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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 80°F, partly cloudy with light breezes at 1:15 PM on August 20, 2014.
  • The second monarch on the Trails this season was a welcome sight.
  • Oh horror, black swallowwort pods were beginning to open!

The Trails

  • A loop around the Gifford parking lot to check the milkweed turned up an interesting wasp apparently licking up aphid honeydew.
  • The thistles between Gifford House and the Carriage House were being worked over by several American goldfinch.
  • A blur in the air behind the Carriage House was clearly a skipper. A little patience and binoculars proved it to be a zabulon skipper.
  • Good grief, how many times have I walked by this spot and never noticed the black swallowwort?
  • Over 20 stalks were coming up out of one spot. Hmmm, that's about how many seeds are in a pod... I've counted 150-200 pods0 on just one good size plant.
  • Speaking of pods, some of these were past yellow and actually starting to split open.
  • I'm glad I found this in time. I hope it was the only one in the field. Yeah, right...
  • On a more hopeful note, the shadow passing over head in the Old Gravel Pit was that of a monarch - the second one I've seen here this season.
  • At the edge of the Fern Glen pond, ants were tending leaf hoppers on Joe-pye weed. I presume they secrete something sweet that ants covet.
  • Towards the back of the pond, NY ironweed was tall and blooming.
  • A cherry on a side trail had some very interesting caterpillars With no abdominal "legs" they were clearly loopers of some sort. But I didn't recall loopers living communally. And the patterns and bumps seemed peculiar as well. A quick flip through Wagner didn't turn up anything definite, but emeralds seemed possible. Some delicate green moths that show up at porch lights are of that group.
  • Along the Sedge Meadow Trail, there was no doubt that I was looking at white turtlehead. I'm not sure I'd seen it there before.
  • The back Old Hayfield was truely buzzing with activity. I stood a while surrounded by goldenrods and just watched and listened to the countless bees and other insects around me.
  • I would have liked to stay longer, but I had an appointment.
Unidentified wasp

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Mourning Dove
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 2 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 5 Blue Jay
  • 8 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 8 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 House Wren
  • 6 American Robin
  • 2 Gray Catbird
  • 3 Pine Warbler
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 3 Northern Cardinal
  • 7 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 1 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 14 Cabbage White
  • 6 Clouded Sulphur
  • 14 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 19 Pearl Crescent
  • 8 Common Ringlet
  • 2 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 1 Monarch
  • 4 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Least Skipper
  • 1 Peck's Skipper
  • 2 Zabulon Skipper
Plants
  • 1 Black swallowwort (pods ripe)
  • 1 New York ironweed
  • 1 Turtlehead

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was cool °F, partly cloudy and breezy at 2:00 PM on August 14, 2014.
  • Giant swallowtail made a special guest appearance today.
  • The first monarch on the Trails this season was a welcome sight.
  • Wednesday's weather was cool and cloudy when not raining, so I opted to walk Thursday.

The Trails

  • Goldenrods were taking off in the front Old Hayfield.
  • A shadow passed over as I started the Sedge Meadow Trail - a giant swallowtail. This typically southern species has been showing up for several years in a row now.
  • As the trail becomes enclosed by shrubs, I found myself surrounded by berries: gray dogwood, alien bush honeysuckle and pokeweed.
  • The Gifford Tenant House Barn was visible across more goldenrod and wild bergamot.
  • In the back Old Hayfield, the first monarch finally showed up. It was only the 2nd one I've seen anywhere this year.
  • A sunny patch on the Sedge Meadow Trail slowed my pace...
  • ...an eastern comma came out to investigate my approach, then returned to its perch in the sun.
  • A sunny rock on the Wappinger Creek Trail was attractive to yet another comma.
  • In the flood plane section of the trail, virgin's bower, a wild clematis, was blooming.
  • Out on the Cary Pines Trail, a single Indian pipe seemed to be soaking up the sun at the foot of a hemlock.
  • A hemlock looper was at rest out of the sun - what you might expect from a moth...
  • On the way to the Fern Glen, a dragonfly was making forays from a perch.
  • In the Glen proper, spikenard berries were forming.
  • Some mushrooms were picturesque agains a mossy log.
  • Off the boardwalk throught the fen, climbing hempweed was just beginning to open.
  • Farther along, the horsebalm was further along - it was almost finished blooming.
  • Near the deck over the creek, green-headed coneflower was starting up in earnest.
  • In a number of places, great lobelia was beginning to bloom.
  • Remember the yellow fungus on the pine stump by the welcome sign? It was not yellow any more.
  • Even from a distance, the elderberry at the front of the pond could be seen laden with berries.
  • Turning around, I saw that the groundnut was blooming. I didn't remember it starting to bud.
  • Towards the back of the pond, the sneezeweed was moving right along.
  • In a number of places, boneset was starting to bloom.
  • The fused leaves of boneset were thought to be an indication of the ability to heal broken bones, according to the Doctrine of Signatures - an old, sort of astrological form of botany.
  • I checked the near by mud patch, but I approached too quickly.
  • With the cool air and long shadows on it, I didn't expect the mud to harbor any butterflies, but indeed there had been an eastern tailed-blue... which was even more surprising considering there was frog, too.
  • In the Old Gravel Pit, it finally registered that white snakeroot was in bloom. Things so common can so easily be overlooked.
  • Emerging into the Little Bluestem Meadow, I never grow tired of the view across to the Gifford House.
  • I don't think it's just because I can almost see my car in the parking lot.
Eastern tailed-blue

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Chimney Swift
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Northern Flicker
  • 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 2 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 4 Blue Jay
  • 1 American Crow
  • 3 Tree Swallow
  • 7 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Carolina Wren
  • 1 Veery
  • 1 Wood Thrush
  • 6 American Robin
  • 10 Gray Catbird
  • 6 Cedar Waxwing
  • 4 Pine Warbler
  • 3 Eastern Towhee
  • 5 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • 5 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 4 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 4 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 16 Cabbage White
  • 8 Clouded Sulphur
  • 2 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 13 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 20 Pearl Crescent
  • 4 Eastern Comma
  • 1 Red Admiral
  • 19 Common Ringlet
  • 14 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 1 Monarch
  • 14 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Peck's Skipper
  • 1 Tawny-edged Skipper
  • 1 Zabulon Skipper
Plants
  • 1 Great lobelia
  • 1 Groundnut
  • 1 Indian pipe
  • 1 Virgin's bower
  • 1 White snakeroot
Moth
  • 1 Hemlock Looper
  • 2 Hummingbird Clearwing

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