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Trail Reports

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

BarryMeet Barry, the author of our trail reports >>

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 47°F and misting with light breezes at 11:30 PM on May 4, 2016.
  • The cool, damp weather of late had kept typically short lived spring flowers in bloom.
  • Black-and-white warbler and ovenbird were back.
  • No butterflies were seen at all.

The Trails

  • The forecast was not much better for any day this week, so I headed out into the mist and crossed Gifford House's front Old Hayfield.
  • On the Sedge Meadow Trail, honeysuckle was fully leafed out with swelling flower buds while native gray dogwood in the background was barely opening its leaves.
  • From a distance shaggy orange balls could be seen decorating the cedars ahead.
  • They were the bizarre fungal cedar rust galls.
  • Off the side of the boardwalk was a clump of violets.
  • The zoom lens got us in close and personal.
  • Across the back Old Hayfield, the flowering dogwood didn't look much more advanced than last week.
  • Again, zooming in showed that there had been some progress.
  • The recent rains, though mostly light, have been enough to fill up the Wappinger Creek.
  • At the bottom of the hill, a lighter color in the leaves caught my attention.
  • Big wood chips like this I've seen before...
  • Directly above was the work site of a pileated woodpecker.
  • Down along the creek, I heard the Louisiana waterthrush and noticed a white bump on a stump at the water's edge.
  • It was a young shelf fungus. Last year's got pretty big...
  • Cut-leaved toothwort was just a few steps ahead. The cool, damp weather has helped keep this flower around for a nice while.
  • On the slope up to the sugarbush, a glint of purple was from the first gaywings to bloom.
  • Down in the floodplain, invasive narrow-leaved bittercress was beginning to send up its flower stalk.
  • The Canada mayflower made quite the ground cover on the Cary Pines Trail.
  • Mixed in, here and there, was starflower, just budding up.
  • In the Fern Glen, Jack-in-the-pulpit had errupted since the last time.
  • Another strange flower like skunk cabbage composed of spathe and spadix.
  • Back in the fen, rhodora was starting to bloom.
  • Closer to the soil, leatherleaf had already started.
  • Little bog rosemary was already with the program.
  • Highbush blueberry was ready to burst, in fact just a few had.
  • In another corner, tiny goldthread was well on the way.
  • Way in the back, the long awaited yellow lady's-slipper was beginning to unroll leaves.
  • By the deck over the Creek, toothwort was again having a great season.
  • A surprise along the road was golden ragwort; interestingly there was no such advanced stages in sunnier locations elsewhere.
  • Another surprise was finding a beaver at work last week. Felling a tree was one thing to watch... dragging it away was another. All that remained was a stump
  • On the way out of the 'Glen stood another dogwood.
  • Something was a little odd about its form - after the first branch, almost everything was gone.
  • In the Old Gravel Pit, honeysuckle was even further along.
  • At the Carriage House end of the Scots Pine Alleé, American goldfinch were overhead.
  • Behind the Carriage House, fothergilla had barely begun to bloom.
  • With wet feet and my car in sight, it was hard to stop for the Bradford pear, but I wanted to verify it was the source of that punky fragrance in the air.
Cedar Rust Gall

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Mourning Dove
  • 2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 3 Eastern Phoebe
  • 2 Blue Jay
  • 3 American Crow
  • 4 Common Raven
  • 1 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 6 American Robin
  • 2 European Starling
  • 1 Pine Warbler
  • 1 Black-and-white Warbler
  • 5 Ovenbird
  • 2 Louisiana Waterthrush
  • 1 Common Yellowthroat
  • 4 Eastern Towhee
  • 3 Chipping Sparrow
  • 1 Field Sparrow
  • 2 Red-winged Blackbird
  • 1 House Finch
  • 5 American Goldfinch
Plants
  • 1 Bog rosemary
  • 1 Bradford pear
  • 1 Fothergilla
  • 1 Gaywings
  • 1 Golden ragwort
  • 1 Goldthread
  • 1 High bush blueberry
  • 1 Honeysuckle
  • 1 Jack-in-the-pulpit
  • 1 Leatherleaf
  • 1 Rhodora

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 60°F, clear and breezy at 2:15 PM on April 27, 2016.
  • More new spring flowers were blooming.
  • Yellow lady's-slipper shoots were coming up.
  • Juvinal's duskywing was back and spring azures were still abundant.

