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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

  • This week's trail report covers the whole trail system.
  • It was 58°F, cloudy and calm at 2:30 PM on October 14, 2015, but the sky would be constantly changing.
  • Foliage colors were really nice, but katydids and peepers were still calling.
  • Note that the grounds will be closing for the season at the end of this month.

The Trails

  • Birds chipping right across the street from Gifford House parking lot turned out to be yellow-rumped warblers .
  • All the common milkweed was letting loose their seeds.
  • Gifford House itself was looking a little like Halloween with the moody sky behind it.
  • Behind the Carriage House, a red squirrel scolded me as I passed by.
  • The view across the Little Bluestem Meadow was worthy of pause.
  • And the field on the other side wasn't too shabby either.
  • For comparison, I tried to duplicate one or two (three, actually) of the shots I took last week.
  • On a smaller scale, poison ivy and Virginia creeper were bright against the heavy texture of tree stump bark.
  • At the end of the Scots Pine Alleé was a riot of color where young maples and fading ferns mixed.
  • Along the edge of the Little Bluestem Meadow was a great angle on the viburnum, nannyberry. Only the deep red of the leaf was obscured by the sky's reflection.
  • Over my shoulder, the sun was coming out on my route through the Scots Pine Alleé.
  • Farther back, blue skies were now over Gifford House.
  • But as I looked back from the bend into the Old Gravel Pit section, clouds were already inching their way back over the sky.
  • A mass of white snakeroot seed heads was striking against the leaves.
  • Even more striking was a mass of still blooming flowers of the same.
  • The sun came out again for a moment to light up the path before me.
  • A young striped maple stood out against the dull leaf litter.
  • An areal display of mushrooms presented the opportunity for countless unusual portraits.
  • It is prudent to look to the left and the right when crossing a road, here the road to the Fern Glen.
  • Leaves on the pond reminded me of the early works of M. C. Escher.
  • The view from the bridge had to be investigated.
  • A tuft of maidenhair spleenwort caught my attention.
  • It seemed to be enjoying the view upstream.
  • So, what's downstream?
  • In the Fern Glen proper, witch hazel was out more than last week, but surprisingly it didn't smell as strong.
  • On the way out of the 'Glen, a bug - perhaps the invasive marmorated stink bug - was hiding in the curl of a leaf.
  • On the Cary Pines Trail, the sun again came through to make the background maples look like leaping flames.
  • The effect was perhaps more convincing from farther back.
  • Close up was just pretty. This was another spot with so much beauty on so many scales.
  • From the Appendix, I ran up the hill to where I may have left my hat. No hat, but another nice view of the Little Bluestem Meadow.
  • By the time I got to the back Old Hayfield, the sun was low enough to graze the bottom of the clouds.
  • Around the side, the bench was inviting but it was much later than I'd expected...
  • I only paused on the Sedge Meadow Trail for just one more photo to compare with last week: I had promised the boardwalk would soon be covered with leaves.
  • Do come for a walk this weekend... oh, and don't worry about the hat, thank you; it was still in the car...
Ferns and Maples

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 3 Eastern Phoebe
  • 7 Blue Jay
  • 4 American Crow
  • 12 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Tufted Titmouse
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Brown Creeper
  • 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 2 American Robin
  • 1 Gray Catbird
  • 3 Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • 6 White-throated Sparrow
  • 2 American Goldfinch

Notes and Changes since last report

  • This week's trail report covers the whole trail system.
  • It was 70°F, clear and calm at 2:15 PM on October 7, 2015.
  • The birding hot spot today was the Old Gravel Pit.
  • Foliage colors were brightening, but katydids and peepers were still calling.

The Trails

  • Last week there was promise of Fall color to come; this week it had arrived in the front Old Hayfield's Acer triflorum, one of the legacy trees of the Arboretum days.
  • In the back of that field, sight seeing was limited by black walnuts, which could really twist an ankle.
  • It was safer to look up on the Sedge Meadow Trail, where a kettle of turkey vultures was stirring.
  • Off to the side, the Gifford Tenent House Barn might have made the subject of a jigsaw puzzle - well, maybe in another week...
  • Soon enough the boardwalk across the swamp will be completely covered by leaves.
  • In the back Old Hayfield, invasive burning bush was showing off.
  • Its little berries are enjoyed by (and the seeds within are spread by) birds.
  • Finally a butterfly! A clouded sulphur came by and dropped into a hollow in the grass to soak up the sun. It is amazing how they can disappear right in front of you.
  • On the Wappinger Creek Trail, mushrooms could still be found hiding in the leaves.
  • Down in the floodplain, innocent looking wood nettle had shed almost all of its seeds.
  • The feathery structure holds the black seeds in little cups.
  • What appeared to be a couple lingering seeds turned out to be a couple bugs seeking those same seeds.
  • Up ahead, another invasive was showing off: Japanese barberry. Again, both leaves and berries are attractive to people and birds.
  • Japanese stilt grass is another matter. Brought over as packaging for porcelain, it came with tiny seeds. And they move along road sides and waterways.
  • Behind me, a couple caterpillars of a Haploa tiger moth species were feeding on clearweed and stinging nettle.
  • There was a faint scent in the air in the Fern... witch hazel was just beginning to bloom.
  • Back in the shrub swamp, some of the winterberry was getting pale, ghostly leaves. Some does, some doesn't... I wonder why.
  • In the fen, swamp milkweed seed pods were just beginning to open.
  • Looking up at a chickadee in the Old Gravel Pit was rewarding: in its company were blue-headed vireo, northern parula, prairy warbler and ruby-crowned kinglet.
  • Nice day.
Witch Hazel

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Great Blue Heron
  • 5 Turkey Vulture
  • 2 Mourning Dove
  • 3 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 2 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Blue-headed Vireo
  • 9 Blue Jay
  • 1 American Crow
  • 12 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 3 Tufted Titmouse
  • 4 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • 1 American Robin
  • 1 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Northern Parula
  • 3 Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • 1 Prairie Warbler
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 Northern Cardinal
  • 1 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 3 Cabbage White
  • 2 Clouded Sulphur
  • 1 Eastern Comma
Caterpillars
  • 1 Haploa species
Plants
  • 1 Witch hazel

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