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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 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
Faded ferns
Mushroom & flying ant
Tiny orange mushrooms
Shelf fungus
Gray mushrooms
Coral fungus
Black cohosh
Boardwalk through the fen
Witch hazel
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


  • 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

Notes and changes since last report

  • It was cloudy, 60°, and occasionally breezy at 12:00 PM on September 26, 2012. It calmed down and there were sprinkles later.
  • Several butterflies made appearances in spite of this unfavorable weather.
  • Waterman Bird club and Cary Institute dedicated two memorial benches this afternoon.
  • My clutch cable broke on the way home.

The Trails

  • It was one of those cool, gray days that get surprisingly sticky when you start moving along.
  • A couple crows in a dead tree along the front Old Hayfield were making a lot of noise.
  • Dogbane was turning golden in the back corner.
  • I stopped to look for the long, skinny seed pods and instead found a long, skinny caterpillar - one of the inchworms, or geometer moths.
  • Pods were indeed present, but in searching for the most photogenic I came across another caterpillar. Kind of like a very plain tiger moth, I thought... dogbane tiger moth? Only the Golden Guide agreed; "Delicate cycnia" claimed the other books... but the latin names were the same.
  • I settled on one nice grouping of pods and moved on.
  • Even though the back Old Hayfield had been mowed, I circled it anyway because, well, that's what I do. A large dark butterfly zig-zagged from behind and landed along the tree line - a mourning cloak!
  • Along that tree line, burning bush was warming up.
  • Birds eat the berries and assist the spread of this alien.
  • If it hadn't been for the 'cloak on this cool, gray day, a pearl crescent in the Old Pasture would have been more exciting.
  • Another little bit of orange went racing by... too fast for a "PC". It was an American copper.
  • A dead tree along the Wappinger Creek Trail was sporting some amazingly orange fungi. I'll have to keep an eye on these.
  • I interrupted my usual route to attend the dedication of two memorial benches, one in the Scotch Pine Alleé, and one in the Lowlands.
  • Members of the family, the Bird Club, and the Institute attended.
  • Back on my rounds again, I admired partridge berry tucked among the hemlock roots on the Cary Pines Trail.
  • A little farther along I was struck by the geometric regularity of Virginia creeper. creeping up a tree.
  • In the Fern Glen, a lesser traveled trail surprised me with black cohosh.
  • The sepals fall off and the petals are tiny giving the impression each blossom is just a cluster of stamens.
  • Witch hazel was just beginning to bloom around the pond and in the shrub swamp; I smelled it before I could see it.
  • Fungi were widely spread along the trails today. I stopped for a pair of puffballs in the Old Gravel Pit, but it had sprinkled briefly once already and I didn't want to push my luck so I pressed on wondering rather than waiting to see if it was slugs that had made the all too familiar holes.
  • Luck was indeed with me: drops began to fall as I approached my driveway and my clutch cable failed just as I arrived at the garage door. Bad luck doesn't get any better.
Front Old Hayfield
An inchworm or geometer
Dogbane tiger moth Delicate cycnia
Dogbane pods
Burning bush
Burning bush
Pearl crescent
American copper
Screaming orange
Memorial bench dedication
Virginia creeper
Black cohosh
Black cohosh
Witch hazel


  • 2 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 2 Downy Woodpecker
  • 2 Northern Flicker
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 4 Blue Jay
  • 4 American Crow
  • 5 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 Tufted Titmouse
  • 5 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Eastern Bluebird
  • 2 Palm Warbler
  • 1 Black-and-white Warbler
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 American Goldfinch
  • 1 Cabbage White
  • 1 American Copper
  • 1 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Mourning Cloak
  • 1 Dogbane tiger moth
  • 1 Geometer
  • Black cohosh
  • Witch hazel


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