Friday, June 15, 2012

DoodleBash 2012

DoodleBash is a trip I look forward to every year. I suggested it a few years back and it has proven a great way to enjoy two fantastic upstate locations. I arrived at Av-Ian Resnick’s place on time, but he must not have thought so because he and Helen ‘Hemlock’ Wheelock who he had just picked up from the train station appeared to be trying to get a bit of birding in at Oakland Lake until I ‘arrived’.

Said Farewell To My Last Bobolink, It Never Made Much Of A Kerplink
Doodle Town Never Brought Me Down When I Was Heading Out On The Road
Middletown City Never Looked So Pretty And The Future 86 Freeway's Fast
Slowdown Ian, I Want To Stay Alive, I Want To Make This Journey Last.
Helen, Helen Wheelock, Ain't Nobody Else Gonna show you peenting Woodcocks
Helen, Helen Wheelock, And They Never Gonna Take Her Birding Again

Alerted to my presence, Av-Ian drove over and I got into his car the “Grey Ghost”. So named because it seems that when he flies down the highway the vermin scurry out of his way. We made our way to Bear Mountain for the traditional “pit stop”, and got our first few birds of the day.

Driving down to the meeting location, we found the area full of other birders, and prepared ourselves for our day of birding. We met up with George Form-anifera, and waited a bit to see if anyone else was going to show up. I was there looking at a wasp some others pointed out, who had a very long ovipositor, and posing nicely I deigned to take the horrid creature’s photo. Wasps, really? Had I sunk that low?

Ichneumon Wasp Megarhyssa atrata

 I consoled myself by walking to the Iona Island side of the stream and looked at Black-nosed Dace and a Crayfish in the clear waters. Fish at least are respectable...

Black-nosed Dace Rhinichthys atrarulus

Crawfish sp.

Av-Ian and Hemlock then headed  in one direction, while I walked up the falls. Sure as sheep, I spotted a Louisiana Waterthrush. I went back to get the others, but upon our return we could not locate the bobbing beastie. Oh well, it would be the only one for the trip.

We headed back to the Doodletown trail, and we started hearing birds right away. Or I should say Av-Ian did. But when we got closer, I as well as the others heard a Cerulean and we tracked it down to the demolished house right at the first curve in the trail. A nice accommodating bird.

Cerulean Warbler
Continuing up the trail, there were numerous Redstarts, doing their best to get our attention, but then again what would one expect from a bird colored like that; like mini Baltimore Oriole wannabees. 

Overall though, it was somewhat ‘quiet’, and the consensus became that the migrants had moved on, and we were only being serenaded by the local breeders. We pulled a Gnatcher out here, and a Scarlenger there, and Hooded and Cerulean everywhere.

Hooded Warbler aka Hasidic Warbler
Walking up Lemon road, we stopped at the ‘tanks’, but here too it was more quiet than usual. Perhaps that is why the Black Vulture found it a good place to rest.

Black Vulture
Continuing on, we had more of the expected birds at the first and the second cemetery, and heard from other birders that the Kentucky was singing by the Pease house, just shy of the brook. This bird had been reported for weeks! I was curious though, because this birder said it was singing “the alternate song”. What alternate song, I cannot find any reference to such? As we made our way there, we passed two over dressed lads with very long guns. They were in the midst of a war re-enactment.

We're not hunting wabbits
That explained the loud canon fire we had been hearing, the canon report traveling up the sides of the mountains in a peculiar way that demonstrates the speed and propagation of sound. As we birded around the Pease house and the brook, the two actors took to hiding in the woods; a Brit was supposed to be heading down the path at us. 

I suggested that we eat at the bridge, hopeful the Kentucky would show up or at least make a sound. Av-Ian however, was afraid of having his ears hurt by the gunfire noise, and retreated to the traditional “lunch rock”. Hemlock, Form-anifera, and I stayed. Av-Ian just can’t handle the whole “no taxation without representation” issue, being an accountant and all. I tried to tell him the issue had been resolved long ago, but he just sardonically pointed out that Jean LeConte Sparrow is still sore over all the tea wasted in the Boston harbor. Nice way to change the subject buddy, but he headed off alone to the lunch rock anyway. 

A nice wildflower

After lunch, we headed back and met up with Av-Ian, and made our way back to the car. We made a stop at Iona Island, but could not find Orchard Oriole. Darn - a miss. Just then we got a call saying that Jeff Critter had found a Kentucky at the end of mine road. Yay!

