Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: June 17-18, 2017
Location: Neversink, Sterling Forest, Bashakill, Shawangunks NWR
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Fantastic views of birds, constant bird song and great vistas made this a most remarkable birding trip.
Our group of 11 birders left from the NYC Audubon headquarters on 23rd St at 8am. Our first stop was the Sterling Forest visitor’s center and here we were greeted by a singing Eastern Phoebe. 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 hearing and seeing a Hooded Warbler. Back into the van we arrived at the end of the road and at the power line cut. It provides for nice habitat for low shrubby birds like the Golden-winged Warbler. The Golden-winged was our number one target bird of this area. First birds seen were: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Indigo Bunting, Blue-winged Warbler. We crossed the small stream and headed up and to the right in search of birds. Birds immediately present were: Worm-eating Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Yellow Warbler. Reaching a clearing and seeing the power line wires we heard and then saw our number one target: Golden-winged Warbler. After seeing the bird and hearing the bird it seemed to just follow us along the trail. I think we saw it at least 4 times. Another highly sort after bird, the Cerulean Warbler, was also present. It flew down and landed on the trail right in front of us. Great view! Other birds that we saw were: Scarlet Tanager, Prairie Warbler, Baltimore Oriole. This had to be one of my best visits ever to Sterling Forest. 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 Chestnut–sided Warbler. Walking the trail we picked up: Swamp Sparrow, Veery and a Black-and-white Warbler. We had a flyover Pileated Woodpecker. We were looking for a Virginia Rail but at this spot the rail was a no-show. Back into the van and we headed for the “ Horseshoe-big rocks” parking lot. Walking in about 500 feet we heard the Virginia Rail. As a matter of fact we heard about 2 Virginia Rails. After a few minutes they walked across the trail and gave everyone great views. It started to get late and we wanted more birds. Our group went to the “main boat launch” area. Getting out of the van we saw the Bald Eagles on their nest. Missing this year was the Osprey. We also saw and head 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 6:15 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 to Custer’s Last Stand for an ice cream dessert. At 8pm we went out for some nighttime birding. Our group went to Haven Road. Out of the van, we almost immediately heard the American Bittern. It was a 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. Making a stop 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 it being heard. We arrived back at the hotel just after 9pm 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: Phoebe and Chipping Sparrow. In the distance we could hear a Pileated Woodpecker. Looking at the mailbox we saw a House Wren carrying food in and then out. It was a very nice view. At 6:45 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. We were surrounded by at least three Ovenbirds. Singing and close by were two or three Blackburnian Warblers. It took a little while but we got very good looks at the Blackburnians. Walking the trail we saw a very beautiful Black-throated Green Warbler. A little further down the trail we saw another 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. We were surrounded by birds and bird song. Singing were: Blackburnians, Hermit Thrushes, a Blue-headed Vireo, a Scarlet Tanager. Ovenbirds were all over and very vocal. It was so nice to see and heard these birds in the forest where they breed. After two hours we left this spot and headed towards Gumaer Falls Road, a birding hotspot. Halfway up the road we heard and then saw another key target of the trip: the Acadian Flycatcher. The bird was very cooperative and came down to a utility wire in clear view. He was joined by a singing Blackburnian Warbler. One sang and then the other sang. Birders who enjoy bird song were in heaven.
We picked up sandwiches at Home Town Deli on route 209 and headed towards another section of Neversink. This section is known as the Wolf Brook Access. We had lunch while overlooking the Wolf Brook. We drove into the open area which was covered with many, many mountain laurels. We picked up more birds. A Prairie Warblers was very local and an Eastern Towhee flew across the trail in landed in a bare tree. It think it was the same tree as last year. Now we changed the trip format. Instead of going to another section of Neversink and then the D&H Canal the group voted to “chase” the Henslow’s Sparrow which was being seen at Shawangunks NWR. We checked out of the hotel and headed towards the “Gunks”, as they are called. Even if we missed the Henslow’s there were other birds there for us to see. After about an hour of driving we reached the “Gunks”. At the parking lot we were met with numerous Bobolinks, males and females, plus good views of many Meadowlarks. As we started to walk towards the area where the Henslow’s was being reported we saw and heard a very nice Grasshopper Sparrow. I remember a few years ago the Grasshopper Sparrow was not present here but with the renovations that had taken place over the last few years the bird is now a breeder here and in good numbers. We got to the Henslow’s spot and waited and waited. We did see an American Kestrel but no Henslow’s. Time started to run short and so the Henslow’s goes down as a miss, maybe next year. Not wanting to leave on a downer I took the group to a Bank Swallow spot not far away. We saw about 15 Bank Swallows entering and leaving their nest cavities. Now we headed back to NYC. With one stop along the way we arrived back at 23rd St. just after 6pm. We recorded 80 species, 16 Warbler species, 4 Vireo species and 5 Flycatcher Species. It was a weekend of birding that everyone will remember for a long time.
Great Blue Heron
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 80