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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 52°F, cloudy and breezy at 2:00 PM on April 18, 2018.
  • This is the first trail report of the season. It was a snowy winter; storm damage was considerable and spring has been slow to arrive.
  • This week's trail report covers the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
  • Inspite of the cold and rain (and snow), the Fern Glen has progressed over just a few days.
  • And on sunny days in recent weeks, a few mourning cloaks and eastern commas have been out.

The Trails

  • It didn't look - or feel - much like spring at the Gifford House's Old Hayfield trail head.
  • With major winter damage taken care of, minor road repairs were in progress on the road to the Carriage House.
  • There, magnolia blossoms were testing the air. Careful... a freeze will do them in.
  • At the start of the Scots Pine Allée, Japanese cornelian cherry was looking peak.
  • It's actually a dogwood.
  • But the fruit does resemble a cherry.
  • The view down the Scots Pine Allée was calm and peaceful. Not so a couple weeks ago with scattered branches and leaning trunks crossing the path.
  • The trail through the Old Gravel Pit had gotten off light with little damage.
  • A small, dark green shrub caught my eye.
  • This sure looked like a holly. I presume it escaped from cultivation - I know of no native like this. To the books...
  • The patch of club moss had overwintered well.
  • Finally, the Fern Glen came into view.
  • But first, a look at the American hazel nut across the street was in order.
  • The male catkins were out, but the tiny, red female flowers were not to be seen.
  • Over in the beds by the pond, Dutchman's breeches was budding up.
  • Sharp-lobed hepatica was up and waiting for a little sun to open.
  • They range from white through pink to blue. I like the hairy stems on all of them.
  • Early meadow rue was errupting.
  • The stump at the left was all that remained of the tree that came down on bridge at the back of the pond.
  • Swamp marigold survived the tree falling and the bridge repairs. Invasive Japanese primrose in the back will not survive when I get back.
  • Right at the edge of the bridge, coltsfoot was blooming.
  • And skunk cabbage was everywhere.
  • Behind the kiosk, false hellebore was pushing up leaves.
  • Farther down the path, ramps were coming up.
  • The deck, unfortunately, was coming down. The root ball of a fallen tree had nudged the corner off the block.
  • Speckled alder was sporting male catkins, little red female flowers, and last years cones.
  • Back at the pond, trillium leaves were unfolding.
  • The water was clear and worth studying.
  • Amphibian egg masses dotted the bottom of the pond.
  • Water striders were skimming the surface, but no newts were to be seen in between.
  • The Cary Pines Trail had quite a bit of winter damage.
  • previous winter's damage was still evident.
  • In places, it was interesting to observe the layers of damage from over the years. This trail gets pounded
  • Next week: the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
Sharp-lobed hepatica

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Barred Owl
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 3 Blue Jay
  • 1 Winter Wren
Insects
  • 1 Water strider
Plants
  • 1 American hazelnut
  • 1 Coltsfoot
  • 1 Japanese cornelian cherry
  • 1 Sharp-lobed hepatica
  • 1 Skunk cabbage
  • 1 Speckled alder

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 60°F, cloudy and calm at 2:15 PM on October 25, 2017.
  • This week's trail report covers the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
  • Leaves were down after yesterday's rain, but those remaining were looking good.
  • This is the last trail report of the season with the grounds closing Nov. 1 and reopening April 1, 2018, conditions permitting...

The Trails

  • The sky was constantly changing over the Old Hayfield by Gifford House.
  • A downy woodpecker landed in the tall dead branches.
  • Even after seeing a song sparrow drop into the dead walnut leaves, it was hard to spot.
  • Behind the Carriage House, Stewartia's rich, red leaves were hard to miss.
  • The view across the Little Bluestem Meadow had some color in it.
  • The sky over the meadow was boiling with occasional patches of blue.
  • Blue was somewhere, but not over Gifford House.
  • Zooming in for a last look of the season showed the oaks had a way to go yet.
  • In the Old Gravel Pit, a stick on the ground had several types of fungus including one of the strange jelly fungi.
  • From the locust ridge, yellow leaves of sumac were stark against a dark background.
  • And sugar maple had tinges of orange in its yellow.
  • For another brief moment, sun lit the path in front of me.
  • The Norway Spruce Glade above the Fern Glen had been brush hogged.
  • At the edge of the 'Glen, hobblebush leaves were taking on interesting color patterns.
  • Along side, striped maple was a solid pale yellow.
  • Across the street, pinxter azalea was indeed pink and sporting next year's buds.
  • Over the stone bridge, sassafras was an orange that was almost red.
  • A surprise near the deck was miterwort in bloom - it flowers normally in early spring.
  • The leaf shape was odd, but the color was recognizable in the maple-leaved viburnum near the limestone cobble.
  • Yet another distinct yellow was in the leaves of spicebush .
  • Then it was off on the Cary Pines Trail where a white speck stood out on a hemlock.
  • It was a false hemlock looper moth.
  • Movement on the ground drew my attention: it was a squirrel in a comical pose.
  • Next season: the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
Gray Squirrel

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 2 American Crow
  • 4 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • 2 American Robin
  • 1 Song Sparrow
Butterflies
  • 1 Clouded Sulphur
  • 2 Orange Sulphur
Plants
  • 1 Miterwort
Moth
  • 1 False hemlock looper moth

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