6/18/16 – Birding the Bashakill by Boat

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~A Red-winged Blackbird strikes a pose at the Bashakill WMA, 6/18/16.~

I broke out the kayak for the first time of the year this morning. I put in at the Bashakill’s Deli Fields boat launch just before 7:00 am and headed northeast, thus starting what ended up being a six hour paddle. I was hoping for some decent photographs, and I had three target birds for the morning: Pied-billed Grebe, Common Gallinule, and Least Bittern. Actually, the Least Bittern was my main goal, and I would have been happy just to catch a glimpse since I have never even seen this bird yet. Pied-billed Grebes, unfortunately were a no-show. Common Gallinules were vocal and I eventually caught a glimpse of one bird, but I was unable to get any photos. I had an interesting brush with a Least Bittern; early on in my paddle, I heard one calling. I followed the sound and eventually pinpointed where it was coming from. Unfortunately, the bird was in very thick vegetation with almost no visibility. I tried to see if I could approach it from the other side, but again the vegetation was too dense. It was both exciting and frustrating; the bird was so close but as I tried to wait it out, I started to realize how unlikely it would be for the bird to come out into the channel. After a while the bird went quiet and I decided to continue with my paddle (I eventually heard a second Least Bittern, but this one was distant and deep into the vegetation).

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~One of MANY Wood Ducks seen while paddling out at the Bashakill WMA, 6/18/16.~ 

I ended up paddling all the way to Haven Road; I had many birds along the way but most of them were heard and not seen. I passed underneath the Bald Eagles’ nest and heard the young calling. Further on, I saw an adult Osprey perched just off the nest. At one point, I watched a Cooper’s Hawk fly clear across the Bash with Red-winged Blackbirds on its tail. The hawk never flew more than a foot above the vegetation as it bobbed and weaved trying to ditch the blackbirds. At Haven Road I paddled to the east side of the Bash, hoping to hear the Hooded Warbler that has been in that area, which I did, and then, to my surprise I also heard a Barred Owl calling in the distance. And then right after that, I had a pair of Red-shouldered hawks flying above the trees.

I turned around and meandered my way back to the Deli Fields boat launch. I figure that I probably paddled nearly 10 miles in 6 hours and I was sore, mostly in my back. I ended up with 54 species for the day, which didn’t seem too bad to me.

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~Eastern Kingbird at the Bashakill, 6/18/16.~ 
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~I haven’t taken many Great Blue Heron photos yet this year, I love shoot them at the Bashakill with all the heavy vegetation. 6/18/16.

4 thoughts on “6/18/16 – Birding the Bashakill by Boat”

  1. Matt,
    Glad you had a great day at the Bashakill. I know photo opportunities are tough at the Bash sometimes. Can you give me an idea where you heard the Least Bitterns? I spent the morning on the Bash in my kayak, but did not connect with them. I know they will soon be more active once chicks are out, but any pointers are appreciated. Thanks, John

    1. John,
      The first LEBI was between the Nature Trail and the Horseshoe. I’m sure you know the channel that comes off of the main channel (first right if you are coming from the Deli Fields), the bird was on the right side maybe 200 yards from where it rejoins the main channel. The second LEBI was just to the east of the main boat launch. I was in the main channel and my guess is that the bird was maybe halfway to the east side of the Bash. Call me if this isn’t clear. Matt

      1. Excellent Matt! These are both known nesting locations. I went out he other day, but didn’t bet a Least. I covered the one area east of the MBL, but there were many fisherman on the other end, so I passed it over. I will be out looking for them one day this week. Thanks for letting me know! John

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