Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: June 9-10, 2018
Location: Basha Kill, Shawangunks NWR, Doodletown
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group of 10 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. 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 American Redstart. Everyone had good looks. Next came the Cerulean Warbler, a key target bird at this location. This bird is a very common breeder here and we would see and hear many of them. Other great birds seen were: Hooded Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo and Blue-winged Warbler. 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 and never missed. 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 until we 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 played the tape and the Virginia Rail came out of the marsh and walked up on the trail. A great view had by all. Also in the marsh at this spot we saw two Common Moorhens and three of their chicks. Just we were about to leave this area we heard and then saw a beautiful male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The bird put on a great show and everybody had excellent looks. We made another stop at the “Main Boat Launch” parking lot and had great views of the Bald Eagle, adult. At about 5pm we headed towards our hotel, the Day’s Inn of Wurtsboro. This is the eleventh time we have made this trip to Bashakill and the eleventh 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 and they were waiting for us.
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. 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. A very strange place for the bird to be but there it was. 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. There seems to be some development there and it may not be as good as in prior years. A key target bird of this area, Alder Flycatcher, breeds in this area. The bird was very agreeable and we heard and saw it very easily. It flew back and forth over the canal perching so everyone had good looks. We walked the canal seeing and hearing common birds like Yellow Warbler and Wood Thrush. I tried to call in the Pileated Woodpecker but no luck. Running water is the preferred habitat for the Louisiana Waterthrush and after a few minutes we found a very cooperative one that perched very close to our group. We also recorded: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Pine warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and many Veeries. At about 10am we left this spot and traveled 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, all three target birds of the trip. 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 we had excellent looks. Next we got fabulous views of an Acadian Flycatcher. It came right in to us and perched only about 15 feet away. 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 two years ago 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 second 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. 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 some numbers. It was the only target bird that escaped our group.
Now for the Henslow’s. At the indicated location, now roped off, were many birders just looking and looking. There were many people some saying that they had been waiting for two hours. Well, we were very lucky. We got to the spot and the bird popped right up! A great view, plus it was singing. It was a “lifer” for most 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 only two Bank Swallows flying around and entering the cavities that they created in a dirt bank. This was the lowest number we ever recorded. The area where their cavities are seemed to be degraded into only 8 holes. This way be the last year for this spot. 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 86 species, 14 warbler species, 7 flycatcher 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 - 86