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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 partly cloudy, 65°, and breezy at 2:15 PM on September 19, 2012.
  • The previous day's high winds and heavy rains made for plenty of sticks and leaves down.
  • The back Old Hayfield had been mown.
  • Another quiet day for birds and insects.

The Trails

  • The only thing moving in the Gifford House parking lot was a milkweed bug.
  • The skys were dramatic today.
  • Along the driveway to the Carriage House, pokeweed was ripening.
  • Birds enjoy these berries and it was hard to find an intact cluster.
  • Near by, magnolia was forming velvet bud-like thingees that would have to really be seeds.
  • Buckeye, on the other side, was forming its own somewhat peculiar fruit.
  • At the head of the Scotch Pine Alleé was the first of what I would continuously encounter today: branches.
  • The Fern Glen pond had been looking low lately; not so now.
  • I could hear the water rushing under the stone bridge and went over for a look.
  • Nothing like the spring flood, but three inches of rain made for a lively flow today.
  • Turning to leave, I paused to admire maidenhair spleenwort eking out an existance in a crack in the wall.
  • On the way up the hill, asters were putting on a good show.
  • Note the simple, narrow petals for future reference...
  • I looked forward to the Wappinger Creek Trail and comparing the views downstream and upstream to those of last week.
  • The little bluestem grass in the Old Pasture was glowing when backlit.
  • A smaller aster was abundant in the Sedge Meadow.
  • I knew it was coming, but the back Old Hayfield "missing" stopped me in my tracks. And I reflected that it would be a good time to mow my own: the birds were done with their broods and some young shrubs and trees were taking hold.
  • In consideration of the wildlife, the front Old Hayfield's mowing alternates years with the back. And here spotted knapweed was still flowering.
  • Similar in size and color, it looks a lot like an aster or like a thistle but these petals are different.
  • Continuing my lap around the last field of the day, I contemplated the 60 some species of goldenrod here in the Northeast.
  • I came across a locust borer beetle and thoughts drifted to the goldenrod gall insects. Some use only a particular species and produce distinctive galls that make identifying the host plant trivial.
  • There was no problem identifying the last blossoms of wild bergamot on their own merit.
  • On the way home I reflected on asters: they too come in some 60 species - but I don't recall any getting galls.
Milkweed bug
Dramatic skies
Magnolia winter floral buds
Buckeye fruit
Branches down
Fern Glen pond edge
Rain swollen Wappinger Creek
Maidenhair spleenwort
Stone bridge
Wappinger Creek downstream
Wappinger Creek upstream
Bench in little bluestem
Mowed field
Spotted knappweed
Spotted knappweed
Spotted knappweed
Wild bergamot
Locust borer


  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 7 Eastern Phoebe
  • 1 Blue Jay
  • 4 American Crow
  • 8 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 4 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Brown Creeper
  • 1 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Black-and-white Warbler
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 4 American Goldfinch
  • 10 Cabbage White
  • 1 Pearl Crescent

Notes and changes since last report:

  • It was clear, 75°, with low humidity and light breezes at 2:00 PM on September 12, 2012.
  • The sun was warm, the shade was cool, and the air was deliciously fragrant.
  • Birds and butterflies were few today.
  • It was a day to relax and take in the bigger views - the landscape.

The Trails

  • If there weren't many butterflies today, there were still bugs.
  • The beak, which was just licking - not piercing - and the style of wings identify this as a true bug.
  • In the back Old Hayfield, something was a little smaller and silvery compared to the cabbage whites: a spring azure.
  • Something else darted by: a painted lady. OK, we have a little variety today: it had been little more than cabbages and sulphurs to far.
  • In the Old Pasture, several American coppers let me get several angles of view.
  • I lingered to enjoy the views of the Wappinger Creek looking down stream...
  • and upstream...
  • from the area with the little foot bridge and feeder stream.
  • Farther down stream, I surveyed my handiwork with the weed whacker late last week. I didn't eradicate the Japanese stilt grass, but I certainly slowed it down. Let's see if this comes back.
  • As I passed along the ridge of the Cary Pines Trail, a perfectly illuminated spider web caught my eye. The spider had been plucking it like an instrument but ran up to its lair.
  • At the Fern Glen, a painted turtle was basking in the last rays of the day.
  • Gifford House was basking at the edge of the Little Bluestem Meadow as I emerged from the Old Gravel Pit.
  • And I enjoyed the warm, piney air wafting by as I passed in and out of sun and shade along the Scotch Pine Alleé on my way to my ride home.
True bug
True bug
Spring azure
Painted lady
American copper
American copper
Wappinger Creek
Foot bridge
Wappinger Creek
Weed whacked Japanese stilt grass
Spider web
Ridge on the Cary Pines Trail
Painted turtle
Gifford House across the Little Bluestem Meadow
Sctoch Pine Alleé


  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 1 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 5 Blue Jay
  • 15 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Tufted Titmouse
  • 5 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 3 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Common Yellowthroat
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 2 Chipping Sparrow
  • 4 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Song Sparrow
  • 1 Northern Cardinal
  • 9 American Goldfinch
  • 15 Cabbage White
  • 10 Clouded Sulphur
  • 8 Orange Sulphur
  • 1 American Copper
  • 1 Spring Azure
  • 1 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 3 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 American Lady
  • 1 Monarch
  • 1 Silver-spotted Skipper


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