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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 63°F, partly cloudy and calm at 1:00 PM on September 17, 2014.
  • A beautiful day just the way I like it: cool air, warm sun.
  • Even with the season winding down, there were some interesting butterfly encounters.
  • Another recently arrived invasive plant was getting ready to flower: Japanese stilt grass.

The Trails

  • Northern flickers could be seen as well as heard along the Scotch Pine Alleé.
  • As I walked along looking left, right, up, down, a praying mantis landed in front of me.
  • While checking out the field sparrows, one looked different: it was a pine warbler. In fact there were a number scooting about in the low vegetation.
  • In the Old Gravel Pit, an eastern comma rose from a sunny patch and disappeared only to pop up again around the bend. Hanging upside down in a white pine was unusual for a comma...
  • But it reminded to check the leaky tree from two weeks ago. Indeed, today it had commas, red admirals, and a question mark.
  • The neighboring tree had a better view of a red admiral catching some sun.
  • So intent was I in looking up, I almost missed the several fungi, not to mention mosses and lichens almost under foot.
  • At the top of the Fern Glen, I was dismayed to find Japanese stilt grass. The shiny main vein is The Field Mark, but I had tuned in on the tall flower stalks, just now forming.
  • That orange version of winterberry was beginning to turn across the road from the Glen.
  • There too, next year's azalea buds were getting surrounded by color.
  • Farther along the edge, hazel nut catkins were dangling between chewed up leaves.
  • It looked like Japanese beetles were doing the chewing.
  • That strange swollen thing was the nut. The only thing stranger was a cluster of them.
  • A banded tussock moth caterpillar was starting to feed along the edge of a leaf.
  • At the edge of the pond, one of the spreadwings - a group of damselflies - was spreading its wings in the sun.
  • And near the deck was a great example of wreath goldenrod, that was playing hard-to-get last week.
  • On the way out, the leaves and berries of Indian cucumber root were beginning to contrast with each other.
  • The mowed back Old Hayfield was not promising, but a patch of bare dirt seemed to be a yellow jacket's nest.
  • The traffic in and out of the large hole in the ground clinched it.
  • A little scrap of "honeycomb" on the ground finally registered in my mind and explained the bare dirt and large hole: the nest had been attacked... good thing I wasn't.
  • While all that was going on, a meadow fritillary dropped in front of me to sun itself and a clouded sulphur whizzed by - awful busy for an empty mowed field!
  • Back at the entrance to the Sedge Meadow Trail, clusters of Indian pipe were appearing.
  • And in the front Old Hayfield, the few remaining great spangled fritillaries were finding the few remaining stalks of wild bergamot.
  • I turned for one last view across the field before heading for the parking lot on this perfect day.
Spreadwing (damselfly)

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Cooper's Hawk
  • 1 Mourning Dove
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 2 Downy Woodpecker
  • 4 Northern Flicker
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 9 Blue Jay
  • 16 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 3 Tufted Titmouse
  • 4 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 4 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 4 Brown Creeper
  • 2 House Wren
  • 1 Hermit Thrush
  • 4 Gray Catbird
  • 2 Cedar Waxwing
  • 4 Palm Warbler
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • 3 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 10 Cabbage White
  • 11 Clouded Sulphur
  • 1 Orange Sulphur
  • 3 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 1 Meadow Fritillary
  • 3 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Question Mark
  • 4 Eastern Comma
  • 2 Red Admiral
Caterpillars
  • 1 Banded Tussock Moth
Insects
  • 1 Praying mantis
Plants
  • 1 Indian pipe

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 75°F, partly cloudy and calm at 12:15 PM on September 10, 2014.
  • A fairly quiet day, but with its moments.
  • Black swallowwort pods were ripe and opening.

The Trails

  • A quick stroll around Gifford parking lot turned up mature common milkweed pods.
  • Just as I was remarking that butterfly season was ramping down, a pair of mating meadow fritillaries was at my feet in the front Old Hayfield.
  • The male was clearly smaller and from below more colorful. From above the female's black marks were more pronounced toward the base of the wings - typical of frits.
  • Calico aster, small and common, has been out for a while already.
  • Last week had the goldenrod leaf gall, this week a round goldenrod stem gall from another fly. Yet another stem gall is elliptical and from a moth larva.
  • A great goldenrod stand comes up in the same corner of the field each season.
  • Along the Sedge Meadow Trail, gray dogwood berries were at their prime.
  • And there in the thick... yellow underneath, gray head, white eye ring... too quick and it was gone before I could get a picture. A warbler, but Nashville? Young Canada? Or?...
  • In the back Old Hayfield, two halves of a snake may have been a result of the previous week's mowing.
  • The downed oak on the Wappinger Creek Trail had been cleared.
  • The growth rings indicated it was a good 80 years old. I think they will make good trail side seating.
  • It had been a while since I'd looked at the rattlesnake plantain.
  • One can't forget those leaves... Flowering looked finished - we'll next look for seeds.
  • In the Fern Glen, the late season black cohosh was blooming. It's different from the earlier one.
  • Past the limestone cobble, another goldenrod of dry woods was blooming: wreath goldenrod. The long, narrow leaf and blossoms along the stem contrast those of last week's zigzag goldenrod.
  • Back near the deck, it was nice to see a regular visitor again: the brown-hooded owlet caterpillar - on goldenrod, as ususal.
  • And I finally found whorled aster. I'd been wondering where it was.
  • Judging by the tired looking blossoms I'd say I'd almost missed this flowering period.
  • Something I'd always wondered about was the large, arrow shaped leaves.
  • The unusual blossoms made the determination of tall white lettuce easy.
  • On the way out of the Glen and up the hill, I saw another familiar face: an almost purple aster.
  • The leaves were clasping but not toothed.
  • Another nearby aster was more blue with small, thin leaves.
  • That narrows things down but the book says we have about 60 species in the Northeast...
  • Finishing up the walk through the Scotch Pine Alleé, I spotted dark green... my favorite invasive to hate: black swallowwort.
  • Almost all the pods had burst. 10 pods this year is 250 plants next year. Trying to gather the seeds that didn't fly was tricky business as they seemed to know my touch and released from their parachutes to drop and hide in the thatch below.
  • Yes, it's a big field and what can one person do... hope that rant... er, sharing will help others recognize it, prompt them to learn about it. When it shows up in your own yard, dealing with one or two plants is not too hard...
Meadow fritillaries mating

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 2 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Northern Flicker
  • 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 1 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 5 Blue Jay
  • 11 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 Tufted Titmouse
  • 3 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 House Wren
  • 1 American Robin
  • 2 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 2 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 7 Cabbage White
  • 8 Clouded Sulphur
  • 1 Orange Sulphur
  • 5 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 5 Meadow Fritillary
  • 4 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Common Ringlet
  • 1 Silver-spotted Skipper
Caterpillars
  • 1 Brown-hooded owlet
Plants
  • 1 Black cohosh
  • 1 Calico aster
  • 1 Tall white lettuce
  • 1 Whorled aster
  • 1 Wreath goldenrod

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