On Mine road, we found Ronnie & Stu waiting for us as they always do. Experiencing the same general quietness as we had up in Doodle town, Ian decided to make a bee line for the end of the road, and see if we could locate the Kentucky Warbler. 

There’s a crew, called Ronnie & Stu
They bird together - they’re stuck like glue
She’s Ronnie, and he’s called Stu h’ who?
She finds him birds and he finds her birdies too

On the way we crossed paths with other birders, and they had either seen or heard the KEWA. Encouraged, we arrived at the proper location, and began to hear the bird. Try as we might, we could not locate the bird, and it appears that once again we had a KEWA that wanted to sing it’s heart {as well as several other internal organs} out, but not show itself. 

Not a KEWA, but some very interesting flies? moths?
For some time both Hemlock and I tried to locate the lil’ yellow bugger, but it wasn’t happening. She gave up, as did Ian some time before, but I was determined to ~see~ the bird. I circled it, and was fairly certain which tree it was in. But it could not be found.

Emboldened, the bird began taunting us, and when it called Ian a “wiper of other people’s bottoms” and “a hamster”, he yelled out to me that it was time to move on. I tried to convince him and the others that we should keep trying, but Ian was terrified that the KEWA might next hurl a cow at us, and, you know... safety first.  

Going down Mine road in reverse, we stopped at a few places where we got Prairie Warbler, and ubiquitous Bluntings. Bling Warblers were here and there, but no Golden-winged, or hybrids. Sadly, at the dam we did not get the Cliff Swallows. There were a few mud nests, but a group from Orange County doing a big day had been there a while and had not seen any come in.  

Prairie Warbler
 A few YB Cuckoos were heard, but as far as I know no one saw one. It would seem that it was unfair, these birds not gracing us with a view. On the other hand, we have had occasion where the birds did all but a “Michigan J Frog” dance. Just goes to show you that each birding experience is unique.

When we ended up at the end of mine road, we tried for KEWA and GOWA again to no avail, and even dipped on Kingfisher that we usually have on the lake below. ‘Finishing’ a bit earlier than usual, we decided to explore a bit, and drove north up 293 instead of south, and birded up to Long Pond.

On the way to Middletown, we stopped at the scenic overlook, and had Blunting again. They are everywhere this year! We then got to the hotel and checked in.

 I don’t think I was the only one, but for my part I couldn’t wait to have a shower! At check-in we set a dinner meeting time and I bolted for some well needed refreshment. I mention this because by the time Ian showed up at the room he was disproportionately amused that I had already completed my shower.

At the Bavarian Garden restaurant, I made a few unfortunate discoveries. The first - they had no decent beer on tap! Horrors! I subsequently found out that Harold, the owner had decided to give up his lease, and another restauranteur would be in charge next year.I guess the novelty of German bee... er, cuisine had worn off in the area. Oh well, the only thing constant is change.

I defaulted to a bottled beer, a Beck’s. They were pleasingly cold and quite refreshing. On a tangentially pleasing note, upon presentation of our dinner tab I discovered they were ‘on special’  practically being given away. !

Capping off a great day, the breakfast special accommodation I had arranged on previous visits was honored, and we all got egg sandwiches made for us with our vouchers before we retired for the night, and we had them available to heat up in the am. Planning and execution - perfect together. 

The next morning we assembled bright and early and in contrast to years past made our way to ‘the bash’ without the long drive first. An excellent idea.

That is for most of us. We met Jeff Critter there, who prefers to doodle, go home, and then bash. Go figure. We met him on Haven road, and right away alerted us to a good bird: Common Moorhen. It was visible, then obscured by the vegetation, and then came out again so that we were all able to get decent looks.

Wood Ducks seemed to be particularly plentiful, and who doesn’t like to see a WODU? Out in the marsh we saw numerous Eastern Kingbirds and Yellow Warblers were not trying to hide. 

Moving to the ‘Stop Sign trail’ lot were bombarded by boisterous Baltimorioles. Not to be outdone, their ‘mini-me’ Redstarts were also very evident, though we were hoping for more variety. We ran into a few other club members who decided to do the bash on their own; departing about the time we were arriving. Sadly for them the earliness did not pay off, and they reported mostly breeders and very few migrants, something that would come to be the way the trip would manifest. 

