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Trail Reports

Insights on trail conditions and the plants and animals you can expect to encounter throughout the seasons.

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Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 83°F, partly cloudy, breezy, and not quite as humid as yesterday at 11:30 AM on July 19, 2017.
  • This week's trail report covers the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
  • Invasive black swallowwort was forming seed pods.
  • As for butterflies: northern broken-dash was out in numbers today; black swallowtail was new.

The Trails

  • It was pretty warm, but not too humid as I headed towards the Carriage House.
  • In the trees straight ahead an eastern bluebird was calling.
  • Right next to the Carriage House, green-headed coneflower was blooming.
  • A monarch glided through the Scots Pine Aleé and paused a while in the sun. Their numbers are better this year than last, but still down some 80% over 20 years.
  • Just off the edge of the field was bee balm, so favored by hummingbirds.
  • Butterfly weed, a milkweed species, was not far away.
  • A dark shape in the tall grass caught my eye: a black swallowtail.
  • Something else dark caught my eye in the Little Bluestem Meadow: black swallowwort all in a tangle. Monarchs recognize that it is related to milkweed and will lay their eggs on it, but it is fatal to the caterpillars.
  • The almost black flowers resemble those of milkweed, although they're not in ball.
  • Also similar are the swallow-tail-like pairs of pods. At this point they will mature even if removed.
  • Up ahead, another milkweed relative, spreading dogbane, was popular among great spangled fritillaries.
  • Silver-spotted skippers were in roughly equal numbers.
  • Less obvious were the smaller skippers, mostly dun and northern broken-dash - two of the three difficult to tell apart "witches".
  • In the Fern Glen, tall bellflower was being visited by a little green bee.
  • Spikenard was just beginning to bloom.
  • Wood nettle had a similar leaf, but one encounter is often enough to make the distinction.
  • It was just beginning to form its male flowers.
  • Back in the fens, swamp milkweed was blooming and being attended by "witches", mostly dun skippers.
  • Fall webworm was in the elderberry off the board walk's observation area.
  • Right next to it was a single blossom of square-stemmed monkey flower.
  • On one of the quieter paths, water parsnip, a recent arrival, was getting ready to bloom.
  • Below the deck over the creek was a pale blue flutter: a spring azure laying eggs on horsebalm.
  • A red admiral barged in and claimed a leaf in the sun.
  • By the little foot bridge, an ebony jewelwing was more refined in achieving the same.
  • At the front of the pond, lizard's tail was sweetening the air.
  • Wild mint you could smell when it was brushed against.
  • Around the corner, long awaited Turk's-cap lily had opened.
  • The cool, quiet Cary Pines trail lead to the "Appendix", where a blue jay had become a meal for perhaps a hawk.
  • All around in front of the bench, little volcanos had errupted. They were the homes of little burrowing bees.
  • Next week: the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
Black Swallowtail

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Chimney Swift
  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 3 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 1 Blue Jay
  • 4 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 American Robin
  • 1 Louisiana Waterthrush
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 Chipping Sparrow
  • 1 Field Sparrow
Butterflies
  • 1 Black Swallowtail
  • 2 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 3 Cabbage White
  • 1 Clouded Sulphur
  • 1 Orange Sulphur
  • 1 Spring Azure
  • 14 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 5 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Red Admiral
  • 1 Red-spotted Purple
  • 1 Little Wood-Satyr
  • 2 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 1 Monarch
  • 11 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Northern Broken-Dash
  • 7 Dun Skipper
Plants
  • 1 Bee balm
  • 1 Black swallowwort
  • 1 Butterfly weed
  • 1 Green-headed coneflower
  • 1 Spikenard
  • 1 Square-stemmed monkey-flower
  • 1 Tall bellflower
  • 1 Turk's-cap lily
Moth
  • 1 Hummingbird Clearwing
  • 2 Snowberry Clearwing

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 80°F, cloudy, calm, and humid at 1:00 PM on July 12, 2017.
  • This week's trail report covers the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
  • In spite of it being a gray day, it was warm and butterflies were out and about.
  • New butterflies included question mark, mulberry wing and black dash.

The Trails

  • It was a cloudy but steamy July day in the Gifford hayfields.
  • The warmth was good enough to bring out plenty of skippers to study, like a female dun skipper.
  • The warm background color and bright yellow "airplane" make the mulberry wing easy. The low, slow, fluttery flight helps confirm the ID.
  • Similar to the female dun is the female northern broken-dash but the spots are bigger and there is a touch of orange along the edge of the wing near the base.
  • The male broken-dash has much more orange above but shares with the female the thick, pale hindwing spot band below.
  • An easy moth was a relief: the dogbane tiger moth.
  • All kinds of insects cause galls. The goldenrod ball gall is from the larva of the Goldenrod Gall Fly.
  • It looked a little big for a comma; indeed it was a question mark.
  • Common wood-nymphs were in constant motion today. One finally perched along the Sedge Meadow Trail.
  • Orange and electric blue help ID the Virginia ctneucha in the back Old Hayfield.
  • A constant "Chip!" in the weeds of the back Old Hayfield was from a common yellowthroat.
  • I always wonder if the bench gets much use.
  • Today a common whitetail was using it.
  • In the back, the Canada lily was hiding under the honeysuckle berries.
  • Dogbane beetles were out in the dogbane.
  • The elusive coral hairstreak made a special appearance on milkweed.
  • Just one more less common skipper today was the black dash.
  • Northern pearly-eyes were hanging out on big trees on the Wappinger Creek Trail.
  • Invasive Japanese spiraea was blooming.
  • Finally a female Gypsy moth - they don't fly well, but the dark brown males have been flying around for a week or two.
  • Next week: the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
Canada Lily

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 3 Chimney Swift
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 2 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 3 Blue Jay
  • 2 American Crow
  • 1 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 Wood Thrush
  • 3 American Robin
  • 3 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Louisiana Waterthrush
  • 2 Common Yellowthroat
  • 1 Scarlet Tanager
  • 3 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 Field Sparrow
  • 2 Song Sparrow
  • 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • 2 Indigo Bunting
  • 3 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 13 Cabbage White
  • 1 Coral Hairstreak
  • 49 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 1 Question Mark
  • 1 Eastern Comma
  • 1 Red Admiral
  • 4 Northern Pearly-eye
  • 1 Appalachian Brown
  • 10 Little Wood-Satyr
  • 22 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 1 Monarch
  • 28 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 25 Northern Broken-Dash
  • 1 Little Glassywing
  • 2 Mulberry Wing
  • 2 Black Dash
  • 6 Dun Skipper
Moth
  • 1 Dogbane Tiger Moth
  • 1 Gypsy Moth
  • 1 Virginia Ctenucha

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