Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: June 8-9, 2013
Location: Basha Kill, Shawangunks NWR, Doodletown
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group of 11 birders left the Audubon Center on 23rd St. at 9am. The day before we left NYC had about 5 inches of rain and the forecast was iffy for our Saturday outing but on Saturday morning the skies were clear and 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 halfway up the entrance hill and encountered some great birds. First was a male Redstart quickly followed by a Hooded Warbler. The next bird was a Blue-winged Warbler. What a collection of warblers in the first 15 minutes of our walk. Also very close by was a male Indigo Bunting. We walked about 300 feet up the trail and heard a Worm-eating Warbler singing very loudly but we could find the bird. OK, we will give it a try later. Cerulean Warbler is quite common along Doodletown road and before we left Doodletown we would see a very nice male, high up, and then another male actually below eyelevel. What a treat for everyone. Walking on the road some more we heard and then saw a Pileated Woodpecker fly over us. We would see a total of four Pileated Woodpeckers on our weekend birding trip. It wasn’t the best of views but we were all satisfied. We continued seeing and hearing other birds like Scarlet Tanager and Red-eyed Vireo. When we reached the intersection of Doodletown Road and Lemon Road we had our second Worm-eating Warbler. This one gave us great views. Our group had lunch on the rocks overlooking the Doodletown reservoir and we were entertained by a singing Louisiana Waterthrush that flew by for a quick view. At about 12:30 we left this spot and headed towards our next destination, Baskakill. Making one stop along the way it would take us about one hour to get to this venue.
Our first stop at Basha Kill was along Haven Road. From this location one sees the awesome beauty of this 2500 acre preserve. At this spot we had very good looks at an Eastern Kingbird. We drove about ¼ mile to an area known as ‘the Orchard‘ where we saw a Chestnut-sided Warbler, Yellow Warbler and a singing Willow Flycatcher. Our group got back in the van and drove to the ‘Nature Trail’ parking lot. Here we had perfect views of the Virginia Rail, as the bird walked back and forth across the trail. Other birds present in this area were Yellow-throated Vireo and Baltimore Oriole. Next we went to the area known as the ‘Main Boat Launch’. Here we scoped a Bald Eagle nest, with young, and scoped an Osprey nest, also with young. We then took the trail going north and saw and heard a Least Flycatcher. Next was an uncooperative Common Moorhen. We heard the bird but only two of us had views. At about 5:30 we headed towards our hotel, the Day’s Inn of Wurtsboro. This is the seventh time we have made this trip to Basha Kill and the seventh 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 back to Haven Road for another chance to see the American Bittern. We were very lucky this time as we first heard the Bittern and then saw it fly out of the marsh. We all gave ourselves ‘high-fives’ and then continued to an area known for Whip-poor-wills. In front of number 218 Upper Pine Kill Road we heard a Whip-poor-will. The bird flew over us a once and then perched. But only two members of our group saw the flyover and no one saw it perched. We all heard its beautiful song and were satisfied with that as the bird flew back into the woods. We left this area and drove back to the hotel arriving back just before 10pm.
On Sunday, our second day, we would have breakfast at 6am and be on the van by 6:30am for birding. We drove about one mile to the McDonald Ave entrance to the D&H Canal. On the way to the canal we picked up Field Sparrow and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. In all my birding experiences the canal is still one of the most beautiful places to visit. The heavy rains and flooding from the previous fall, winter and the storm of the previous day removed the beaver dam and with it much of the material in the canal. Again, this year the canal was more like a slowly moving river than a marsh. A key target bird of the trip, Alder Flycatcher, breeds in this area. We were able to see him as he sang, flew over us and perched in a nearby tree. We walked both the south section and the north section of the canal. Other birds we would see here were: Pileated Woodpecker, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Pine Warbler, Green Heron and great views of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. 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 area is also extremely beautiful with an understory of Mountain Laurel. Here we would see different birds like Blackburnian Warbler and Black-throated Green Warbler. We would get fabulous views of an Acadian Flycatcher. In the area just before the small bridge we would have the Acadian Flycatcher singing and in the background Backburnian Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler and Louisiana Waterthrush were also singing. On a personal note this was the highlight of the trip for me. We drove to the top of the hill and saw Dark-eyed Junco, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and three more Backburnians singing along with a singing and very beautiful Black-throated Green Warbler. On a sadder note the area where the Blue-throated Blue Warbler was in past years has been replaced with a house. 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 Basha Kill marsh framed by the Shawangunk mountains. Everybody was very happy and 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 many Bobolinks in the fields, a Bluebird on the fence and Killdeer on the ground but we couldn’t locate the ‘Uppie’ . They were mowing parts of fields and maybe the birds moved to a different section. We scoped the fields in vain for the Upland Sandpiper. We when back into the van and drove about one mile to the entrance of Shawangunks NWR. This park has been completely redone. We are now allowed to drive into a concrete parking area and walk many grassland trails, and that is what we did. Here were would see many Bobolinks, a few Eastern Meadowlarks and a pair of Kestrels. 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 100 Bank Swallows flying around and entering the cavities that they created in a dirt bank. Again on a sad note the uncompleted subdivision has become active again with at least four home sites under construction. It is only a matter of time before this area is no longer suitable for Bank Swallows. It was about 3:45 and we decided to return to NYC. With one stop along the way we arrived back at 23rd St. at 6:30pm. 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