Which is not to say we didn’t have good birds! We made our way a ways down the trail and had Virginia Rail! Stu and Ronnie were still back at the parking lot, so we beckoned them on and they were able to join us and get a good view. Those two, always lagging behind to be alone like  teenagers... sheesh, when will they grow up...

Continuing down the trail, Jeff, then Ian, then the rest of us of normo-acusis heard Willow Flycatcher. They were around in good numbers and visible, tough lot of good that does for ID. We also had Pewee, Phoebe, and Brown Freeper* one who was sitting on the trail - a not so common sighting location for this species, Flycatchers were good to us. 

Brown Freeper,, Great Crested Flycatcher
On the trail a Yelio showed well, and a weird Warblio song turned out to in fact be an Orchard Oriole. This bird was a young male with the throat patch, and a nice save since it was missed at Iona.

Yelio {Yellow-throated Vireo}

By the tower trail, we had actual Warblio and Revio, and some Veerys. I still have not ~seen~ a Wood Thrush, but we heard them off in the distance.


Jeff Critter commented that we most often stop at this point and head back, but that there could be good birds further along the trail. I agreed; there is no rule that says the birds are in that first section, and even if there is,  birds can’t read. He and I walked on, and we were rewarded with a Cerulean, which we both remarked that we had rarely if ever seen at the bash. Nice!

As an aside, I am very pleased that I know several folks who enjoy the hiking aspect in and of itself. While one can construe birds as the focus of birding, enjoying a good hike, the beautiful surroundings, and the other life such as the ferns, wildflowers, bugs etc makes for a more in robust experience.

More wildflowers

We birded our way back to the car, and then drove to the end of the access road where we stopped on Haven road to bird that locale a bit. We were rewarded with a Chestnut-sided Warbler!

Chestnut-sided Warbler
John ‘Hound of the Basherkill’ Haas happened by, and we discussed the paucity of migrants and general disbirdiness. He offered his hypothesis that the mild winter coupled with an early hatch of caterpillars and subsequent frost killed off the caterpillars and gypsy moths, and left the Cuckoos to settle elsewhere, and that most of the migrants had moved on too as a result.

Continuing on South Road, we stopped at the ‘Bluebird house’. It’s always a pleasure to see the birds on has come to expect in the places we know they have been in. Singing loudly here was House Wren as well. Be advised that parking on the road here puts you near blind curves, so make sure that if you stop you are well off onto the side and out of harms way.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
At the boat launch we were happy to see that the volunteers were present as well as their subjects, the Osprey and Bald Eagles.  The subject f the latter was seen in the clear waters at the boat ramp.

Pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus

From here we went to the ‘antique store’ where we got House Finch and some beverages across the street at the convenient deli. Because of the time of day mayhaps, the field was not as productive as last year, and we did not have the good fortune regarding either Olive-sided Flycatcher or MIKI. We blamed Hemlock.

We continued south on route 209 to Port Orange Road, where we were greeted by a ‘road closed’ sign. This gave Av-Ian paws, but a distemper shot and my insistence that it was meant to indicate that the road did not continue through, [rather than ‘do not enter’ or ‘no birding’, or ‘you’re gonna die! ] and we went on to our usual spots. Further up the road where it goes through the dense woods, the road was impassable, having been destroyed by hurricane Irene. If and when the road will be repaired is anyone’s guess.

So far we have not been lucky enough to re-locate the lampreys in the river as we had in the past, and there was no Louisiana to be found. But walking the road a ways we did near YB Cuckoo, though could not get a glimpse.

As we could not continue on, we back tracked and entered Port Orange Road from the other side. Once again Av-Ian had paws, but this I discovered was due to the sting of a recently lost and costly traffic infraction. After suitable mockery and pitiful pleading Av-Ian relented. Note to self: visit Av-Ian in prison.

Driving down to the power cut we had BT Green and Black-and-white. At the power cut we immediately heard Prairie, and a distant Field Sparrow. The later flew in and serenaded us from a very opportune vantage point. Of course Common Throat and Blunting were present, as was a Chestnut-sided up in the Hemlocks { the trees, not the birder}.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Field Sparrow

Good birds but again it seemed less than in previous years. Due to the less than usual birdiness, we had time to explore. We headed to Linear Park, a section that we have only done a few times in the past. First we walked north, and saw newts in the water and Jeff heard Acadian FC off in the distance.

Eventually the rest of us heard them and we were delighted to see Purple Martins in a new location. This meant we did not have to depart our evening repast in time to get them at the thruway toll plaza!

