. Future uncertain.
Jessup's Neck is a high wooded section thought to be one of the peninsula's two former islands now connected by stable sandbars.
Bluffs up to 50 feet high line the beach front from the north side of the brackish pond to near the flattened sandy spit at the very end of the peninsula. One geological theory proposes that a lobe of the main ice sheet acted as a kind of bulldozer and pushed up this section of the peninsula. It may also be that a second tombolo eventually connected the two wooded "islands."
The are was once known as Farrington Point. John Farrington was the founder of Southampton.
1679 -- John Jessup obtained ownership of the property and the area
came to be known as Jessup's Neck. The grave of his daughter, Abigail, is found
in the refuge.
1800 -- Isaac Osborn bought the land. He introduced mulberry bushes, apple and Bartlett pear trees, the raising of silkworms, merino sheep, and short-horned cattle.
Scalloping in these bays between the North and South forks of Long Island was an important business.
1954 -- Elizabeth Morton donated the land to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
(Source: Raymond Spinzia, et. al. 1988; Geffen and Berglie, 1996: Chapter 24)
Protected coves and on a brackish pond. A variety of vegetation can also be found, ranging from oak-hickory woods to saltwater grasses and beach plum.
swimming and picnicking on the extensive beach
One mile nature loop trail.
Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus stellata (post oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Shrubs and sub-shrubs:
Lonicera sp. (honeysuckle)
Lonicera tatarica (Tatarian honeysuckle)
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Smilax sp. (greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)