After the disappointment of the Celery Farm, I decide to gamble on a late morning drive up to Doodletown.
I’d seen it for weeks on the ebird reports of all the birds I was missing up at Doodletown.
“There is no better place in New York State to see both Cerulean and Hooded Warblers than Doodletown Road in Rockland County.” – Corey Finger, 1000birds.com
“Doodletown Road, along with it’s downhill neighbor, Iona Island, has been declared an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the National Audubon Society. A number of bird species deemed threatened or of special concern breed in this area. That’s how we found Doodletown, and why you might want to check it out yourself if you’re in the area.” – Mike Bergin, 1000birds.com
“This is where everyone goes to find their Hooded and Cerulean Warblers for the year. This area host many breeders and migrants. Best time is in May and very early June.” – Hudson River Audubon Society
“Other common warblers include Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided, Palm, Prairie, Yellow-rumped, Yellow, Black-and-White, Canada, American Redstart, Blue-winged, Common Yellowthroat, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Ovenbird. In all, 32 species of wood warbler have been seen.” – Rockland Audubon Society
Armed with such knowledge, teased with the daily reports, I was anxious to try my luck birding at Doodletown. However, it’s a bit of a drive (all of an hour!), thus hard to squeeze in before work. Saturday appeared to be my only opportunity in May. So away I went.
The trail’s beginning is a unprepossessing break in the bushes leading to two trails: a wider trail and stream running down steep steps. I opted for the steps and began making my way up the mountain.
Along the way up there are signs indicating the remains of a 200-year-old town.
The ruins of Doodletown. Doodletown Rd, Bear Mountain State Park, NY. Photo taken on May 17, 2014.
The woods were loaded with both bird and birdsong. I slowly made my way up the slope. There were a few quick IDs by ear (Tufted Titmouse, Ovenbird). The signs were there: it had the makings of a
good great day. I got on a Hooded Warbler and photos!
Female Hooded Warbler, first of three Hooded Warbler sightings. Doodletown Rd, Bear Mountain State Park. Photo taken on May 17, 2014.
Continuing up the trail, I got an as of yet unidentified species, followed by a FOY Indigo Bunting singing on a sunny branch.
Unidentified species. Doodletown Rd, Bear Mountain State Park. Photo taken on May 17, 2014.
Indigo Bunting belting out the blues. Doodletown Rd, Bear Mountain State Park. Photo taken on May 17, 2014.
Just a bit further up the trail I hit the bird bonanza. It was a Canada Warbler that caught my eye, causing me to turn back and pursue the right branch of a trail. As I stood there in wonder, I was joined by another birder who confirmed two of my IDs. While there I also witnessed a Magnolia Warbler, Indigo Bunting, American Redstarts, several Cedar Waxwings, and a lifer, Bay-breasted Warbler.
Cedar Waxwings dart back and forth. Doodletown Rd, Bear Mountain State Park. Photo taken on May 17, 2014.
After watching for nearly half an hour, I continued up the trail. I opted to pick the trail on the right as right proved bountiful previously. 150 feet up the path I paused to decipher the songs.
Up close and personal with an American Redstart. Doodletown Rd, Bear Mountain State Park. Photo taken on May 17, 2014.
I was approached by another birder. I forget what we began by talking about first, but we quickly turned to the Tennessee Warbler singing. He inquired if I could identify birds by ear, and acknowledged the Tennessee’s song. I responded that the Tennessee’s song has three parts (thank goodness for learning that on Thursday!). After conversing for a few moments, he offered to accompany me further up the path. Having birded there for 24 years, he knew to the patch and tree where to find particular birds and freely shared his knowledge.
Along the way he pointed out Cerulean Warbler calls, found one fluttering in the tree tops, and talking to other birders we learned there was a Kentucky Warbler. So we went and listened to him sing for a while. Steve, as I eventually learned his name was, continued to show me the lay of the land.
We talked birds and shop. It turns out Steve is in the process of establishing Hudson Valley Nature Excursions. We discussed conservation, mindset, and tailoring nature walks for each particular audience.
Bay-breasted Warbler sits next to a Cedar Waxwing. Doodletown Rd, Bear Mountain State Park. Photo taken on May 17, 2014.
Doodletown Rd was a definite success which I look forward to repeating.