Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: June 16-17, 2018
Location: Neversink, Sterling Forest, Bashakill, Shawangunks NWR
Reported by: Joe Giunta
It was an amazing weekend of birds, venues and great weather. In all we saw 85 species including 14 warblers, 6 flycatchers, 6 woodpeckers, 4 swallows and 4 vireo species.
Chee has provided us with a photo link of the trip: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AoyYqvh0v7-PgZAv0yt7Wr1yLSWUXg
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 an American Redstart and then a Blue-winged 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. First birds seen here was an Indigo Bunting. Above us we saw two Red-shouldered and a Broad-winged Hawk and a Red-tailed Hawk all interacting. We walked up the path to the left seeing a Prairie Warbler. We crossed the small stream and headed up and to the right in search of birds. Birds immediately present were: Yellow Warbler and Chestnut-sided Warbler. We searched the power line cut but did not hear or see the Golden-winged Warbler, one of our target birds. Other birds that we saw were: Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole and Ovenbird 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. Walking the trail we picked up: Swamp Sparrow, Yellow-throated Vireo, Veery and a Black-and-white Warbler. We were looking for a Virginia Rail but at this spot the rail was a no-show. We turned and headed south on the trail seeing the Least Flycatcher and then remarkably seeing the Virginia Rail as we walked over the narrow auto bridge on the trail. We were looking down on it as it walked back and forth beneath us. It was probably the best look any of us ever had. Back into the van and we headed for the “ Horseshoe-big rocks” parking lot. But a lot of birding happened on the ride to Horseshoe. We heard and saw a beautiful Acadian Flycatcher in a location that it used about four years ago. It was a great view with great song. Next, before reaching the parking lot we saw male and female Bluebirds on some telephone wires above their bird boxes. When we got to the Horseshoe parking lot we picked more great birds. We heard and saw a beautiful male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Then we saw a male Cerulean Warbler. The warbler came down to the ground and was feasting on a flying insect. The bird was in the sun and everyone could see the beautiful cerulean color for which the bird is named. Walking in about 500 feet we heard another Virginia Rail. It started to get late and we wanted more birds. We stopped at Haven Road and searched the marsh. In the distance we scoped the “north” eagle nest and we saw two Bald Eagles on their nest. Missing this year was the Osprey. 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 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 were looking for the American Bittern. This year it was a no see and a no heard. Too bad. 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. This has to be one of the craziest spots for the Whip-poor-will, but for two years in a row this was the spot to find the bird. 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. A Pileated Woodpecker flew over us about three times. For some it was the best view they ever had. At 6:45 we headed towards Neversink, Cold Spring access. Before we got there I thought I heard a Willow Flycatcher the night before on Haven Road. It wasn’t much out of the way so we stopped for a few moments to see if we could find the bird. The flycatcher was very accommodating as it perched on the telephone wire in clear view. It was a lifer for some. Back to the van and then Neversink. It took about one half hour to reach Neversink. 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 Blackburnian Warblers. Other birds present in the parking lot were: Blue-headed Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, Junco and Black-throated Green Warbler. All this time two Ravens were calling in the background. Walking the trail we saw another very beautiful Black-throated Green Warbler. A little further down the trail we saw another Blackburnian Warbler. Then we had a very cooperative Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a Pine Warbler. It was followed by a flyover Pileated Woodpecker. 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, Black-throated Greens, 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. Now I had a decision to make. We had already seen all the birds that can be expected at Gumaer Falls Road so I changed the trip and decided to go to the D&H Canal instead for some birds we had not seen. We drove about a half hour and arrived at the Canal. We picked up more new birds for the trip. Seen and heard were: Alder Flycatcher, Louisiana Waterthrush and a very cooperative Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
We checked out of the hotel and 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. While eating we were entertained by a Black-throated Blue Warbler. We drove into the open area which was covered with many, many mountain laurels. We picked up more birds. A few Prairie Warblers were very vocal. Now we changed the trip format again. Instead of going to another section of Neversink we headed towards the Shawangunks NWR and the Henslow’s Sparrow. We were 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 some Bobolinks, males and females, plus a good view of a Meadowlark. Unfortunately the area where the Henslow’s was being seen was roped off. I guess this was to increase its chances of breeding successfully. We had to settle for a few Grasshopper Sparrows. They put on a good show as they were on the viewing platform without any obstructions. 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 regular. 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 3 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. It was a weekend of birds, songs and making friends. It was a weekend of birding that everyone will remember for a long time.
Great Blue Heron
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 85