The Bashakill Wildlife Management Area
This outstanding birding area in southeastern Sullivan
County attracts birders from all over the northeast.
Most come in April and May to look for migrating
birds that stop to rest and feed in the trees and
shrubbery adjacent to the large wetlands, but the
birding is excellent much of the year.
To print a map of the Bashakill, click on the
map at right and print in landscape mode.
To get there:
take exit 113 on Rt 17, and drive south on Rt 209 about
a mile and a half to Haven Road, which crosses the Bashakill.
Where to look for
birds: Haven Road provides open views both
north and south, and migrating birds often fly right overhead.
Park in the lot on the left before the open water, or after
crossing the water, turn left into the main parking lot.
Trails lead from both parking lots through some of the best
If there are too many birders in the Haven Road area,
or you just want to try another place, drive to the end
of Haven Rd, and turn right at the intersection with South
Road, which follows the Bashakill to the southern edge of
the county. There are several DEC parking areas along
South Road, and each provides access to trails and excellent
Another access point to the Bashakill is from Rt 209 about
1/4 mile north of Haven Road. A DEC-marked road leads
to a parking lot overlooking the Bashakill, with a trail
leading to a viewing tower. Still another access is
from Rt 209 at Westbrookville, across from the convenience
store, where a road leads to a parking lot and boat launch
Bald Eagles can now be seen during any season of the year
in Sullivan County. Winter can provide the largest
numbers, and both the Delaware River corridor and Rio/Mongaup
Valley have well-marked eagle viewing areas. The best
information on winter eagle-sighting locations is on the
Institute website, which includes directions and a map.
(The Mongaup Valley eagle viewing area west of Forestburg
and Plank Road, which follows the river south, are very
good birding spots for waterfowl, Ravens, Red-breasted Nuthatch
and other birds. Always keep the possibility of a
Golden Eagle in mind.)
Some of the wintering eagles depart in late winter for
points north, and other eagles remain here to nest in large
trees not far from the largest bodies of water in the county.
Because they forage at a distance from the nest, they can
be seen almost anywhere in spring and throughout the summer.
In late summer and fall the young and the adults wander,
and on a sunny day they can be seen soaring high over Sullivan
Delaware and Hudson Canal Towpath Linear Park --
From the access point at Hornbeck’s Basin Park at
Wurtsboro, this beautiful trail leads north along the old
canal, past a second access point at the end of McDonald
Road, to newly opened sections leading through Summitville,
and ending about 6 miles later at another little park at
Bova Rd and Rt 209.
This wonderful trail has the potential to rival
the Bashakill for superb birding. Sullivan
County Audubon has already documented over 115 species
along this trail, including nesting Golden-winged
Warblers in at least two locations.
To print a map of the park, click on the link
at right and print in landscape mode.
B. Other County and Town Parks:
Mountain Park, overlooking Liberty, has trails,
varied habitat and good spring and summer birding, including
nesting Indigo Buntings, Field Sparrows, and Towhees.
Access it from Rt 55 about a mile south of the village.
Park, between Loch Sheldrake and Hurleyville,
has a small shallow lake that has been visited by a remarkable
variety of waterfowl, wading and shore birds over the years.
During migration, check it out from the parking lot; a spotting
scope will be helpful.
of Thompson Park – This multi-use 180-acre
park is along County Road 107 about 2 miles from Hurleyville.
Walking trails through varied habitat along the East Branch
of the Mongaup provide good spring and summer birding for
flycatchers, resident warblers, swallows, waxwings, sparrows,
and other resident birds.
C. State lands
Neversink Gorge (DEC Neversink River State Unique Area)
is a wonderful unspoiled forest surrounding the southern
portions of the Neversink River. It has hiking trails
accessible from a small parking lot at the south end of
Katrina Falls Road in Rock Hill (Rt 17 Exit 109). Sapsuckers
abound in their nesting season, as do Hermit Thrushes, Winter
Wrens, Blackburnian Warblers and Scarlet Tanagers.
Keep your eyes open for a Raven or an accipiter.
Pond State Campsite and Day Use area is north
of DeBruce, in the State Forest Preserve near the northern
edge of the county; open mid-May to November. There is access
to trails with good woodland birding, featuring nesting
Hermit and Swainson’s Thrushes, Winter Wrens, Juncos,
and Blackburnian Warblers.
4. Driving routes
The Woodstock Site, Hurd Road and Bethel area
– If you want to visit the Woodstock site anyway,
drive along the country roads in this area and look for
Red-tails and Kestrels in summer, and Rough-legged Hawks,
Harriers, and Horned Larks in winter. Wild Turkeys
abound. From Rt 17, take exit 104 and drive west about 10
miles on Rt 17B to Bethel. Hurd Road is a right turn;
the Woodstock site is on Hurd Rd.
Villa Roma and Beechwoods area in northwestern Sullivan
County – drive along the quiet roads west
of Jeffersonville through beautiful open farmland.
In early summer, look for abundant Bobolinks in the meadows,
and listen for Meadowlarks and Savannah Sparrows.
This is great hawk country in winter; look for Rough-legged
Hawks and possibly a Northern Shrike. A Harrier or
Kestrel is possible, and Red-tails are common year-round.
Fir Brook – the habitat along this road
(called Pole Rd in DeLorme page 35) will remind you of the
Adirondacks, as will the birdlife. At the far northeastern
edge of Sullivan County, the coniferous forest along Fir
Brook features nesting Blackburnian, Yellow-rumped and Magnolia
Warblers, and Alder Flycatchers, White-throated Sparrow
and Winter Wrens. Both Crossbills have been found
here. Watch and listen for Ravens. Take Exit 98 from
Rt 17 at Parksville, drive northeast on Rt 85/84 past Cooley
to Willowemoc; about 1 mile past Willowemoc, turn right
on Pole Rd. Stop frequently along this tiny road,
and you will be rewarded.
New York City Reservoirs (PERMIT REQUIRED)
The Neversink Reservoir
is entirely in Sullivan County, and the upper third of Rondout
Reservoir is in the county. Both are excellent
places to see eagles, and are resting spots for migrating
loons, grebes, gulls, ducks and geese.
If you will be stopping along the main roads adjacent
to either reservoir, you will need to obtain a Public Access
Permit from the New York City Department of Environmental
Protection. (Contact the DEP Public Access Permit Unit,
71 Smith Ave, Kingston, NY 12401 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
A Birding Guide to Sullivan County, New York, including the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area by John Haas
This fully revised third edition of John Haas' book (published 2013) provides the most up to date information on where and when to find birds in Sullivan County with a special focus on the Basha Kill. John includes a new set of photos that show common species, as well as some of the extreme rarities that have been seen in the area. He includes an updated checklist of birds that reflects the new species that have been sighted in the area.
For more information, or to order the book, visit the Basha Kill Area Asoociation website.