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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 clear and 58° with light breezes at 2:30 PM on October 11, 2012.
  • This was another Thursday walk as Wednesday was wet.
  • A fine, brisk autumn day with low afternoon light on golden leaves and the scent of the earth in the air.
  • Two butterflies were about in spite of the cool air.

The Trails

  • The Old Hayfield by Gifford House was starting to look bare.
  • It was warm along the sunny edge so it wasn't a complete surprise when a red admiral darted out to challenge me.
  • Goldenrods were puffing up with their tiny fuzzy seeds.
  • Milkweed was sending their larger parachutes aloft.
  • In WWII milkweed fluff was used to insulate battle vests.
  • An occasion bloom of wild basel could still be found.
  • Some spotted knapweed was looking perfectly fresh.
  • The little asters were few.
  • Tiny bee mimics - hover flies were still finding them.
  • A surprise was that a giant puffball had survived to maturity in the fast lane of the Sedge Meadow Trail.
  • And it looked like its younger sibling was going to make it as well.
  • Up ahead red glowed as the trail descended into the wood.
  • It was burning bush, a vigorous escapee from cultivation.
  • Leaves were really coming down now, I realized as I looked back along the boardwalk.
  • In the back Old Hayfield some trees were totally bare while others were still green.
  • The sunny edge of the field looked like potential butterfly haunt.
  • Lurking just under the edge was black swallowwort vine, its unblemished leaves testimony to its unpalatability to wildlife - in fact it is poisonous to monarch caterpillars, though it is in the milkweed family.
  • New shoots were waiting for next season... or to take over had I simply pulled the stem up. Last year's rhizome was still there at the bottom of this year's - and still viable had I not dug carefully. Fortunately it had not produced seeds - they are very much like common milkweed's.
  • A favorite sight is the view from the bluff where the trail throught the Old Pasture comes to the Wappinger Creek.
  • The trail bends to the west with proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Low afternoon light illuminated the creek by the Watershed Kiosk.
  • A little farther downstream was another view with a different atmosphere.
  • The footbridge at the end of the floodplain marked the beginning of a waist-high infestation of Japanese stilt grass. A band of volunteers this past weekend stripped it to the ground! Thank you!
  • The last rays of sun in the Fern Glen were falling on ostrich fern along the pond.
  • Witch hazel seemed to be picking up since last week and was filling the cool air with its fragrance.
  • It has been a day of textures: fallen leaves, branches against the sky, here needles and leaves on the boardwalk.
  • Eager as I was to get home, I had to check out the view from the new bench on the Scotch Pine Alleé.
  • Birds were quiet here today and I continued through with a glance back at the light in the Alleé.
  • There was something about the long shadows and the lines of the Carriage House that appealed to my eye.
  • As I continued past, I couldn't help notice the base of the big maple.
  • Perfect little mushrooms.
Front Old Hayfield
Red admiral
Goldenrod
Common milkweed
Common milkweed
Wild basil
Spotted knappweed
Aster
Hover fly on aster
Hover fly on aster
Giant puffball
Giant puffball
Sedge Meadow Trail
Burning bush
Boardwalk on Sedge Meadow Trail
Edge of back Old Hayfield
Edge of back Old Hayfield
Black swallowwort
Black swallowwort roots
Wappinger Creek from the bluff
Light at the end of the tunnel
Wappinger Creek
Wappinger Creek
Site of Japanese stilt grass invasion
Ostrich fern
Witch hazel
Leaves and needles
View from new bench
Carriage House
Scotch Pine Alleé
Carriage House maple
Mushrooms

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Barred Owl
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Hairy Woodpecker
  • 1 Northern Flicker
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 3 Blue Jay
  • 19 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 5 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • 2 American Robin
  • 1 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
Butterflies
  • 1 Cabbage White
  • 1 Red Admiral

Notes and changes since last report:

  • It was overcast, 68°, with occasional mist or very light rain at 1:00 PM on October 03, 2012.
  • No butterflies today, but instead a number of mushrooms.
  • The Scotch Pine Alleé and the Old Pasture were the birding hot spots today.

