August, 2014 - Trail Report Archive

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 83°F, and hazy with light breezes at 12:00 PM on August 27, 2014.
  • Northern pearly-eye was one of several butterflies that seem to be on the wing past their usual season.
  • Another dreaded invasive, Japanese knotweed, was in bloom.

The Trails

  • On the warm up lap around Gifford parking lot, I wondered if the milkweed aphids were a bit heavy this year.
  • The next question was if we'd soon be seeing a lot more lady bug larvae... or adults.
  • It looked fallsy across the front Old Hayfield, but it didn't feel it - not with 80s and the humidity.
  • On the dry side of the Sedge Meadow Trail was an unusual butterfly-like thing.
  • On the wet side was another: two northern pearly-eyes flying about in apparent argument. Some butterflies are territorial and investigate any passerby, courting females and driving off rivals. NPEs seem committed to that practice.
  • A more cooperative group was on the Wappinger Creek Trail: researchers dragging for ticks.
  • On the other side of the creek, a patch of Japanese knotweed was blooming.
  • This vigorous invasive has distinctive leaves that make ID easy even when not in flower. It spreads more by root than by seed.
  • A noise in the leaves at my feet drew my attention - a sneaky American green frog was getting closer to the creek... just to make sure.
  • A puff of gray off the side of the Cary Pines Trail was all that was left of a yellow jacket's nest that had been a meal for something else.
  • Near the front of the Fern Glen pond, bottle gentian was blooming. It's also called closed gentian...
  • Just behind it, turtlehead was about to bloom - I'm not sure I remember it being in this location.
  • Back in the fen, rough-leaved goldenrod was blooming. It's large basal leaves and wet habitat makes this goldenrod easy to ID.
  • The leaves always made me think it was witchhazel, but the little cones meant alder.
  • And the little orange butterfly I saw on the woolly aphids Monday had to be the harvester - our only carnivorous butterfly: it's caterpillar feeds on woolly aphids.
  • On the other side of the boardwalk, tiny water speedwell was blooming.
  • Even tinier was the blossom of arrow-leaved tearthumb.
  • Also in the mix of tiny things was purple-leaved willow herb.
  • Interesting is how red the blossom is before it opens.
  • The posture of swamp milkweed pods is interesting and is one feature setting it apart from common milkweed.
  • Back towards the kiosk, cardinal flower took me by surprise.
  • Almost the same color were jack-in-the-pulit berries right next to it.
  • Right by the kiosk was zigzag goldenrod.
  • The roundish lower leaves and dry woods location are more obvious to me than the namesake kinky stem.
  • I paused in the Old Gravel Pit to see what might be traveling with a noisy pack of chickadees and titmice - the dragonfly was not what I had in mind, but it sat right in front of me - the prairy warbler did not...
  • Farther along, one of those real big dragonflies stopped and hung out just long enough.
  • I would have liked to sit and enjoy the view and warm, pine scented breezes along the Scotch Pine Alleé, but...

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 4 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 4 Blue Jay
  • 9 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Brown Creeper
  • 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • 1 Wood Thrush
  • 3 American Robin
  • 3 Gray Catbird
  • 2 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Prairie Warbler
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 9 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 1 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 19 Cabbage White
  • 10 Clouded Sulphur
  • 6 Orange Sulphur
  • 29 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 14 Pearl Crescent
  • 3 Northern Pearly-eye
  • 9 Common Ringlet
  • 2 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 22 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 2 Peck's Skipper
  • 1 Mulberry Wing
  • 2 Zabulon Skipper
Plants
  • 1 Arrow-leaved tearthumb
  • 1 Bottle gentian
  • 1 Cardinal flower
  • 1 Japanese knotweed
  • 1 Purple-leaved willow herb
  • 1 Round-leaved goldenrod
  • 1 Water speedwell
  • 1 Zigzag goldenrod

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 80°F, partly cloudy with light breezes at 1:15 PM on August 20, 2014.
  • The second monarch on the Trails this season was a welcome sight.
  • Oh horror, black swallowwort pods were beginning to open!

The Trails

  • A loop around the Gifford parking lot to check the milkweed turned up an interesting wasp apparently licking up aphid honeydew.
  • The thistles between Gifford House and the Carriage House were being worked over by several American goldfinch.
  • A blur in the air behind the Carriage House was clearly a skipper. A little patience and binoculars proved it to be a zabulon skipper.
  • Good grief, how many times have I walked by this spot and never noticed the black swallowwort?
  • Over 20 stalks were coming up out of one spot. Hmmm, that's about how many seeds are in a pod... I've counted 150-200 pods0 on just one good size plant.
  • Speaking of pods, some of these were past yellow and actually starting to split open.
  • I'm glad I found this in time. I hope it was the only one in the field. Yeah, right...
  • On a more hopeful note, the shadow passing over head in the Old Gravel Pit was that of a monarch - the second one I've seen here this season.
  • At the edge of the Fern Glen pond, ants were tending leaf hoppers on Joe-pye weed. I presume they secrete something sweet that ants covet.
  • Towards the back of the pond, NY ironweed was tall and blooming.
  • A cherry on a side trail had some very interesting caterpillars With no abdominal "legs" they were clearly loopers of some sort. But I didn't recall loopers living communally. And the patterns and bumps seemed peculiar as well. A quick flip through Wagner didn't turn up anything definite, but emeralds seemed possible. Some delicate green moths that show up at porch lights are of that group.
  • Along the Sedge Meadow Trail, there was no doubt that I was looking at white turtlehead. I'm not sure I'd seen it there before.
  • The back Old Hayfield was truely buzzing with activity. I stood a while surrounded by goldenrods and just watched and listened to the countless bees and other insects around me.
  • I would have liked to stay longer, but I had an appointment.
Unidentified wasp

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Mourning Dove
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 2 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 5 Blue Jay
  • 8 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 8 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 House Wren
  • 6 American Robin
  • 2 Gray Catbird
  • 3 Pine Warbler
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 3 Northern Cardinal
  • 7 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 1 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 14 Cabbage White
  • 6 Clouded Sulphur
  • 14 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 19 Pearl Crescent
  • 8 Common Ringlet
  • 2 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 1 Monarch
  • 4 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Least Skipper
  • 1 Peck's Skipper
  • 2 Zabulon Skipper
Plants
  • 1 Black swallowwort (pods ripe)
  • 1 New York ironweed
  • 1 Turtlehead

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