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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 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

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 70°F and partly cloudy with light winds at 3:15 PM on May 16, 2013.
  • I've been slowly returning to my usual Wed afternoon schedule: Thur at 3 is closer than Fri at 5...
  • Butterfly arrivals were ramping up with pearl crescent and silver-spotted skipper.
  • Swamp azalea almost came and went unnoticed, but large yellow lady's-slipper was just starting.

The Trails

  • Behind the Carriage House, the peculiar buckeye was now in bloom.
  • So too were fothergilla and sweet shrub or calycanthus. Somewhere there is a red variety...
  • Honeysuckle bushes were starting to bloom everywhere - some in pink as well as yellow highlights.
  • Well before dusk in the Fern Glen this week, I tried for better looks at Jacob's ladder and starry false Soloman's-seal.
  • Golden ragwort was just on the other side of the path.
  • Near the bench, the presumed Asian Solomon's seal was blooming.
  • Past the fen in the acid cobble was columbine.
  • At its feet was a small forest of narrow beech fern.
  • Canada violet was on the other side of the path.
  • Hiding among the brambles, maple-leaved viburnum was budding up.
  • A fortuitous phone call caused me to linger at the edge of the fen where my first s came by to sip moisture.
  • In the shrub swamp, our native limber honeysuckle vine was getting ready to bloom.
  • In a quiet corner, swamp saxifrage was preparing to flower for the first time to my knowledge.
  • In the farthest corner, easily dismissed as an ash seedling, wild sasparilla was offering its inconspicuous ball of flowers.
  • Near the deck, truly a perennial favorite, large yellow lady's-slipper was just opening its deceitful flowers - they contain no nectar.
  • Again, looking better in the daylight, gaywings was/were blooming in a number of spots in the Glen and on the trails.
  • Starflower too could be found in a number of locations.
  • Indian cucumber root looked like it was going to have a good year.
  • I'd forgotten last week to look at the mayapple, but I did not miss the bloom.
  • Choke cherry, budding up last week, was now in bloom near the kiosk.
  • By the pond, golden Alexanders was just beginning.
  • Across the road, the swamp azalea was already past its prime.
  • Out in the back Old Hayfield, golden Alexanders was further along than in the Glen. Small, black flies were numerous on the umbels.
  • Blooming by the bench at the edge of the field was common barberry, a relative of the more familiar Japanese barberry; both are alien.
  • In numerous locations today, our native wild geranium could be found.
  • And it was time for me to get lost.
Buckeye
Fothergilla
Sweet shrub
A bush honeysuckle
A bush honeysuckle
Jacob's ladder
Starry false Soloman's-seal
Golden ragwort
Asian Solomon's seal
Columbine
Narrow beech fern
Canada violet
Maple-leaved viburnum
Silver-spotted skipper
Limber honeysuckle
Swamp saxifrage
Wild sasparilla
Wild sasparilla
Large yellow lady's-slipper
Large yellow lady's-slipper
Gaywings
Starflower
Indian cucumber root
Mayapple
Mayapple
Choke cherry
Golden Alexanders
Swamp azalea
Golden Alexanders
Golden Alexanders
Common barberry
Wild geranium

Sightings

Birds
  • 3 Mallard
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 4 Chimney Swift
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 1 Warbling Vireo
  • 4 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 1 Blue Jay
  • 3 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 Tufted Titmouse
  • 2 House Wren
  • 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 2 Veery
  • 1 Wood Thrush
  • 3 American Robin
  • 5 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Blue-winged Warbler
  • 1 Yellow Warbler
  • 3 Prairie Warbler
  • 1 Black-and-white Warbler
  • 2 Ovenbird
  • 3 Scarlet Tanager
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 3 Chipping Sparrow
  • 4 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Song Sparrow
  • 1 Brown-headed Cowbird
  • 1 Baltimore Oriole
  • 3 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 1 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 2 Cabbage White
  • 1 Clouded Sulphur
  • 1 'Olive' Juniper Hairstreak
  • 2 Meadow Fritillary
  • 2 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 2 Juvenal's Duskywing
Plants
  • 1 Buckeye
  • 1 Burning bush
  • 1 Bush honeysuckle
  • 1 Canada violet
  • 1 Columbine
  • 1 Common barberry
  • 1 Fothergilla
  • 1 Golden ragwort
  • 1 May-apple
  • 1 Solomon's-seal (asian?)
  • 1 Starflower
  • 1 Swamp azalea
  • 1 Sweet shrub
  • 1 Wild geranium
  • 1 Wild sasparilla

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