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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, 55° and calm at 2:30 PM on October 17, 2012.
  • The sun was warmer than the air was cool.
  • There was still a butterfly lurking along a sunny edge.
  • At the end of the month, the grounds close for the season.

The Trails

  • A goldenrod had survived the annual mowing of the Little Bluestem Meadow.
  • Two maples across the meadow from the new bench were bare already.
  • Low sun was illuminating foliage in the Old Gravel Pit.
  • I'd decided to leave my sweatshirt in the parking lot. Standing in warm pockets of sun, surrounded by layers of color, I did not miss it.
  • One corner of the pond has been catching the last rays of sun in the Fern Glen.
  • Trees were begging to have photos of their reflections flipped upside down.
  • Leaves floating on the tannin blackened water recalled the early works of M. C. Escher.
  • At the back of the pond, sweet pepperbush was glowing against the black waters below.
  • A long, quiet walk along the Cary Pines Trail was punctuated by a patch of sun coming through the canopy to ignite a little maple.
  • The flood plain section of the Wappinger Creek Trail had just a few new mushrooms today.
  • The edge of the back Old Hayfield promised to hold a butterfly or two.
  • It wasn't until the front Field however, that I found one... Actually it found me first, darting out from the same tree as did last week's red admiral.
  • I could just get enough of a peek at the underside and top side to call it an eastern comma - question marks had been more common this year.
  • With my quest for a butterfly fulfilled, I took a last look across the field at Gifford House and made my way home.
Little Bluestem Meadow mowed
Bare maples
Foliage in the Old Gravel Pit
Foliage in the Old Gravel Pit
Fern Glen pond
Fern Glen pond
Fern Glen pond
Sweet pepperbush
Sun on a maple
Mushrooms
The back Old Hayfield
Eastern comma
Eastern comma
Eastern comma
Gifford House

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 6 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Hairy Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 3 Blue Jay
  • 6 American Crow
  • 22 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 8 Tufted Titmouse
  • 6 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 5 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Carolina Wren
  • 3 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 7 Eastern Bluebird
  • 2 American Robin
  • 1 Palm Warbler
  • 2 Field Sparrow
  • 6 Fox Sparrow
  • 6 White-throated Sparrow
  • 19 Dark-eyed Junco
  • 4 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 1 Eastern Comma

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

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