Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: June 14-15, 2014
Location: Basha Kill, Shawangunks NWR, Doodletown
Reported by: Joe Giunta
After having an excellent spring migration in the New York City area our group of 11 birders were excited to see some of these birds again in the upstate counties of Sullivan, Rockland and Ulster. We left the Audubon Center on 23rd St. at 9am. The weather forecast for the weekend was good. After about one hour and fifteen minutes, with one stop along the way, we reached our first destination, Doodletown. We walked 300 feet up the entrance hill and encountered some great birds. First bird seen was a beautiful Yellow-throated Vireo. Next in quick succession was an Indigo Bunting, then an American Redstart then a Baltimore Oriole. Overhead we located Black and Turkey Vultures plus a Red-tailed Hawk. We walked about ¼ mile and found a male Scarlet Tanager and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. The “holy trinity” of warblers in Doodletown is Cerulean Warbler, Hooded Warbler and Worm-eating Warbler. So far nothing on these birds. Then in a flash everything changed. We had a singing Worm-eating Warbler very close. After a few minutes the Worm-eating made a very nice appearance. Everyone got good looks. We left this bird and walked down the trail until we reached the spot where Lemon Road intersects the path. Here we had excellent looks at Cerulean Warbler. Almost right away we found a male Hooded Warbler. Beneath this bird was another Worm-eating Warbler. Within 15 minutes we had seen all three special birds. Our group had lunch on the rocks overlooking the Doodletown reservoir and we were entertained by a Baltimore Oriole. At about 12:30 we left this spot and headed towards our next destination, Baskakill. Before boarding the van we looked at the end of the trail, where there’s a small waterfall, and heard and saw a Louisiana Waterthrush. Making one stop along the way it took us about one hour to get to Bashakill.
Our first stop at Bashakill was at the “Orchard” parking lot. At this spot we had very good looks at an Eastern Kingbird. Other birds present were Chestnut-sided Warbler and Yellow Warbler. Now came what some of our group said was their favorite. We walked the “Stop Sign” trail looking for Virginia Rail. It took some time but we all had excellent looks at the rail as it walked across the trail. It was a “lifer” for many in our group. Our group got back in the van and drove to the “Nature Trail” parking lot. Here we had views of an uncooperative Least Flycatcher. Other birds present in this area were Yellow-throated Vireo and Baltimore Oriole. Next we went to the area known as the “Main Boat Launch.” Here we scoped a Bald Eagle nest, with young, and scoped an Osprey nest, also with young. At about 5:30 we headed towards our hotel, the Day’s Inn of Wurtsboro. This is the eighth time we have made this trip to Bashakill and the eighth time that we have used this hotel. I highly recommend it as it is very clean, quiet and perfectly placed to maximize birding in the area. At 6:30 we left the hotel and had dinner at a local restaurant, Danny’s.
We had reservations for dinner and they were ready for us when we arrived. After dinner, at 8pm, we went out to do some nighttime birding. We boarded the van and drove to Haven Road for a chance to see the American Bittern. We were lucky to hear the Bittern although we never saw it. There were actually two bitterns singing, maybe answering each other. While at this location we gave the Whip-poor-wills a chance to sing. No such luck here. Back into the van and a 5 minute ride to Upper Pine Kill Road, a very reliable Whip-poor-will spot. In front of number 218 Upper Pine Kill Road we heard a Whip-poor-will. The bird flew over us at once and then perched. Many of us saw the bird fly over even some seeing the beautiful eyes of the bird. The bird flew over again within 5 feet of us. We all heard its beautiful song and were satisfied with that as the bird flew back into the woods. We left this area and drove back to the hotel arriving back just before 10pm.
On Sunday, our second day, we had breakfast at 6am and were on the van by 6:30am for birding. We drove about one mile to the McDonald Ave entrance to the D&H Canal. In all my birding experiences the canal is still one of the most beautiful places to visit. Again, this year the canal was more like a slowly moving river than a marsh. A key target bird of this area, Alder Flycatcher, breeds in this area. The Alder Flycatcher was a distant view and not satisfying. First we walked the north section of the canal. Other birds we saw here were: Pileated Woodpecker, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Veery. Then came the biggest surprise of the trip. While searching for a better view of the Alder Flycatcher we picked up good views of a Golden-winged Warbler. This is the first time since 2010 that this species has been recorded at this venue. We also picked up better views of the Alder Flycatcher and added the Blue-winged Warbler. At about 10:30 we left this spot and traveled about one mile to Gumaer Falls Road. This road goes up the mountain to a height of about 1500 feet and into a Pine-Hemlock forest. The first birds seen were Pine Warbler and Black-throated Blue Warbler. This area is also extremely beautiful with an understory of Mountain Laurel. Here we saw different birds like Blackburnian Warbler and Black-throated Green Warbler. We got fabulous views of an Acadian Flycatcher. In the area just before the small bridge we had the Acadian Flycatcher singing and in the background Backburnian Warbler. On a personal note this was the highlight of the trip for me. We drove to the top of the hill and missed birds such as Dark-eyed Junco and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. We did hear a distant Brown Creeper but it never appeared. At about 12 noon we left this area, checked out of the hotel and headed towards a local deli for sandwiches and a lunch break. We ate lunch at a nice spot in the “Main Boat Launch” parking area taking in the beautiful view of Bashakill marsh framed by the Shawangunk mountains. Everybody was very happy just reviewing the great birds seen so far. We had one more spot to go to.
We headed towards our last venue, Shawangunks NWR. It would take us just under one hour to reach this venue. Just before reaching the “Gunks” we had a stop at Blue Chip horse farm. Here we scoped the fields looking for a key bird of the trip, the Upland Sandpiper. There were some Bobolinks in the fields, a Bluebird on the fence and Killdeer on the ground but we couldn’t locate the “Uppie.” We were looking on the right side of Bates Lane, no sandpiper. Then one of our group looked to the left side of Bates Lane, not the usual spot for this bird, and buried in the grass was the Upland Sandpiper. A great find! We went back into the van and drove about one mile to the entrance of Shawangunks NWR. This park has been completely redone and I add beautifully redone. We are now allowed to drive into a concrete parking area just inside the grasslands. Here were would see many Bobolinks and a few Eastern Meadowlarks. One pole had been placed in good view of the parking lot and on top of the pole was a beautiful Meadowlark, singing. It started to get late so just like last year and the year before that we again had information that a colony of Bank Swallows was close by. We drove about a mile to an uncompleted subdivision development off of Albany Post Road and Galeville Road. Here we saw over 50 Bank Swallows flying around and entering the cavities that they created in a dirt bank. On a sad note the uncompleted subdivision has become active again with many home sites under construction. It is only a matter of time before this area is no longer suitable for Bank Swallows. It was about 3:30 and we decided to return to NYC. With one stop along the way we arrived back at 23rd St. just before at 6pm. It was a great trip enjoyed by all.
Great Blue Heron
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 87