Purple Martin a nice surprise find!

Hemlock then came through for us again, this time finding a Gross-breasted Rosebeak. Yippee! But really, a lone RBGR for this weekend? Rachel Carson anyone? And then Jeff heard a Pine Warbler. Personally, Chippies, Worm-eating and Pine sound too much alike, but Jeff was spot on and we nabbed another warbler for the day.

We headed back towards the cars and walked the other way on the trail, this time Hemlock scored us a Kingfisher. Yes! The birds were stashing the tequila and coming out of siesta. A short distance down the path Jeff heard an Acadian again, and this time we waved wildly at Stu and Ronnie. Of course they thought we were just acting silly, but eventually decided it was worth their while to join us. Upon their arrival we had the Acadian come in and was in the tree right above us. We all got great looks and good listens to the sounds from up close and personal. 

Satisfied with the birds seen here, and still with time to spare, we consulted the ‘Hound of the Basherkill’s’ Birding Guide to Sullivan county and went a short distance further to Gumaer road. As promised in the guide, specific breeding birds were located at stops along the road. We had Blackburnian, BT Blue, and Junco. Further along we stopped at location good for Alder FC, and who should happen by but Tom B and Gail B. They reported their lack of luck with the aforementioned, as well as apparent desperation in trying to find a Broad-winged Hawk. Shortly after their departure, we heard an Alder. Just goes to show you that luck counts. 

Its nice to explore new places, and even better when they prove fruitful! But with daylight not unlimited, we moved on to Blue Chip Farms.


Some time after our this visit some F*@%ing MORON or MORONS trespassed onto the Blue Chip farm property and apparently entered the horse field enclosures. Birding or photography does not license anyone to trespass, and is a sure way to get the rest of the non-trespassing folks banned from a location. 
The owners contacted the birding community and hopefully this error will never be repeated. For what it’s worth, the horses could have reacted with alarm and the perpetrators could have been injured. Some might say they would have gotten what
they deserved in that circumstance. 
Off soap box...

At Blue Chip we scanned the fields and Ronnie was the one who located the Uppies. It seems each time we are there the Uppies are in a different location. This time they were quite close to the road, and going around the corner we were able to get looks much closer than usual. Nice! We also had Bobolinks but curiously no Savannah Sparrows either here or at Galeville. Hmmm.


Galeville has been transformed from its previous incarnation as an airport with the runways removed. We did not even bother to enter the old entrance, instead going to the county park on the north end. At some point we will have to explore that location [ again] hoping that the grassland species will take advantage of the new habitat. Grasshopper Sparrow and even Henslow’s Sparrow had been here in the past. One can hope...

Enjoying more views of Bobolink and distant views of Meadowlarks, we headed for our last stop, the bridge over the Walkill river. Nothing unusual this time, and with stomachs grumbling we headed off for dinner. Trying to avoid the long wait we had last time, I had Lombardi’s telephone #. Ian called, but apparently even by calling ahead we would have to wait too long and we decided to head elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, Lombardi’s is a fine restaurant and we have always had superior fare there. But they are a victim of their own success, and we bailed for other options.

I have always said that there is no shortage of choices in New Paltz, and ever the protagonist for breaking the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ creedo that pervaded the QCBC club, we arrived in New Paltz and chose the Gelded Otter for its suitable fare and on-tap possibilities. Thinking: "Gosh,  what a cruel and unusual name", I looked again and discovered it was in fact the Gilded Otter. I Thought “phew”, and then, perhaps being dipped in molten gold was a far worse fate than the former. Oh well, it was getting on in the day and I was thirsty, tired, and hungry. Get us a table!

I think the beer theme for the trip is “we’re out of that” what with no imports on tap at the Bavarian Garden yesterday, and what our server relayed to me at the table. I ordered their stout, and he brought me a glass though explained that it was the end of the keg, not as fresh as they like to serve it, and partake if I wished or discard, but either way there would be no charge for that pint. It turned out to be acceptable, and I then enjoyed another variety of their brew as well.

All of us enjoyed our comestibles and beverages, and it occurs to me that it might do for a new default location as seating is more easily obtained. Walking out to the parking lot, we scored another bird that we had missed  - remarkably we finally got Downey as the light was fading. Better late than never, and another good job spotting by Hemlock.

We ended the day with what else? A stop at the toll plaza and the Martins. Another great trip!

DoodleBash Rules!