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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 88°F, and partly cloudy with light winds at 2:00 PM on May 30, 2013.
  • The first heat of the season is taxing on me.
  • But it brings out the butterflies; little wood-satyre, common ringlet and zabulon skipper were back.
  • For those interested in other orders, the ebony jewel-wing was back too.

The Trails

  • The first thing to catch my eye today was a caterpillar in the front Old Hayfield. The second thing was that it was dead. The eggs (or maybe cocoons) by its head may explain why.
  • On the Sedge Meadow Trail, gray dogwood was budding up.
  • Overhead was a barn swallow - a nice change from the usual tree swallows.
  • Behind the old Pump House, Angelica had started blooming.
  • Way in the back Old Hayfield, ironwood fruits were forming.
  • Approaching the Old Pasture, I noticed dewberry and wondered if I would find the hobomok skipper today - they seem to appear together.
  • Checking sunny leaves for hairstreaks on the Wappinger Creek Trail, I found instead a very dark mayfly.
  • Farther along is a sunny section of creek bank. On the way was the first ebony jewelwing - that black winged damsel fly. Several zabulon skippers were basking in that sunny patch when I got there. Nice.
  • I'd heard stonecrop was blooming near the watershed kiosk, and there it was.
  • Nearby was false hellebore. Big leaves, little flower.
  • Flicking sticks downed by the wind and rain the day before, I had my eyes down a lot today and was delighted to find a red eft.
  • A stick bigger than I cared to handle was down in the Old Gravel Pit.
  • A shrub was flowering along the edge of the Little Bluestem Meadow - a cherry?.
  • Of course not, it was here last year too. The flower and leaves look familiar?... It's nannyberry again - we figured that out last week.
  • Along the Scotch Pine Alleé a hornet-like nessus sphinx was moving around tirelessly. It was a she and she would alight for only a moment... to lay an egg on virginia creeper.
  • At the Fern Glen pond, blue flag was blooming with a scent that takes me back to childhood and the secret patch I discovered when I sought the answer to the question, "Why did the butterfly cross the road?"
  • Along the pond, carrion flower was blooming with its own special perfume.
  • That and its unusual rather than showy flower make it an acquired taste amongst gardeners.
  • Gin and tonic may be an acquired taste too. And like butterflies, it gives purpose to hot days like this one. I headed home to seek purpose.
Dead caterpillar
Gray dogwood
Angelica
Ironwood fruits
Dewberry
Black mayfly
Stonecrop
False hellebore
False hellebore
Red eft
Big stick in the Old Gravel Pit
Nannyberry
Nannyberry
Nessus sphinx
Blue flag
Carrion flower
Carrion flower

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Chimney Swift
  • 2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 6 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 2 American Crow
  • 2 Tree Swallow
  • 1 Barn Swallow
  • 5 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 House Wren
  • 1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 2 Veery
  • 4 Wood Thrush
  • 3 American Robin
  • 5 Gray Catbird
  • 3 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Blue-winged Warbler
  • 1 Black-throated Green Warbler
  • 4 Ovenbird
  • 4 Louisiana Waterthrush
  • 1 Common Yellowthroat
  • 3 Scarlet Tanager
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 2 Chipping Sparrow
  • 1 Field Sparrow
  • 2 Song Sparrow
  • 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • 4 Brown-headed Cowbird
  • 2 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 2 Cabbage White
  • 1 Clouded Sulphur
  • 15 Pearl Crescent
  • 33 Little Wood-Satyr
  • 15 Common Ringlet
  • 3 Zabulon Skipper
Herp
  • 1 Red eft
Plants
  • 1 Blue flag
  • 1 Carrion flower
  • 1 Dewberry
  • 1 False hellebore
  • 1 Stonecrop
Moth
  • 2 Dogbane Tiger Moth
  • 1 Nessus Sphinx

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 75°F, calm, and just started light rain as I arrived at 1:00 PM on May 22, 2013.
  • In spite of the gloom, some butterflies could be found, especially pearl crescents.
  • A classic encounter with a great horned owl topped the day.
  • Other interesting birds included Canada warbler and yellow-throated vireo.

