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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 73°F, partly cloudy and calm at 1:00 PM on July 30, 2014.
  • The avian highlight of the day was palm warblers.
  • The botanical highlight of the day was downy rattlesnake plantain.
  • The lepidopteran highlight of the day was meadow fritillaries.
  • And I had company today to share the delights with.

The Trails

  • The milkweed is done flowering, I sighed, but maybe a monarch caterpillar, I thought, just maybe.
  • So around the Gifford parking lot we went, never expecting to find an American copper on Queen Anne's lace.
  • The parking lot was amazingly good today with meadow fritillaries and one of only two common ringlets seen today.
  • The front Old Hayfield had all the other meadow frits. With the cool air, they were actually landing and basking in the sun affording unusual opportunities to photo both top and bottom sides.
  • Along the Sedge Meadow Trail, a goldenrod was getting ready to bloom right next to last year's effort.
  • Honeysuckle bushes were laden with ripe berries.
  • Again, maybe it was the cool air that prompted the white-striped black (moth) to perch in the open.
  • In the back Old Hayfield a big argiope or garden spider had spun webs across sturdy vegetation.
  • A female scorpion fly sat just long enough for one photo.
  • Almost at the Old Pasture, we came upon a bristly, black caterpillar Though I haven't seen the Agreeable Tiger Moth, the Book says they are wide spread and common, so I'll go with that.
  • Downy rattlesnake plantain was a very special find along the edge of the Wappinger Creek Trail... especially since they had just mowed.
  • It was just beginning to bloom, but the leaves were interesting enough in themselves.
  • The northern pearly-eye was continuing this season's trend of poping up in unsusal places, this time just upstream from the "Appendix".
  • On the Cary Pines Trail (or just about anywhere), mushrooms continued to respond to this year's ample rains.
  • Virginia creeper was starting up a tree. The young leaves resemble poison ivy in an alarming way.
  • In the Fern Glen, black swallowwort was announcing "last call"... to try to control it...
  • ...as seed pods were maturing. Often hanging in pairs, they are thought to resemble a swallow's forked tail. A large plant supporting several vines can produce a hundred or so pods - each with 20 some seeds.
  • The tiny, dark red, ill scented flowers are almost black, giving rise to the other part of its common name. Oh, and they're self-pollinating - even covered over, they still produce seed.
  • It's latin name, Cynanchum, is said to translate to "dog strangling vine", a good name for a truely bad plant. It's also bad for monarchs. They recognize that it is in the milkweed family and will lay eggs on it, but it is fatal to the caterpillars. Look it up...
  • Our friendly, native trillium also bore ripening fruit. The seeds within don't have the "parachutes" of the former plant to carry them on the wind, but have a fleshy blob relished by ants, who carry them away.
  • Field work for mosquito research was being conducted by the limestone cobble.
  • The large lace-border is a pretty and easily recognized moth, but in form enucleata the distinctive pattern is hardly there at all.
  • One single blossom of horse balm had opened in the shrub swamp.
  • In the dryer areas, white wood aster had started to bloom.
  • Remember the little fungus from last week? By the welcome sign? It was definitely bigger this week.
  • At the front of the pond, Joe-Pye weed was just about to bloom.
  • The light was low and the shadows long. I paused once more for a confused eusarca along the Little Bluestem Meadow.
  • And then it was back to the Gifford parking lot and away.
Downy rattlesnake plantain

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Great Blue Heron
  • 1 Mourning Dove
  • 1 Barred Owl
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 1 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 5 Blue Jay
  • 10 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 3 Brown Creeper
  • 1 House Wren
  • 9 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Cedar Waxwing
  • 2 Palm Warbler
  • 1 Louisiana Waterthrush
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 Indigo Bunting
  • 3 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 6 Cabbage White
  • 1 Orange Sulphur
  • 1 American Copper
  • 7 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 6 Meadow Fritillary
  • 32 Pearl Crescent
  • 2 Northern Pearly-eye
  • 1 Little Wood-Satyr
  • 2 Common Ringlet
  • 31 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 12 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 25 Northern Broken-Dash
  • 1 Mulberry Wing
Plants
  • 1 White wood aster
  • 1 Downy rattlesnake plantain
  • 1 Horse-balm
Moth
  • 1 Confused Eusarca
  • 5 Hummingbird Clearwing
  • 1 Large Lace-border form enucleata
  • 7 Snowberry Clearwing
  • 2 White-striped Black

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 85°F, mostly cloudy and breezy at 12:00 PM on July 23, 2014.
  • The clouds broke up and the temp went up over 90. At least the breeze remained.
  • Hummingbird clearwings were out in numbers.
  • Mushrooms were coming up across the trail system.
  • Gypsie moths were on the wing.

