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Trail Reports

Insights on trail conditions and the plants and animals you can expect to encounter throughout the seasons.

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Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 80°F, and partly cloudy with light breezes at 1:15 PM on September 3, 2014.
  • Some of the fields had been mowed as part of their regular maintenance.
  • Some fall colors were starting to appear.

The Trails

  • There was quite the colony of goldenrod bunch galls at the head of the Scotch Pine Alleé. A midge larva stops stem growth and the bunched up leaves make a nice home.
  • Japanese barberry was taking on fall colors - a foot in the door for this and many other invasives.
  • The field in the background had recently been mowed, but to provide refugia for the wildlife, the adjacent one had not .
  • Another goldenrod that is easy to ID is silverrod - it's our only white goldenrod.
  • I looked up for the chickadees I heard in the Old Gravel Pit and instead saw butterflies flying around then landing on the side of a tree trunk to lap up sap.
  • They were eastern commas - at least two of them. And they weren't alone.
  • In the Fern Glen's fen, both beggar ticks and bur marigold were blooming.
  • In the shrub swamp section, an eastern tent caterpiller egg mass wrapped around a twig of an old apple.
  • I went to check the "birder-fly feeder" at the deck, but it was gone... both it and its label were lying off the side of the path. If there is ever an issue in the 'Glen, I'd be happy to discuss it...
  • Parting from the 'Glen, I heard red-breasted nuthatch and reflected that there hadn't been much sign of them this summer until the week before.
  • In the flood plain of the Wappinger Creek was a magnificent Jack-in-the-pulpit seed head.
  • A little farther along was the spot where, when the light is right, you can find some nice size fish - presumably trout, although this one seemed to resemble barracuda.
  • Too often comes that moment when you stop dead in your tracks thinking, gee, I almost completely missed that. This time a tree across the path.
  • It was easy to step over and continue up the hill into the Old Pasture where an enormous dragonfly settled not far in front of me.
  • Then along the Sedge Meadow Trail - no feuding northern pearly-eyes today.
  • Surprise, the back Old Hayfield had been mowed too, so that was a quick tour.
  • We finished with burning bush, in the far corner of the field, having a story similar to barberry's from the start of the walk.
Eastern comma on maple sap

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 2 Mourning Dove
  • 2 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 2 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 1 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 7 Blue Jay
  • 4 Tree Swallow
  • 10 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 4 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 House Wren
  • 3 American Robin
  • 2 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Pine Warbler
  • 3 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 11 Cabbage White
  • 3 Clouded Sulphur
  • 1 Orange Sulphur
  • 6 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 6 Pearl Crescent
  • 2 Eastern Comma
  • 2 Common Ringlet
  • 1 Monarch
  • 2 Silver-spotted Skipper
Plants
  • 1 Beggar-ticks
  • 1 Bur-marigold
  • 1 Silver-rod

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 83°F, and hazy with light breezes at 12:00 PM on August 27, 2014.
  • Northern pearly-eye was one of several butterflies that seem to be on the wing past their usual season.
  • Another dreaded invasive, Japanese knotweed, was in bloom.

The Trails

  • On the warm up lap around Gifford parking lot, I wondered if the milkweed aphids were a bit heavy this year.
  • The next question was if we'd soon be seeing a lot more lady bug larvae... or adults.
  • It looked fallsy across the front Old Hayfield, but it didn't feel it - not with 80s and the humidity.
  • On the dry side of the Sedge Meadow Trail was an unusual butterfly-like thing.
  • On the wet side was another: two northern pearly-eyes flying about in apparent argument. Some butterflies are territorial and investigate any passerby, courting females and driving off rivals. NPEs seem committed to that practice.
  • A more cooperative group was on the Wappinger Creek Trail: researchers dragging for ticks.
  • On the other side of the creek, a patch of Japanese knotweed was blooming.
  • This vigorous invasive has distinctive leaves that make ID easy even when not in flower. It spreads more by root than by seed.
  • A noise in the leaves at my feet drew my attention - a sneaky American green frog was getting closer to the creek... just to make sure.
  • A puff of gray off the side of the Cary Pines Trail was all that was left of a yellow jacket's nest that had been a meal for something else.
  • Near the front of the Fern Glen pond, bottle gentian was blooming. It's also called closed gentian...
  • Just behind it, turtlehead was about to bloom - I'm not sure I remember it being in this location.
  • Back in the fen, rough-leaved goldenrod was blooming. It's large basal leaves and wet habitat makes this goldenrod easy to ID.
  • The leaves always made me think it was witchhazel, but the little cones meant alder.
  • And the little orange butterfly I saw on the woolly aphids Monday had to be the harvester - our only carnivorous butterfly: it's caterpillar feeds on woolly aphids.
  • On the other side of the boardwalk, tiny water speedwell was blooming.
  • Even tinier was the blossom of arrow-leaved tearthumb.
  • Also in the mix of tiny things was purple-leaved willow herb.
  • Interesting is how red the blossom is before it opens.
  • The posture of swamp milkweed pods is interesting and is one feature setting it apart from common milkweed.
  • Back towards the kiosk, cardinal flower took me by surprise.
  • Almost the same color were jack-in-the-pulit berries right next to it.
  • Right by the kiosk was zigzag goldenrod.
  • The roundish lower leaves and dry woods location are more obvious to me than the namesake kinky stem.
  • I paused in the Old Gravel Pit to see what might be traveling with a noisy pack of chickadees and titmice - the dragonfly was not what I had in mind, but it sat right in front of me - the prairy warbler did not...
  • Farther along, one of those real big dragonflies stopped and hung out just long enough.
  • I would have liked to sit and enjoy the view and warm, pine scented breezes along the Scotch Pine Alleé, but...

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 4 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 4 Blue Jay
  • 9 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Brown Creeper
  • 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • 1 Wood Thrush
  • 3 American Robin
  • 3 Gray Catbird
  • 2 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Prairie Warbler
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 9 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 1 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 19 Cabbage White
  • 10 Clouded Sulphur
  • 6 Orange Sulphur
  • 29 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 14 Pearl Crescent
  • 3 Northern Pearly-eye
  • 9 Common Ringlet
  • 2 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 22 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 2 Peck's Skipper
  • 1 Mulberry Wing
  • 2 Zabulon Skipper
Plants
  • 1 Arrow-leaved tearthumb
  • 1 Bottle gentian
  • 1 Cardinal flower
  • 1 Japanese knotweed
  • 1 Purple-leaved willow herb
  • 1 Round-leaved goldenrod
  • 1 Water speedwell
  • 1 Zigzag goldenrod

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