The Trails

  • Rain. I considered turning back, but it was the first time in weeks that I was actually going to do my usual Wednesday at 1 walk... I put on my poncho.
  • Thoughts of dry knees were dismissed as casually as the first mosquito at dusk when a patch of germander speedwell, no higher than the grass blades, appeared before me in the first Old Hayfield.
  • I could have squatted for the newly opened buttercup...
  • The minute thyme-leaved speedwell and mouse-ear chickweed both brought the elbows into service as well.
  • Ah, the first spittlebug on bedstraw. They sip plant juices through one end and blow bubbles out the other. Effective fortification, but how do they breathe in there?
  • The viburnum by the old pumphouse was blooming. Did I ever figure it out?
  • Let's see... a shrub with a ball of like flowers as opposed to large petaled outer flowers as with hobblebush (see May 4).
  • Leaves with fine, sharp teeth and a pointed tip... Viburnum lentago, nannyberry. Yes, zooming in revealed a thin wing on the petiole - the leaf stem.
  • You don't see as many butterflies on a gray day, but when you do, they are much calmer and so allow closer observation, as did an unusually large American copper on the dry side of the Sedge Meadow Trail.
  • On the wet side, cinnamon fern was demonstrating the origin of its name.
  • In the back Old Hayfield, I finally determined by elimination that it was Russian olive that was blooming. After so many years, I would have recalled the juicy red berries were it autumn olive.
  • What was that call? The voice suggested indigo bunting, but the phrases were all wrong. I had a glimpse for only a fraction of a second, but the face was familiar... The black stripe and eye ring of the Kentucky warbler seemed to match, but not the call... oh well, onward.
  • Field pussytoes were along the steep drop from the bluff of the Wappinger Creek Trail.
  • Blooming farther along in the flood plain were star-of-Bethlehem and a plant that still eludes me.
  • Farther along clinging appropriatly enough to the Watershead kiosk, was a large Mayfly.
  • There was that call again! This time several good looks revealed the "necklace" of the Canada warbler. I still didn't like the song; I'd heard it well enough once before to have my own mnemonic for it: "Wickedly chocolaty, wickedly sweet!". Maybe that was the problem...
  • Twice I thought I heard the faint call of the winter wren as I entered the Fern Glen. Good enough. Keeping my ears tuned, I would later catch the raspy call of the yellow-throated vireo, too.
  • There was no problem IDing bellwort in the Roeller Bed, along the road.
  • The book's description of the difference from large-flowered bellwort seems obscure, but with the subject in hand, the size, color and granuals inside all come together.
  • False Solomon's seal was easy - it has frothy clusters terminally located vs a few bells in the leaf axils.
  • Common alumroot is like bishop's cap on steroids.
  • White baneberry has a more compact flower cluster than the red. Each individual flower is on a short, thick stalk that will be much more obvious when it goes to fruit. And even less subtle, the berry will be white instead of red.
  • There was more life in the swamp shrubs than appeared at the start of the season! Tiny bog rosemary was blooming right at the edge of the boardwalk.
  • And a few soggy steps in, Labrador tea was blooming.
  • The perennial favorite, pitcher plant has never disappointed us and was preparing this years display.
  • One of our native honeysuckle vines, glaucous or limber honesuckle had nice clusters of showy yellow-orange flowers.
  • At the other extreme, swamp saxifrage was blooming.
  • It took all the zoom my camera had to prove it.
  • Back in the limestone cobble, twinleaf seedpods were getting big... and smug, it always seems to me.
  • Patches of blue were occasionally over head now, and a trail of black crossed my own in the Old Gravel Pit. It was springtails - a group of "primative" insects (I like to think "successful" - they haven't HAD to change over the millenia, they worked fine from the start!). Snowfleas are perhaps more familiar members of this order.
  • I was in back-to-the-barn mode as I cruised along the Little Bluestem Meadow, but the incessant call of 3-4 crows drew me down the path towards the water. "Maybe they have something," I thought "- a hawk or an owl." Through a gap I could see a big pine that would be right for an owl... A pattern was emerging when suddenly round, yellow eyes locked with mine; prominent "ears" stood out above. The crows were a pain, but I was probably too much; enormous wings unfurled and it put its back to me and the crows and was gone.
  • I don't mind rainy days.
Germander speedwell
Buttercup
Thyme-leaved speedwell
Mouse-ear chickweed
Spittlebug
Nannyberry
Nannyberry
Nannyberry
Nannyberry
American copper
Cinnamon fern
Russian olive
Field pussytoes
Mayfly
Mystery plant
Star-of-Bethlehem
Bellwort
Bellwort
False Solomon's seal
Common alumroot
White baneberry
Bog rosemary
Pitcher plant
Labrador tea
Limber honesuckle
Limber honesuckle
Swamp saxifrage
Swamp saxifrage
Twinleaf pod
Springtail trail

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Common Merganser
  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 1 Great Horned Owl
  • 3 Chimney Swift
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 4 Eastern Phoebe
  • 1 Yellow-throated Vireo
  • 1 Warbling Vireo
  • 6 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 2 Blue Jay
  • 2 American Crow
  • 10 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 House Wren
  • 1 Winter Wren
  • 7 Veery
  • 3 Wood Thrush
  • 4 American Robin
  • 7 Gray Catbird
  • 1 European Starling
  • 1 Blue-winged Warbler
  • 2 Prairie Warbler
  • 8 Ovenbird
  • 3 Louisiana Waterthrush
  • 1 Common Yellowthroat
  • 3 Canada Warbler
  • 3 Scarlet Tanager
  • 6 Eastern Towhee
  • 3 Chipping Sparrow
  • 1 Field Sparrow
  • 3 Song Sparrow
  • 1 Northern Cardinal
  • 1 Red-winged Blackbird
  • 2 Brown-headed Cowbird
  • 1 Baltimore Oriole
  • 2 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 2 Cabbage White
  • 1 American Copper
  • 10 Pearl Crescent
  • 2 Red-spotted Purple
  • 4 Juvenal's Duskywing
Insects
  • 1 Mayfly
  • 1 Spittlebug
Plants
  • 1 Bellwort
  • 1 Bog rosemary
  • 1 Buttercup
  • 1 Common alumroot
  • 1 Dame's rocket
  • 1 False Soloman's-seal
  • 1 Field Pussytoes
  • 1 Germander speedwell
  • 1 Labrador tea
  • 1 Limber honeysuckle
  • 1 Mouse-ear chickweed
  • 1 Mystery plant
  • 1 Nannyberry
  • 1 Russian olive
  • 1 Star-of-Bethlehem
  • 1 Swamp saxifrage
  • 1 Thyme-leaved speedwell
  • 1 White baneberry

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