The Trails

  • A hummingbird clearwing was feeding on purple bergamot by the Carriage House.
  • Usually its olive and burgandy distinguish it from the snowberry clearwing's yellow and black .
  • Nearby, a really big Queen Anne's lace was blooming. If you find green and black caterpillars on your carrots, parsely, etc., they are likely black swallowtails and would be happy on Queen Anne's lace if you're not happy where they are.
  • In the Fern Glen, tall bellflower was up and blooming.
  • Queen-of-the-prairy is a more western species that can escape from gardens when brought "back east".
  • At the edge of the pond, native wild mint was behaving itself.
  • There too was lizard's tail; it was filling the air with a surprisingly sweet scent.
  • A surprise was Turk's-cap lily; it was on the kiosk side rather than the pond side of the path.
  • Back in the fen, the swamp milkweed had few butterflies, except I thought, for a hapless, weak flying moth that had been caught by its proboscis - milkweed pollen structure can do that. But it was just a spider dangling in the sun.
  • Horse balm was getting ready to bloom. Rub and smell the leaves; they change from funky to lemony as the blossoms progress.
  • Right behind the main welcome sign, something yellow was on the old white pine stump.
  • It was cute little mushrooms.
  • I cautiously approached the "birder-fly feeder" by the deck along the creek... Something was in it!
  • Although it's called red spotted purple, the spots are more orange than red.
  • And above, it is more blue than purple.
  • Another flower shunning butterfly was lurking off to the side.
  • It finally showed itself for some visitors who had joined me at the deck. It was eastern comma.
  • Heading towards the stone bridge, I noted a few mushrooms.
  • Mysterious holes dotted the ground out at the Appendix. I did see a little wasp enter one, but it won the waiting game and I moved on.
  • Another surprise was northern pearly-eyes at several locations at the farthest reaches of the Wappinger Creek Trail. I hadn't been seeing any lately and thought they were already gone. But they've been strange this year - not in their usual spots and popping up in others.
  • In the back Old Hayfield, indigo buntings were chipping at me.
  • On the Sedge Meadow Trail, an unusually loud "chip" turned out to be the brown thrasher.
  • It obliged me with a profile view for a complete set of mug shots.
  • There were at least three sources of chipping, so I'd say we had a family outing going on.
  • Nice to see that, but I could also see my car... Did I say it was hot today?
Brown thrasher

Sightings

Birds
  • 4 Chimney Swift
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 3 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 15 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 House Wren
  • 2 Eastern Bluebird
  • 8 American Robin
  • 6 Gray Catbird
  • 3 Brown Thrasher
  • 6 Cedar Waxwing
  • 3 Pine Warbler
  • 1 Common Yellowthroat
  • 2 Scarlet Tanager
  • 4 Eastern Towhee
  • 2 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Song Sparrow
  • 1 Northern Cardinal
  • 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • 3 Indigo Bunting
  • 1 Red-winged Blackbird
  • 3 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 7 Cabbage White
  • 1 American Copper
  • 2 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 21 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 1 Meadow Fritillary
  • 16 Pearl Crescent
  • 2 Eastern Comma
  • 1 Red Admiral
  • 1 Red-spotted Purple
  • 8 Northern Pearly-eye
  • 6 Appalachian Brown
  • 9 Little Wood-Satyr
  • 40 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 4 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 11 Northern Broken-Dash
  • 6 Dun Skipper
Plants
  • 1 Lizard's-tail
  • 1 Queen Anne's lace
  • 1 Queen-of-the-prairy
  • 1 Tall bellflower
  • 1 Turk's-cap lily
  • 1 Wild mint
Moth
  • 5 Hummingbird Clearwing
  • 2 Snowberry Clearwing

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