by Arie Gilbert
Once again QCBC ran it’s popular overnight trip to the near upstate regions for breeding and migrant birds and other creatures. 17 folks doodled, and 14 remained to bash making for a nice turnout. DoodleBash takes place predominantly at Doddletown and the Basherkill, but also visits additional places for maximal species coverage in Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties.
The weather gods were mostly on our side, as threatened rain never materialized despite what the meteorologists claimed and the cloud cover kept the temperatures in the comfortable range. One minor detraction was that the lighting made some Ids a challenge with washed out colors and shadow.
Another interesting kluge was the traffic! I had implemented an earlier starting time for the days birding, but most of us got caught in construction and other delays on the way. We ended up starting much later than planned despite good intentions and the willingness to try something different in response to member request.
Overall, the birding was quite good and we had a nice trip list. Highlights included apparent breeding success of Hooded and Cerulean Warblers, as evinced by their being everywhere. Of special note was several Olive-sided Flycatchers! There were at least 3, with estimates of additional birds at 5 or 6 total – so nice since I had missed them there last year!
Moving on to Mine road, our “ice cream stop” provided mixed blessing. The closed convenience store we were unable to patronize last year had re-opened as of all things, a pizza & sushi place. The group let out a collective groan, and we backtracked to the corner gas station quicky mart and we all enjoyed a treat and a convenient restroom.
On Mine Road we met up with Stu & Ronnie, who told us about how they were interrogated when they tried to bird area U. The military was doing maneuvers and did their best to discourage outsiders, and this seemed to be the theme of the weekend, with a few other run-ins with officials of one sort or another. We birded the rest of Mine Road, where numbers were down as it had been in Doodletown, probably due to the overcast. No Cliff Swallows at the dam, and but one Prarie Warbler, but Mary Normandia squeezed out a Mourning Warbler for herself. We also had great looks at a “Brewsters” Warbler, and at the end of the road a brief look at a Golden-Winged. Here we were questioned by the military too.
What had seemed encouraging with respect to the GWWA and Mine Road last year, was crushed mightily this year as the power cut had been completely developed into a huge plateau that extended down 293 and loss of all that GWWA habitat.
To cap the day, we headed to Middletown and our hotel and now traditional restaurant, the Bavarian Garden. We all enjoyed our dinners and celebratory beers, and the added bonus of a dining discount because we were staying at the hotel finally after missing out in the past few years.
In Addition to the dining discount, we were afforded a complimentary breakfast that was very much enjoyed by all, and then we set off for the Basherkill. Highlights were Virginia Rail and numerous Wood Duck, and Fringed Polygala aka Gay-wings. We also heard Redstart that insisted on singing Black and White, and lots of Least Flycatchers including one couple attending to a nest. I was able to use my green laser pointer to help others find it and it came in very handy.
On Port Orange Road we were shooed away from the “lamprey bridge” by the local CSI investigating a recent crime. Before doing so I observed a Tesselated Darter in the crystal clear water and then we moved on to the power line cut where we finally got BT Green and several Prairie as well as a heard only Field Sparrow.
At the boat launch we stopped for lunch and took in views at the reliable nesting Osprey and Bald Eagles, and witnessed the emergence of several species of Dragonflies. Someone asked: “Why is that Dragonfly holding on to that cricket?” which turned out to be it’s exuviae, or shed exoskeleton from which the terrestrial form exits to complete its metamorphosis from the larval aquatic form.
We next moved on to Blue Chip farms. Ian took the traditional route through town, but John slipped off and took the short cut to arrive 10 min earlier. Despite his effort, we were skunked on Upland Sandpiper! Consolation was nice views of Bobolink that was a lifer for some. At Galeville we were greeted by “area closed” signs for construction/demolition of the abandoned airstrips, and the danger posed by the heavy equipment. The equipment turned out to be quite invisible, and we made a short trip down the walk anyway. We also tried the other entrance on the north side where we got Orchard Oriole finally, but no Uppies.
Our final stop was the bridge over the Shawangunk river where an unexpected Pied-billed Grebe capped the day before we stopped at our traditional restaurant Lombardi’s where the pasta is made fresh daily, and John says the wine selection is much to his liking!
If you plan on attending next year, remember to book your reservation early – they sell out by mid January due to WestPoint and other college commencements, and wedding banquets etc.
Trip Reports >