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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 81°F, partly cloudy and breezy at 2:00 PM on August 6, 2014.
  • Meadow fritillaries were again out in numbers.
  • Spicebush swallowtail's 2nd brood was coming out.
  • An afternoon thunder storm only released a few drops, but then it was dark and cool enough to shut down butterfly activity in the Old Hayfields.

The Trails

  • A meadow fritillary again! I wondered why it was so interested in an old milkweed leaf. Oh, it was the mating pair below that had its attention.
  • The first of two spicebush swallowtails today careened across the Little Bluestem Meadow. Their 2nd brood was coming out.
  • Off the deck in the fen, lurked a single blossom of square-stemmed monkey flower. I couldn't find it last week.
  • Way in the back of the Glen, spikenard was blooming.
  • In the fen's outlet by the deck at the creek, green-headed coneflower was performing its slow motion bloom.
  • By the pond, boneset was still thinking about it.
  • Towards the back of the pond, sneezeweed was actively working on it.
  • As I left the 'Glen, the sky had grown dark and rumblings were coming from the south. In my mind I scanned the route ahead for shelter...
  • When the sky brightened after a mere sprinkle, I abandoned the watershed kiosk, continued the Wappinger Creek Trail into the Old Pasture, where sun was actually coming through the open canopy.
  • At the other end, a watchful eastern comma shared its perch in the sun with a wasp.
  • In the Sedge Meadow, the controversial purple loosestrife was blooming.
  • I admired goldenrods in crescendo behind the wild bergamot in the back Old Hayfield, .
  • Here in the open, skies to the north were fair, but to the south still threatening... and moving north.
  • I really wanted to squirt east towards the parking lot, but suddenly remembered last week's rattlesnake plantain... in the opposite direction back on the Wappinger Creek Trail.
  • A handy shortcut got me there and back in short order with a photo of open blossoms.
  • Noisy clouds were overhead again, the butterflies had disappeared, the only thing between me and my car was a very unconcerned field sparrow.
  • It may have been a dumb young one or a wise old one. I wasn't going to press my luck and try to guess.
Green-headed coneflower

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Mourning Dove
  • 5 Chimney Swift
  • 1 Belted Kingfisher
  • 3 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Northern Flicker
  • 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 1 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 5 Blue Jay
  • 1 Common Raven
  • 13 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Brown Creeper
  • 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 Wood Thrush
  • 6 American Robin
  • 3 Gray Catbird
  • 8 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Common Yellowthroat
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 3 Field Sparrow
  • 2 Indigo Bunting
  • 6 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 2 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 3 Cabbage White
  • 1 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 6 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 5 Meadow Fritillary
  • 25 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Eastern Comma
  • 1 Red-spotted Purple
  • 16 Common Ringlet
  • 10 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 1 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Peck's Skipper
  • 3 Dun Skipper
Plants
  • 1 Green-headed coneflower
  • 1 Purple loosestrife
  • 1 Sneezeweed
  • 1 Spikenard
  • 1 Square-stemmed monkey-flower
  • 1 Wood nettle
Moth
  • 4 Hummingbird Clearwing
  • 1 Snowberry Clearwing

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

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