Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: June 10-11, 2017
Location: Basha Kill, Shawangunks NWR, Doodletown
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group of 11 birders left the NYC Audubon Headquarters at 8am. 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 singing Indigo Bunting. Everyone had good looks. Next came the American Redstart. This bird is a very common breeder here and we would see many of them. Walking down the trail we then saw two of our target birds: Cerulean Warbler and Hooded Warbler. Each one gave us good looks. We walked until we reached Lemon Road, a known spot for Worm-eating Warbler. Within a few minutes we located the bird and he gave us good looks with plenty of song. We walked further along the trail coming upon a small brook that empties into the reservoir. Here we saw and heard the Louisiana Waterthrush. The bird put on a good show for everyone to see and hear. 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, a regular here. Next we walked the “Stop Sign” trail looking for the Virginia Rail. We took some time looking for the rail but we never found it. Our compensation was many excellent look at Veery and Swamp Sparrow. We left this spot and drove along South Road passing a house with many feeders. We saw about 25 American Goldfinches and a beautiful Rose-breasted Grosbeak. We continued on the road and arrived at the “Horseshoe parking lot”. We had been successful in finding the Virginia Rail in this area a few years ago. Walking in about ¼ mile we were again not successful. Maybe the water level was too high? There had been a lot of rain recently. Our compensation in this area was: Least Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Veery and Baltimore Oriole. We made another stop at the “Main Boat Launch” parking lot 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 5pm 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 6:15 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 we went next door to “Custer’s Last Stand” for an ice cream dessert. 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 heard 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, but no response. We used to go to 218 Upper Pine Kill Road, a reliable Whip-poor-will spot but because of changes along the road the bird has not been reported there anymore. A new spot was suggested, at the end of Haven Road where it meets road 209. We got out of the van and heard the bird but never saw it. It gets recorded as heard. We returned to the hotel a little after 9pm.
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. This year the bird was a no show. In compensation we did get good looks at both Louisiana Waterthrush and Northern Waterthrush. We heard both of them and compared their songs. The Louisiana was near running water while the Northern was more interior in the forest probably close to a pool of still water. Along the Canal we saw and heard many other species. We recorded: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler and many Veeries. 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: Scarlet Tanager, Dark-eyed Junco and Brown Creeper. On a personal note Gumaer Falls Road was the highlight of the trip for me as the Blackburnian and Acadian are among my favorite birds. 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. 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, where a viewing platform has been installed. There were reports of a very special bird at the “Gunks”. For the first time ever a Henslow’s Sparrow was being seen and heard. We put the Henslow’s at the top of our target list. Before getting to the Henslow’s reported spot, in the middle of the grasslands, we saw many Bobolinks and a few Eastern Meadowlarks. Also on top of a large bird box we saw an American Kestrel. It was reported to me that five pairs of Kestrels were nesting at the “Gunks”, each in a bird box and each with eggs. A relatively new addition to the “Gunks” is the Grasshopper Sparrow. The bird was once common here, then went missing and has now returned and in good numbers. We saw a couple of them and heard even more Grasshopper Sparrows singing.
Now for the Henslow’s. At the reported spot we first saw and heard a beautiful Dickcissel. That was a bonus. We waited and waited for the Henslow’s and then it popped up, sang, and then disappeared again into the thick grasslands. It was a “lifer” for everyone and everyone got a got view. 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 housing subdivision 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. I hope that they do not disturb this area with any more development. 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 83 species, 15 warbler species, 6 flycatcher species and 3 vireo species. It was a great trip enjoyed by all.
Great Blue Heron
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 83