Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Birding trip to Doodletown, Bashakill and Shawangunks NWR, NY

On Saturday, I headed out around 6:45 AM to Manhattan where I was joining 11 other birders for a birding trip to Doodletown, Bashakill and Shawangunks NWR. On the way in I realized, that I had forgotten to pack my binoculars. This is after checking and rechecking my bags several times. I just forgot to put it around my neck, which is where it usually goes as I keep it handy once I am outside. I was not happy, but comforted myself that I had my scope and thought that it would be good practice to do some birding by ear. When I stopped to pick up our van, I called our trip leader Joe Giunta and told him my dilemma asking if he would check the Audubon office to see if they had any bins available. I got to Audubon around 8:30 AM and Joe did bring two binoculars he had borrowed from Audubon…they were old and not of good quality, but I had to make do with them. We boarded the van quickly and were on the road by 9:00 AM. Our first stop was Doodletown, Bear Mountain, NY. We got there with good time and upon entering the trail, picked up American Goldfinches and Cedar Waxwings. Further along the trail, we heard a Hooded Warbler, but did not get any looks. We continued on and picked up Indigo Buntings, Scarlet Tanager and a nice look at a Ruby-throat Hummingbird. We met a few birders who were on their way out and they told us where we could land Hooded and Cerulean Warblers, both target birds for us. It was not long before we reached the spot and right on cue we heard a Hooded Warbler, while looking for that bird, a Red-eyed Vireo came into view and did a hummingbird type display in picking off an insect from a hanging branch. It was a neat display! While looking at the Vireo, a Cerulean Warbler came into view and we all had excellent looks at this bird. After enjoying the looks we continued on looking for the Hooded Warbler and we got it just a few feet away from where we had found the Cerulean. And what good looks we had. Right at that location we had a treat of finding an American Redstart nesting. Since we had landed the two target birds in that area, we turned and headed back down the hill. On our way back we heard a Yellow-throated Vireo and again the looks were very good for most of us. Shortly after, we took a lunch break and enjoyed the scenery while eating. At the lunch spot we picked up another bird in Louisiana Water Thrush. One of our attendees, John Sperling who happens to be a naturalist caught a Green Frog and we all had good looks at it. After lunch, we headed up Lemmon Road, where we found another good bird in Blue-winged Warbler. Heading back down Lemmon Road, we landed a Brown Creeper; Joe indicated that it was the first time he had found that bird at Doodletown and was quite pleased at seeing it there. We decided that it was time to head out for Bashakill and so we began the walk back to our van. On the way we picked up Eastern Phoebe and Great Crested Flycatcher. We left Doodletown and headed to Bashakill, which took about an hour. At Bashakill, our first stop was on Haven road where we parked and checked out the swamp. We quickly picked up Water snakes, Green Frogs, Eastern Kingbird, Great Blue Heron and Wood Duck. After awhile we got back into the van and slowly moved on towards our next stop, we had gone just a few yards, when Joe asked me to stop the van. He had found another target bird, Common Moorhen. We all piled out of the van and had good looks. We then drove to another location that looked out into the swamp. At that location, there were scopes on a Bald Eagle and Osprey nests. Those of us with our own scopes set them up and took looks at both nests. We then walked the trail in search of a few more target birds. The first one we landed was the Least Flycatcher. It was neat hearing the bird call and tracking it to its location. We then picked up two other target birds, a Virginia Rail that walked right into the trail ahead of us and one of my favorite finds of the trip, an American Bittern who we spotted poking its head out among the tall grass. At that location, we also picked up Baltimore Oriole, Cedar Waxwings and Blue-winged Warbler. We tried for Orchard Oriole, but alas did not find any. We drove on further along Haven Road and picked up Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Chipping Sparrow, Rose Breasted Grosbeaks and many other birds. By then it was time for us to check into our Motel, the Days Inn. After checking in and freshening up, we headed out for dinner and some night time birding. Dinner was good at Danny’s...perhaps too good; we were looking forward to walking off some of the calories we had just piled on. When we were ready to leave it began raining and even though we gambled on the downpour subsiding, it did not and so after driving to a spot known for Whip-poor-wills and doing some flashlight searches from the van, we called it a night after about 20 minutes. The next day we were up bright and early. I was up around 4:00 AM, checking the list server for news on the Upland Sandpiper. I was pleased to see that two were seen and another two heard. After breakfast, which was around 6:00 AM, we headed out to the D&H Canal and immediately after getting out of the van we landed another good bird in Alder Flycatcher. We then headed south along the newly mowed trail in search of another target bird in Golden-winged Warbler, along the way, we picked up Black-billed Cuckoo, Pileated Woodpecker (flyover) Belted Kingfisher, Veery, Wood Thrush, Baltimore Oriole, Tufted Titmouse and finally the Golden-winged Warbler. This bird gave us spectacular views at eye level and we all had great looks. We turned back at this point; on our way back we picked up Eastern Bluebirds and a Downy Woodpecker. At the van we headed in the opposite direction we