August 15, 2012

Notes and changes since last report:

  • 77°F, partly cloudy and calm at 13:30 AM, turning cloudy and breezy.
  • It was a day of one thing leading to another.
  • One butterfly today was a first of the season for me.
  • Another was new to my list for Cary.

The Trails

  • Right at the edge of the Gifford House parking lot was a hickory tussock moth caterpillar. Handsome and common every year.
  • The goldenrods that were starting in the front Old Hayfield last week were cranking up this week.
  • A pair of American goldfinch was in the spotted knapweed and allowed me to get fairly close.
  • Dark clumps of goldenrod leaves dotted the field. We're used to galls being extra plant growth promoted by a larva within. Here the goldenrod midge inhibits stem growth between the leaves, which continue to form normally but bunched together to form a nursery.
  • As I was leaving this field, something too large and fast caught my eye. A common buckeye! They were indeed common last year and I'd hoped to see a few this year. Til now there'd only been a report of one on the grounds a couple weeks ago.
  • While chasing that for a photo, I was interrupted by two skippers arguing. I'd noted the Peck's before, but the new comer had a bit more yellow than the zabulon I first took it for... it was a fiery skipper, male. This is a southern species that has been reported in the area for a couple years now. This was a new one for my list at Cary.
  • After chasing that for a while I continued on to the Sedge Meadow Trail where a lacewing posed very obligingly. I'd just noticed its stalk mounted eggs when it came into view. Its larva resembles that of the ladybug - a little alligator famous for eating aphids.
  • Behind the Sedge Meadow, a male zabulon skipper perched in a patch of sun right in front of me. I couldn't refuse. And now we can go back and compare the fiery skipper...
  • White snakeroot was beginning to bloom. This "enthusiastic" native doesn't seem quite as dense as usual this year.
  • In the Old Pasture, gray dogwood berries were ripening. I remember these fondly (now...) as ammunition at the school bus stop.
  • Along the Wappinger Creek Trail, another tussock moth caterpillar stood out against the truck of a tree: the definite tussock moth. The female moth is wingless. The young caterpillars, like some spiders, sail away on a strand of silk.
  • Fungi were popping up in small numbers in many places.
  • A pair of carolina wrens challenged me as I went through the flood plain.
  • At the Fern Glen pond, ostrich fern gave a tropical look.
  • I zoomed in on the painted turtle and bull frog on the mat of hornwort.
  • Along the edge of the pond, elderberry was ripening.
  • And bottle gentian was blooming - yes, that's it.
  • Also present was Virginia knotweed or jumpseed - referring to the vigorous departure of the little seeds when brushed against.
  • Sneezeweed was now in full bloom at the back of the pond. At first I didn't recognize a red cultivated variety in a friend's garden until its elegant name, Helenium, started to ring a bell.
  • Then I became aware that all around it spicebush berries were beginning to turn.
  • And in the middle of all of them I noticed our almost forgotten wahoo - a native Euonymous.
  • "Why are those leaves stuck together?" I wondered, "There on the left..." A silver-spotted skipper caterpillar was in there!
  • All the way at the back of the pond were more red berries - Jack-in-the-pulpit. And with one of the stink bug nymphs that we have been seeing in such numbers this year.
  • On the other side of the pond, great lobelia was lining the path...
  • ...the path out and back home.
Hickory tussock moth caterpillar
American goldfinch
Goldenrod bunch gall
Common buckeye
Fiery skipper
Fiery skipper
Fiery skipper
Zabulon skipper
White snakeroot
Gray dogwood
Definite tussock moth caterpillar
Carolina wren
Ostrich fern at the Fern Glen pond
Painted turtle and bull frog
Bottle gentian
Jumpseed or Virginia knotweed
Jumpseed or Virginia knotweed
Spicebush berries
Wahoo berries
Silver-spotted caterpillar
Jack-in-the-pulpit berries
Great lobelia


  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 3 Blue Jay
  • 3 American Crow
  • 4 Tree Swallow
  • 13 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Carolina Wren
  • 5 American Robin
  • 6 Gray Catbird
  • 4 Cedar Waxwing
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 6 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Red-winged Blackbird
  • 9 American Goldfinch
  • 1 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 4 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 45 Cabbage White
  • 4 Clouded Sulphur
  • 2 Orange Sulphur
  • 10 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 6 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Painted Lady
  • 1 Common Buckeye
  • 1 Red-spotted Purple
  • 1 Viceroy
  • 1 Common Ringlet
  • 11 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 7 Monarch
  • 32 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 4 Least Skipper
  • 1 Fiery Skipper
  • 4 Peck's Skipper
  • 1 Tawny-edged Skipper
  • 4 Zabulon Skipper
  • 1 Dun Skipper
  • 1 Hickory Tussock Moth
  • 1 Definite Tussock Moth
  • 1 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Hummingbird Clearwing
  • 1 Snowberry Clearwing
  • 1 Yellow-collared scape moth
  • 1 Bottle gentian
  • 1 Great lobelia
  • 1 Jumpseed
  • 1 White snakeroot

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