Where to Find Birds
in Sullivan County
Last updated 5/21/14

Bashakill (with map)D&H Canal Towpath Linear ParkEagle-finding
Mongaup Pond
Morningside ParkNeversink Gorge
NYC ReservoirsTown of Thompson ParkWalnut Mt. Park
Driving Routes:  Fir Brook Villa Roma/BeechwoodsWoodstock

BOOK:  A Birding Guide to Sullivan County, New York by John Haas NEW 5/21/14

1. 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.

Trail Map

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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 Bashakill birding.

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 birding.

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 area.

2. Eagle-finding areas

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 Eagle 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 County.

3. Parks

A. 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.

Trail Map

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B. Other County and Town Parks:

Walnut 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.

Morningside 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.

Town 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

The 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.

Mongaup 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

A. 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.

B. 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.

C. 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.

5. 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 permits@water.dep.nyc.ny.us).

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.