Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: June 18-19, 2016
Location: Neversink, Sterling Forest, Bashakill, Shawangunks NWR
Reported by: Joe Giunta
It was a fantastic weekend of birds, bird song and beautiful vistas. Our group of 11 birders left from the NYC Audubon headquarters on 23rd St at 9am. Our first stop was the Sterling Forest visitor’s center. First bird seen outside the van was a Cedar Waxwing. This was followed by a singing Indigo Bunting. Nice way to start. We drove to Ironwood Drive which goes deep into the 20,000 acres of protected land of Sterling Forest. We exited the van about halfway along the road to hear and see a Yellow-throated Vireo. Also present but hard to see was a singing Hooded Warbler. Overhead flew a very nice Broad-winged Hawk. Back into the van we arrived at the end of the road and a power line cut. It provides for nice habitat for low shrubby birds like the Golden-winged Warbler. Unfortunately the Golden-wing was a no-show. As compensation we picked up: Yellow-billed Cuckoo (flyover), Yellow Warbler, American Redstart and Baltimore Oriole. After about 2 hours we went back to the visitor’s center, had lunch and prepared for the one hour ride to Bashakill.
Arriving at Bashakill we started at the “stop sign trail.” Bashakill is so big (2500 acres) and they have so many trails it is hard to know where to start. This trail has worked well for birding in the past and again worked just fine. First bird was a singing Alder Flycatcher. It was a “lifer” for many in our group. Walking the trail we picked up a Veery and a Black-and-white Warbler. We were looking for a Virginia Rail but at least at this spot the rail was a no-show. Back into the van and we headed for the “big rocks” parking lot. Walking in about 500 feet we heard the Virginia Rail. As a matter of fact we heard about 3 Virginia Rails, all of which decided to remain unseen. It started to get late and we wanted more birds. Our group went to the “main boat launch” area. Here we heard and saw very well the Least Flycatcher. It is one of my favorite birds. It has so much power in its song for such a little bird. Everyone took notice of the song and the large eye ring that this bird has. Next we headed to the Day’s Inn of Wurtsboro. We have used this hotel over 10 times. It is clean, quiet and perfectly located for birding in this area.
Dinner was at 6:30 at Danny’s, the local hotspot. We had a reservation and when we arrived they were ready for us. After dinner we went next door, Custer’s Last Stand, for an ice cream dessert. At 8:30 we went out for some nighttime birding. Our group went to Haven Road. The moon was almost full and it made for a very memorable sight. Out of the van, we almost immediately heard the American Bittern. Again another hear’em but no see’em. We walked Haven Road trying to pick up the song of the Whip-poor-will. No luck with that but we did hear many frogs. We boarded the van and headed back to the hotel. Then at the intersection of Haven Road and route 209 we heard a Whip-poor-will. We got out of the van hoping to see the bird but we had to settle with just the heard. We arrived back at the hotel just before 10pm and prepared for our next day.
We were up early for a 6am breakfast. The hotel grounds started to come alive with bird song. We heard and saw: Pine Warbler, Goldfinch, Phoebe and Chipping Sparrow. Looking at the mailbox we saw a House Wren carrying food in and then out. It was a very nice view. At 6:45 (delayed because of all the birds on the hotel grounds) we headed towards Neversink, Cold Spring access. It took about one half hour to reach this spot. The van door opened and we were met with a ton of bird song. Seen and heard were: Blue-headed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Black-and-white Warbler. We were surrounded by singing Ovenbirds. They were on the right, the left and just about all over. Walking the trail we saw a very beautiful Black-throated Green Warbler. A little further down the trail we saw a Blackburnian Warbler. Next came a very cooperative Hermit Thrush. The beauty of the place and the songs heard will be with us for a long time. In the distance we heard a Pileated Woodpecker. Another heard but not seen bird. We stayed in this area about 2 hours, then drove to another section of Neversink. It took about 25 minutes to get to Wolf Brook access of Neversink. A short walk down to the brook produced a very cooperative Black-throated Blue Warbler. We also saw a Chestnut-sided warbler who had just taken a bath and was drying off. We drove into the power line cut and saw fields of blooming pinkish-white Mountain Laurel. Just beautiful! Birds present here were: Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, Goldfinch, Prairie Warbler and Common Yellowthroat. Overhead were two Ravens, flying and calling. The Field Sparrow, Prairie Warbler and Goldfinch were all in the same small leafless tree at the same time. They looked like Christmas tree ornaments. We stayed until about 11:30 and then headed back to our hotel to pick up our stuff and go to lunch.
We picked up sandwiches at Home Town Deli on route 209 and went to the “main boat launch” to eat and take in the views of the Bashakill. Birds present were Bald Eagle and Osprey. Two good checks for the trip. After lunch we headed to Gumaer Falls Road for some special birds. At the lower part of the road we heard a Black-throated Blue Warbler. Further up the road we got out of the van, right next to some Hemlock trees, and first heard and then saw a fantastic male Blackburnian Warbler. It was a thrill for everyone. We drove about a half mile, got out of the van again, this time to hear and see a beautiful Acadian Flycatcher. For me these two birds were the highlight of the entire trip. Back in the van, we drove almost the top of the mountain. Here we heard several more Blackburnians combined with some Black-throated Green Warblers. We also had a very cooperative Junco flying around us. We had a little more time so I took the group down the valley to the D&H Canal. This has to be one of the most beautiful places in all of NY State. The most interesting bird found here was singing the song of a Blue-winged Warbler but when we finally saw the bird it turned out to be a Brewster’s Warbler, backcross adult. Years ago along the canal there used to be Golden-winged Warblers but no more. They mated with the Blue-wings and produced combinations of Brewster’s and Lawrence’s. Time started to run short and so we headed back to NYC. With one stop along the way we arrived back at 23rd St. just after 6pm. It was a weekend of birding that everyone will remember for a long time.
Great Crested Flycatcher
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 68