Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: June 11-12, 2016
Location: Basha Kill, Shawangunks NWR, Doodletown
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group of 11 birders left the NYC Audubon Headquarters at 9am. We were headed for a weekend of birding in Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster counties. The weather forecast for the weekend was generally good except we might have some morning showers. 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 saw some great birds. Our first bird was a very cooperative Indigo Bunting. The bird showed itself very well and sang almost continuously. We continued to walk along the trail seeking other birds. We kept hearing a Cerulean Warbler but seeing it proved a little hard. Things changed and two male Cerulean flew over us and perched. Good views for everyone. We walked some more seeing and hearing: Red-eyed Vireo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and many Cedar Waxwings. Along the trail we also saw a key bird of the trip, the Worm-eating Warbler. The bird sang for us and put on a nice show. It was previously reported that a male Kentucky Warbler was further down on the trail so we headed in that direction. We were slowed by a brief shower but luckily it only lasted about 20 minutes. Right after the shower the birds did more singing and it became very pleasant. Along the trail we picked up a nice Louisiana Waterthrush and then another key bird of the trip the beautiful Hooded Warbler. Other birds seen were: Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Baltimore Oriole. We got to the Kentucky Warbler spot but the bird was a no-show. The compensation was another Hooded Warbler and good views of a Blue-winged Warbler and a flyover Pileated Woodpecker. 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 compensation was many excellent looks at a Pileated Woodpecker and a heard Swamp Sparrow. 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 along the edge. Unlike other years it did not walk across the path but everyone was happy with the looks. It was a “lifer” for many in our group. Other birds present in this area were Yellow-throated Vireo, Veery and Baltimore Oriole. We made another stop at the “main boat launch” to pick up the Least Flycatcher. The bird was on the left side of the area not the usual spot but everyone got to see the bird. At about 5:30 we headed towards our hotel, the Day’s Inn of Wurtsboro. This is the tenth time we have made this trip to Bashakill and the tenth 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. The bird was distant but its song was unmistakable. . While at this location we gave the Whip-poor-will 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 waited to hear and see the bird but it was a no-show. Things were different at this location this year with a usual unoccupied house filled with lights, people and noise. No Whip-poor-will this year. 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. Some people come on this trip just to see how beautiful an old canal running through a wooded area can be. A key target bird of this area, Alder Flycatcher, breeds in this area. We got the Alder as soon as we exited the van. The bird was singing in the field right next to us. Everyone got a good view. Next we walked the north section of the canal and saw two more Alder Flycatchers almost immediately. Walking a little along the trail we saw a Northern Waterthrush, another flyover Pileated Woodpecker and two beautiful Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Also along the canal were Green Heron and a flyby Belted Kingfisher. We were entertained by many Rough-winged Swallows as they darted up and down the canal. After about one hour we left this section of the canal and birded the southern section on the canal. Birds seen here were: Purple Finch, Blue-winged Warbler, Wood Thrush. 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. Bonus birds we saw on Gumaer Falls Road were: Winter Wren, Pine Warbler and Brown Creeper. On a personal note this was the highlight of the trip for me as they are my favorite warbler and favorite flycatcher. 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. We added Bald Eagle and Osprey to our list. 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 grassland and they have installed a viewing platform. Here were would see many Bobolinks and a few Eastern Meadowlarks. On top of the large bird boxes were two American Kestrels, probably breeders in the park. A new addition to this area is the Grasshopper Sparrow. The bird was once common here then missing and has now returned. We heard the bird but were able to only get so-so looks. Talk about a bird that likes to skulk, it was only about 5 feet in front of us but almost impossible to see. 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 10 Bank Swallows flying around and entering the cavities that they created in a dirt bank. On a sad note last year we saw about 50 swallows. 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 in NYC at just about 6:30pm. Summing up our totals we saw 89 species, 7 flycatcher species, 15 warbler species and 3 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