Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: June 8-9, 2019
Location: Basha Kill, Shawangunks NWR, Doodletown
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Chee has provided us with a pictorial history of our trip: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AoyYqvh0v7-PgbMpkygt0RiVFOpuMg
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 very 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 Worm-eating Warbler. 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. We saw many great other birds at Doodletown, including: Hooded Warbler, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager and Yellow-throated Vireo. A special bird was the Pileated Woodpecker. We saw two of them very close and they provided excellent views. We had lunch at the reservoir being entertained by the Cuckoo and by the Eastern Kingbirds. 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 last year. We walked in about ¼ mile but no Virginia Rail. It was said that they were very quiet and probably on a second nesting as the first nesting may have been washed away in the heavy rains in the area. Also in the marsh at this spot we heard Common Moorhens. The parking lot at the horseshoe area was also excellent. We saw and heard: Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Least Flycatcher and Cerulean Warbler. At about 5pm we headed towards our hotel, the Day’s Inn of Wurtsboro. This is the twelfth time we have made this trip to Bashakill and the twelfth 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. We went to a spot where we had some success with whip-poor-wills in the past. We drove to the end of Haven Road where it meets road 209. The bird was singing when we got there. Everyone got out of the van and by luck the bird flew right over us. Strange place for a whip-poor-will but there it was. It was a “lifer” for some. 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. Unfortunately there have been many changes in this area, some manmade and others done by nature. The fields were stripped and many trees were removed. As for nature, a beaver has made a dam on the canal resulting in a pond. The water was fairly deep and prevented us from accessing the north end of the canal. We walked the south end but the birding was very light resulting in just Chestnut-sided warblers and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. A key target bird of this area, Alder Flycatcher, was not heard or seen. Running water is the preferred habitat for the Louisiana Waterthrush. This bird also was a no show. After an hour at this spot we left 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. We actually saw or heard over 5 Blackburnian Warblers, 2 Black-throated Greens and about 4 Acadian Flycatchers. Other birds seen or heard were: Pine Warbler, Eastern Wood Pewee and heard in the distance was a Pileated Woodpecker. At about 11am we left this area, checked out of the hotel and headed for another shot at the Virginia Rail. No Luck. We went to 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, with great views of an adult Bald Eagle on a nest. 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 three 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. We had three target birds: Grasshopper Sparrow, Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark. Within 30 minutes we had all three. A relatively new addition to the “Gunks” is the Grasshopper Sparrow. They were numerous and perched right on the sign that said welcome to Shawangunks NWR. The Bobolinks were very numerous and the males were doing numerous flight displays. The Meadowlarks were a little harder to see but we finally got good looks and good photos. Also in a distant tree we saw an American Kestrel.
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 maybe close by. We drove about a mile to an uncompleted housing subdivision off of Albany Post Road and Galeville Road. Every year, because of development, the colony has been getting smaller and smaller. Last year we recorded only two birds. This year the colony was gone. It was about 3:30 and we decided to return to NYC. We arrived back in NYC at just about 6pm. Summing up our totals we saw 76 species, 13 warbler species, 5 flycatcher species, 5 sparrow 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 - 76