had been and on that trail, we picked up several new birds for the trip, including Pine Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Field Sparrow and Barn Swallow. We also had several repeats, including Rose Breasted Grosbeaks and Blue-winged Warbler, to name a few. We left the Canal, and headed towards Gumaer Falls Road. Here the habitat was different and more suited to Warblers. We picked up several more target birds including Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, Winter Wren, and a surprise bird in an Olive-sided Flycatcher. John Sperling, continued to share his knowledge with us by pointing out several plants and showed us a Red eft. After about an hour of birding we headed back to the Motel and checked out. We then stopped at a local deli and picked up lunch. We ate at the location on Haven Road we had visited the day before where the scopes were setup for the Eagles. The scenery was nice there and it was nice to visit it one more time before we left. While eating, we saw a nice Purple Spotted Butterfly in the parking lot and John Sperling and I relocated a Baby Green Frog, which was we found in a puddle in the parking area. After lunch, we drove to our last venue, Shawangunks NWR. We stopped first at Blue Chip Farms in our quest for the Upland Sandpiper. After about an hour searching we found the bird…or birds I should say. The views were all scope looks as they were way out and not easy to keep track of as they kept moving. We noted 2 adults and 2 young. Everyone all had decent looks and for some, it was a life bird. We then left for Shawangunks NWR, where we were after some grassland birds. As soon as we walked into the trail at Shawangunks NWR, we picked up another target in Willow Flycatcher…interestingly on a Willow tree. While enjoying the looks, we heard the song of an Eastern Meadowlark and quickly diverted our attention. While enjoying the view of the Meadowlark, in flew a Male Bobolink. We all had great looks. By then it was around 4:30 PM and Joe decided that it was time to wrap it up. On our way out we picked up another new bird for the trip in Common Raven. We boarded our van a tired, but happy group. After one stop for drinks and a bathroom break, we drove non-stop back to NYC arriving at Audubon around 7:15 PM. I dropped off the van and got home around 10:00 PM. It was an excellent trip getting to see some really nice birds and meeting nice people.
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Total species seen: 93
  1. Acadian Flycatcher
  2. Alder Flycatcher
  3. American Bittern
  4. American Crow
  5. American Goldfinch
  6. American Redstart
  7. American Robin
  8. Bald Eagle
  9. Baltimore Oriole
  10. Barn Swallow
  11. Belted Kingfisher
  12. Black Vulture
  13. Black-and-white Warbler
  14. Black-billed Cuckoo
  15. Blackburnian Warbler
  16. Black-capped Chickadee
  17. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  18. Black-throated Green Warbler
  19. Blue Jay
  20. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  21. Blue-winged Warbler
  22. Bobolink
  23. Brown Creeper
  24. Brown-headed Cowbird
  25. Canada Goose
  26. Cedar Waxwing
  27. Cerulean Warbler
  28. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  29. Chipping Sparrow
  30. Common Grackle
  31. Common Moorhen
  32. Common Raven
  33. Common Yellowthroat
  34. Downy Woodpecker
  35. Eastern Bluebird
  36. Eastern Kingbird
  37. Eastern Meadowlark
  38. Eastern Phoebe
  39. Eastern Towhee
  40. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  41. European Starling
  42. Field Sparrow
  43. Fish Crow
  44. Golden-winged Warbler
  45. Gray Catbird
  46. Great Blue Heron
  47. Great Crested Flycatcher
  48. Great Egret
  49. Hooded Warbler
  50. House Finch
  51. House Sparrow
  52. House Wren
  53. Indigo Bunting
  54. Killdeer
  55. Least Flycatcher
  56. Louisiana Waterthrush
  57. Mallard
  58. Mourning Dove
  59. Mute Swan
  60. Northern Cardinal
  61. Northern Flicker
  62. Northern Mockingbird
  63. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  64. Olive-sided Flycatcher
  65. Osprey
  66. Ovenbird
  67. Pileated Woodpecker
  68. Pine Warbler
  69. Red-eyed Vireo
  70. Red-tailed Hawk
  71. Red-winged Blackbird
  72. Rock Pigeon
  73. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  74. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  75. Savannah Sparrow
  76. Scarlet Tanager
  77. Song Sparrow
  78. Tree Swallow
  79. Tufted Titmouse
  80. Turkey Vulture
  81. Upland Sandpiper
  82. Veery
  83. Virginia Rail
  84. Warbling Vireo
  85. White-breasted Nuthatch
  86. Wild Turkey
  87. Willow Flycatcher
  88. Winter Wren
  89. Wood Duck
  90. Wood Thrush
  91. Yellow Warbler
  92. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  93. Yellow-throated Vireo
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Anonymous said...

Excellent! I'm envious.

Dan Huber said...

Fantastic - wonderful array of birds seen. great pics too

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful accout of our great trip! The photos are fantastic.

Mike said...

What a day! I love Doodletown but never birded Bashakill or the 'Gunks. With birds like you saw, I need to get out there ASAP.


Thanks for visiting and the kind comments. It was a great trip made even more by the sightings and company.

Joe Giunta our trip leader was fantastic and the birds we found is a testament to his meticulous preparation.

Dawn Fine said...

Great birds! Nice trip..
I need to do that area sometime!
I just love the names..
Doodletown.(makes me laugh}.bashakill(that one scares me}
shawangunks...Indian name?


Hi Dawn - thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. The trip was great. I would love to get out there again to do some additional birding and photography. As far as the name "shawangunks", it has some Dutch and Indian history tied to it.