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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 63°F, cloudy and calm at 1:45 PM on October 2, 2014.
  • 0.2" of rain yesterday barely greened some of the plants, but it did soften the sound of foot steps and brought smells into the air.
  • Fall colors continued to intensify.
  • I saw my first junco of the season.

The Trails

  • In spite of the forecast, clouds lingered all afternoon, making for some dramatic landscapes.
  • On the approach to the Carriage House, pokeweed had berries green, ripe, and eaten.
  • At the head of the Scotch Pine Alleé, was a lone bunch of black-eyed-Susans still blooming.
  • Off to the side, wild bergamot had finished blooming, but the show was not over.
  • Last week's screaming red Virginia creeper was still striking against the conifers.
  • The view across the Little Bluestem Meadow was tricky to capture...
  • Favoring the trees looses the sky.
  • Shiny, dark red leaves drew my attention to a shrub along the side.
  • Oh yes, the viburnum - one of several with a thin, edible berry. I wondered if I'd tried it before. I can now say "thin" is the more descriptive term - it's all seed inside.
  • In the Old Gravel pit it was other thin things like lichens and mosses that visibly benefitted from the recent showers - they were very green.
  • Three small moths fluttered in front of my face to settle in a white pine's needles. Two touched noses momentarily, then... well, the third moth left.
  • The sap run on the maple had only one comma today, but bald-faced hornets were numerous.
  • At the edge of the Fern Glen, some black swallowwort had turned bright yellow. This will be helpful to those hunting down this invasive.
  • I'd received some questions about witch hazel but only started smelling it a day or two ago. In the shrub swamp I finally found it in flower.
  • Resting on a leaf below the deck was a hickory tussock moth caterpillar.
  • On the other side of the little foot bridge by the deck was sassafras sporting colors I don't think I realized it had.
  • The ridge of the Cary Pines Trail looked as if it had weathered a good blow: oak branch tips were all over the ground.
  • Empty acorn caps suggested it was not the work of wind but of squirrels.
  • The hill by the bench at the Appendix has had holes from solitary bees or wasps before, but the size of this one almost made me nervous.
  • A second hole not far away was reassurance that a chipmunk was more likely the engineer.
  • A rare moment of sun this day brightened the banks of the Wappinger Creek Trail.
  • If we look up stream, we have to look down stream too.
  • The competition was lining up in the back Old Hayfield.
  • In the front Old Hayfield, an old apple tree actually had some sizable fruit.
  • On closer inspection, they probably wouldn't make it to the store shelves - unless they were in a jug.
  • Just ahead something floated down in the late afternoon sun - the glide was not that of a leaf... it was the old great spangled fritillary we've been seeing in this corner.
  • We were usually finding her on that last stand of wild bergamot.
  • Both were looking pretty ragged today. Behind the browning seed heads, black walnuts were swelling on low branches.
  • That's what it's about now: seed for next season.
Little Bluestem Meadow

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 4 Mourning Dove
  • 1 Great Horned Owl
  • 5 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 2 Downy Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 5 Blue Jay
  • 23 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 6 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 8 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Brown Creeper
  • 3 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 Hermit Thrush
  • 2 American Robin
  • 3 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Cedar Waxwing
  • 3 Palm Warbler
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 Dark-eyed Junco
  • 3 Northern Cardinal
  • 2 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 1 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 1 Eastern Comma
Caterpillars
  • 1 Hickory tussock moth
Plants
  • 1 Witch hazel

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 69°F, partly cloudy and calm at 12:30 PM on September 24, 2014.
  • September has been pretty nice.
  • Fall colors were bold in some of the maples on the way in; here they were just starting.
  • Well, it was the first day of Fall.

The Trails

  • Hints of Fall were creeping into the edge of the front Old Hayfield.
  • I was just focusing on two robber flies on neighboring leaves when they disappeared from the view finder. They reappeared together on one leaf.
  • That last little patch of wild bergamot was still attracting a last great spangled fritillary.
  • Butter-and-eggs was one thing looking fresh. It's common and easily overlooked; I wondered when it had started blooming.
  • I had lunch on the bench in the Old Pasture surrounded by little bluestem.
  • Fields like this were typical childhood haunts.
  • A flash of orange around an oak across the way snapped me out of my reverie.
  • Scanning turned up an eastern comma soaking up the sun in typical head down posture.
  • On the way out, I was surprised to find winterberry in such a dry place - then remembered I shouldn't be: it had surprised me last year.
  • The bluff above the Wappinger Creek was looking very autumnal with leaves all over the ground.
  • In the Fern Glen's limestone cobble, Solomon's seal berries were the size of grapes.
  • Back in the fen, poison sumac berries stood out against the turning leaves.
  • The cinnamon fern behind me was taking on an earthy golden glow.
  • On the way out staghorn sumac was fruiting very differently from the other species.
  • The sap run in the Old Gravel Pit looked abandoned at first, but there were several commas and... the question mark that had eluded me last week.
  • I wondered what the moth action in the evening is like here...
  • Farther along this trail two ovenbirds and I startled each other. We checked each other out but they always managed to disappear just at the wrong moment.
  • The Scotch Pine Alleé is always beautiful, but today the red virginia creeper really added something.
  • I thought I was done til I passed by the magnolia. The big fuzzy buds are one of the first things I watch in the spring, bit I don't know if I'd ever noticed the fruit.
  • Always something new.
Robber flies mating

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 5 Mourning Dove
  • 2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Northern Flicker
  • 2 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 5 Eastern Phoebe
  • 9 Blue Jay
  • 13 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 3 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Brown Creeper
  • 4 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 Hermit Thrush
  • 2 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Ovenbird
  • 1 Common Yellowthroat
  • 3 Eastern Towhee
  • 4 Chipping Sparrow
  • 2 Northern Cardinal
  • 5 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 4 Cabbage White
  • 3 Clouded Sulphur
  • 1 Orange Sulphur
  • 2 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 3 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Question Mark
  • 4 Eastern Comma

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