The Trails

  • There was some fair color in the foliage around the Carriage House, but some trees were looking a little thin already.
  • A classic mushroom was just off to the side along the Scotch Pine Alleé.
  • Bluebirds, warblers and sparrows were active along the whole length.
  • In the fork at the end, fading ferns stood out against a dark background.
  • A flying ant had scaled a mushroom along the path through the Old Gravel Pit.
  • As I rose off my knees I noticed some perfectly shaped - and perfectly tiny orange mushrooms.
  • At the other end of the same branch was a fresh looking shelf fungus.
  • I remember these gray mushrooms near the bottom of the Old Gravel Pit from years before.
  • There was a coral fungus as well.
  • A very fine, light rain began to fall as I approached the Fern Glen where last week's black cohosh was now forming seed pods.
  • The boardwalk through the fen was surrounded by different shades of yellow.
  • Spicebush had strong yellow leaves, elliptical with pointy tips.
  • Witch hazel was just a little more orange and much rounder with lobed edges.
  • Winterberry was almost ghostly pale.
  • At the end of the shrub swamp is a patch of grass that always catches my attention.
  • It strongly resembles Japanese stilt grass, but the mid vein is not shiny and it has a rhizome.
  • The sound of water rushing under the stone bridge was in the air.
  • Low light conditions actually allowed a rare photo upstream where the contrast is usually too great for the camera.
  • The large fairy ring near the shed has not appeared for several years. By the railing along the road, however, is an arc of mushrooms.
  • And they appear to be the same kind - they remind me of pierogies.
  • On the Cary Pines Trail, a log being colonized by mosses and lichens caught my eye and reminded me there are even books on moss gardening.
  • Farther along, at the ridge leaves were glowing golden above the gorge.
  • On the Wappinger Creek Trail, a sample of Japanese stilt grass demonstrated the multiple roots that drop from nodes along the stem.
  • An elm was colonized by interesting orange mushrooms with dark - almost black - stems.
  • Right behind me was wood nettle. I didn't realize they can penetrate jeans...
  • Near the Watershed kiosk was the biggest mushroom of the day.
  • A favorite view is from the bluff above the Wappinger Creek.
  • The high and dry side of the Sedge Meadow Trail held something new for me: little nebulous spider webs.
  • The falling mist was fine enough to highlight rather then wash away the webs.
  • Just past them were puffballs that I'd seen last week; I didn't expect them to survive living on the edge of the path.
  • At the edge of the front Old Hayfield was finally a view that showed off the mist.
  • And there was plenty more on the way home.
Carriage House
Mushroom
Faded ferns
Mushroom & flying ant
Tiny orange mushrooms
Shelf fungus
Gray mushrooms
Coral fungus
Black cohosh
Boardwalk through the fen
Spicebush
Witch hazel
Winterberry
Not Japanese stilt grass
Not Japanese stilt grass
Not Japanese stilt grass
Water under the bridge
Upstream at the stone bridge
Fairy ring section
Fairy ring mushroom
Mossy log
Ridge on Cary Pines Trail
Japanese stilt grass roots
Dark-stemmed orange mushrooms
Dark-stemmed orange mushrooms
Wood nettle
Big mushroom
From the bluff over the Wappinger Creek
Spider webs
Spider webs
Spider webs
Giant puffball
Mist in the air

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Downy Woodpecker
  • 3 Eastern Phoebe
  • 2 Blue Jay
  • 5 American Crow
  • 15 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 4 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 3 Eastern Bluebird
  • 2 Magnolia Warbler
  • 2 Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • 1 Black-throated Green Warbler
  • 3 Palm Warbler
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 4 Chipping Sparrow
  • 1 American Goldfinch

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