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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 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
Partridgeberry
Virginia creeper
Black cohosh
Black cohosh
Witch hazel
Puffballs

Sightings

Birds
  • 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
Butterflies
  • 1 Cabbage White
  • 1 American Copper
  • 1 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Mourning Cloak
Caterpillars
  • 1 Dogbane tiger moth
  • 1 Geometer
Plants
  • Black cohosh
  • Witch hazel

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
Pokeweed
Pokeweed
Magnolia winter floral buds
Buckeye fruit
Branches down
Fern Glen pond edge
Rain swollen Wappinger Creek
Maidenhair spleenwort
Stone bridge
Asters
Asters
Wappinger Creek downstream
Wappinger Creek upstream
Bench in little bluestem
Asters
Mowed field
Spotted knappweed
Spotted knappweed
Spotted knappweed
Goldenrods
Wild bergamot
Locust borer

Sightings

Birds
  • 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
Butterflies
  • 10 Cabbage White
  • 1 Pearl Crescent

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