The Trails

  • The mud puddles on the drive between Gifford and Carriage Houses had attracted our first skipper: Juvinal's duskywing.
  • It was nice to get the view from below for the two (hard to see) diagnostic hindwing pale spots.
  • At the end of the Scots Pine Alleé, an otherwise bare tree was host to an eastern tent caterpillar nest.
  • Wondering if they had stripped it or if the leaves had even come out yet, I found the egg masses that they had come from.
  • Little blue spring azures were common in the Old Gravel Pit. One paused to take nectar from garlic mustard, showing only its gray underside.
  • Nearby, one of those fuzzy bee flies paused to take some sun. That long proboscis is used on flowers...
  • Approaching the exit to the Fern Glen, I almost stepped on a wasp carying her paralysed spider to her den to lay eggs.
  • Off the road to the Fern Glen, the pink of crabapple was barely visible.
  • Zooming the lens in made the blossoms look more abundant.
  • And it helped find the regular apple behind it.
  • At the edge of the 'Glen, hobblebush, a viburnum, was looking very nice.
  • Miterwort, or bishop's cap, with its bizzare, tiny blossoms, was beginning to carpet the area.
  • Red trillium, barely budding last week, was full open now.
  • One of Mrs. Cary's mystery flowers was blooming across from the limestone cobble.
  • At the edge of the cobble, wild oats, one of our 3 species of uvularia, was blooming.
  • Around the bend, nodding trillium was doing just that.
  • Looking like some alien artifact, maidenhair fern was unfurling .
  • Wild blue pholx looked much more friendly in its earlier stages.
  • Deer adore Solomon's seal just before it blooms.
  • Blue cohosh is a good sized plant, but with a small, obscure flower.
  • Goldenseal has a very short-lived flower, if I recall.
  • I knew Paris was nearby, but a rustle in the leaves distracted me: a garter snake.
  • And there was Paris too. What a strange thing - another hold over from earlier times.
  • Scaley Christmas fern fiddleheads were just off the side of the trail.
  • Lo and behold! The trillium, toadshade had finally worked its way out from under a tree that came down several years ago.
  • Here comes the yelow lady's-slipper. It may be the most popular plant in the 'Glen.
  • Back around near the kiosk, mayapple was budding up.
  • On the way out, I found last week's budding Jacob's ladder now starting to bloom.
  • Just across was starry false Solomon's seal just budding up. Maybe next week?
  • Out on the Wappinger Creek Trail, small-flowered crowfoot would have been easy to overlook if not for its abundance.
  • In the back of the back Old Hayfield, Japanese barberry was in the air.
  • Across at the other side, flowering dogwood was just barely starting to bloom.
  • A pleasant last sight for the day was another spring azure, again taking nectar from garlic mustard, but this time showing off her sky blue upper side while catching some afternoon sun. The dark forewing margin indicated she was a she...
Maidenhair Fern Fiddlehead

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Wood Duck
  • 3 Mourning Dove
  • 1 Barred Owl
  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 4 Blue Jay
  • 6 Tree Swallow
  • 3 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 7 American Robin
  • 1 Pine Warbler
  • 1 Louisiana Waterthrush
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 4 Chipping Sparrow
  • 3 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 2 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 3 Cabbage White
  • 29 Spring Azure
  • 2 Eastern Comma
  • 1 Mourning Cloak
  • 1 Juvenal's Duskywing
Caterpillars
  • 1 Eastern tent caterpillar
Plants
  • 1 Apple
  • 1 Blue cohosh
  • 1 Crabapple
  • 1 Flowering dogwood
  • 1 Goldenseal
  • 1 Hobble-bush
  • 1 Jacob's ladder
  • 1 Japanese barberry
  • 1 Miterwort
  • 1 Mystery plant
  • 1 Nodding trillium
  • 1 Paris
  • 1 Red trillium
  • 1 Small-flowered crowfoot
  • 1 Wild blue phlox
  • 1 Wild oats

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