April 02, 2014

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 55°F and partly cloudy with light breezes at 3:00 PM on April 2, 2014.
  • With this past winter's extensive snow and ice lingering on the trails, opening of the grounds has been delayed from April 1 until this coming Saturday, April 5.
  • This is the first report of this long awaited season.
  • What better way to start than with a butterfly - a mourning cloak?

The Trails

  • Snow banks were still lingering at the edge of Gifford House parking lot.
  • A slight fuzziness in the branches behind the Carriage House raised my hopes.
  • Yes, there was life stirring in the magnolia blossoms!
  • I promised myself I would look up their condition at this time in 2012 - that ridiculously early spring. There was no mention... the blossoms had already peaked the week before.
  • Though winter was long with a lot of snow, there was not much damage along the trails. A few old dead trees were leaning a little more than last season.
  • Shady spots in the woods still held on to patches of snow and ice.
  • The bottom of the Old Gravel Pit had only a few inches of water.
  • The Fern Glen pond was active with backswimmers and water striders on the surface.
  • At the back of the pond, marsh marigold was just unfurling its leaves.
  • Skunk cabbage nearby was flowering and pushing up its leaf rolls.
  • Motion on the opposite shore caught my eye: a mourning cloak coming in to bask! That made Spring official in my book.
  • The newt I'd seen was not to be found again, but there was a fat pollywog lazing in the sun.
  • And at the usual spot near shore, the usual painted turtle was ignoring the usual guy with the camera.
  • At the Acid Rain kiosk, a pretty large branch was down. Actually, it was more like half the tree. This was the most dramatic winter damage on the trails.
  • From there straight to the Wappinger Creek is the area I like to call the "Appendix". Trail marker 10 should remove any doubt. Half a dozen mallards were preening there today.
  • A little farther upstream, a pair of common mergansers almost slipped by unnoticed.
  • The low, late day sun added a little something to my favorite view from the bluff above the creek.
  • Two weeks ago, the hill at the Sedge Meadow Trail boardwalk was still under half a foot of snow.
  • The sound of red-winged blackbirds was all around, but when I zoomed in on tree full of them, they turned out to be brown-headed cowbirds.
  • Some birds are known to be more difficult to locate by their call than others, but ventriloquism?
Snow banks
Magnolia buds
Old dead cedar
Ice in the shade
Bottom of the Old Gravel Pit
Water strider
Marsh marigold
Skunk cabbage
Mourning cloak
Painted turtle
Big fallen branch
Common mergansers
View from the bluff over Wappinger Creek
Sedge Meadow Trail boardwalk
Brown-headed cowbirds


  • 2 Wood Duck
  • 6 Mallard
  • 2 Common Merganser
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 7 Eastern Phoebe
  • 1 American Crow
  • 20 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 3 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 3 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 4 American Robin
  • 1 Song Sparrow
  • 3 Dark-eyed Junco
  • 2 Northern Cardinal
  • 10 Red-winged Blackbird
  • 50 Brown-headed Cowbird
  • 2 American Goldfinch
  • 1 Mourning Cloak

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