Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: June 13-14, 2015
Location: Basha Kill, Shawangunks NWR, Doodletown
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group of 11 birders was all excited about our upstate birding trip to Sullivan, Rockland and Ulster counties. The weather forecast for the weekend was good and by 9am we were on our way. 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. We immediately sought out the Cerulean Warbler. Within 5 minutes we had excellent looks. Next in quick succession was an Indigo Bunting, then an American Redstart then a Baltimore Oriole. We walked about ¼ mile and found a male Scarlet Tanager and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. We continued to walk along the trail seeking other birds. We kept hearing a Hooded Warbler. Some in our group got views but not the “drop dead kind”. We had information that a male Kentucky Warbler was singing on the trail but further down. Knowing that it was a “lifer” for many we went for a chase. After about a half hour we located the spot and heard and saw the Kentucky Warbler. It was well worth it. Another great bird of the Doodletown area was the Worm-eating Warbler. This little bird has the habit of nesting in basically the scrub that it nested in last year. We went to the spot where it saw it last year and there it was again this year. 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. 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 a Chestnut-sided Warbler and Yellow Warbler. Next we walked the “Stop Sign” trail looking for Virginia Rail. It took some time but there was no rail. Our group got back in the van and drove to the “Nature Trail” parking lot. No rail there either. We went to the “South Road Parking #8”. We had been successful in this area a few years ago. Walking in about ¼ mile we were successful. The Virginia Rail came out of the marsh and walked across the trail. Great view for everyone. It was a “lifer” for many in our group. Other birds present in this area were Yellow-throated Vireo and Baltimore Oriole. At about 5:30 we headed towards our hotel, the Day’s Inn of Wurtsboro. This is the ninth time we have made this trip to Bashakill and the ninth 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. At the same time we heard the calling of a Barred Owl. No luck in seeing either bird. We had to be satisfied with their calls. 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. A key target bird of this area, Alder Flycatcher, breeds in this area. We were able to call in the Alder Flycatcher and everyone got a good view. Next we walked the north section of the canal. Interestingly we heard and saw both Northern Waterthrush and Louisiana Waterthrush. It was the first time that we had both species on this trip. Other birds we saw here were: Pileated Woodpecker, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Veery. We walked the south section of the trail picking up 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. This is the best spot that I know of for Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher. This area is also extremely beautiful with an understory of Mountain Laurel. Within 45 minutes we had seen all three. We got fabulous views of the Blackburnian Warbler. It was right where it was supposed to be in a Hemlock tree. The Black-throated Green Warbler was very close and both could be seen at the same time. Next we got fabulous views of an Acadian Flycatcher. It came right in to us and perched only about 15 feet away. In the area just before the small bridge we had another Acadian Flycatcher singing and in the background Blackburnian Warbler also was singing. On a personal note this was the highlight of the trip for me as they are my favorite warbler and favorite flycatcher. We drove to the top of the hill and saw 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 and Killdeer on the ground but we couldn’t locate the “Uppie.” It was a big miss. They seem to have a different mowing schedule at Blue Chip Farms and that might have changed the habitat and the timing as to when to see the Upland Sandpiper. 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. A new addition to this area is the Grasshopper Sparrow. We were able to get good looks. This bird was a “lifer” for many. 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. Summing up our totals we saw 89 species, 7 flycatcher species, 16 warbler species and 4 vireo species. It was a great trip enjoyed by all.
Great Blue Heron
Great Crested Flycatcher
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 89