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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:

  • 75°F, cloudy and breezy at 10:45 AM, becoming brighter and warmer for a while.
  • Temps have been holding in the 80s and there have been showers and occasional rain every several days.
  • Three pairs of eyes today helped make more observations.
  • I don't usually select a feature photo from "the previous week" let alone off the usual route. Today, however...

The Trails

  • An eastern tailed-blue found one of us tasty, making "proceed with caution" a necessity on our part.
  • A moth flew into and might have escaped from an orb-weaver's well worn web, but the spider was quick.
  • In an amazing feat of deception, I coaxed the camera's well meaning, but misguided auto-focus onto a halloween pennant.
  • Oh yes, goldenrods, I realized, were beginning to bloom.
  • So were red chanterelles at the back of the Old Pasture - if mushrooms can be said to bloom.
  • I couldn't pass up the opportunity to snap a female dun skipper perfectly posed.
  • I'd spent some time last season on the Wappinger Creek Trail dealing with the first appearance of the recent invasive, Japanese stilt grass. Obviously, not enough time. The shiny mid-rib distinguishes it from a similar native grass. The extra stilt-like roots it puts down will confirm its ID.
  • In the Fern Glen, the antennae and proboscis were the flaw in the disguise. This was not the gentle (usually) pollen and nectar foraging bumble bee, but a predatious robber fly.
  • At the back of the pond, sneezeweed was beginning to bloom. Each dot in the cone is considered an individual flower.
  • Around the corner, sweet pepperbush was already filling the air with its scent even at this early stage.
  • In the shrub swamp, a red-spotted purple stopped to soak up some sun.
  • On the way out of the Glen, the broad leaf of zigzag goldenrod was easy to recognize.
  • I paused as I came upon the dead tree as Cary Pines Trail heads towards the Old Gravel Pit.
  • It was one tiny mushroom that I'd noticed.
  • Of course the more you look the more you find. I recognized a bright, white fungus from elsewhere the year before.
  • And likewise some screaming pink balls.
  • Another tiny black mushroom rose above a plain of moss.
  • By now it had clouded over again and I'd left my lunch in the car. Time to move on.
Eastern tailed-blue
Orb-weaver and moth
Halloween pennant
Red chanterelles
Female dun skipper
Japanese stilt grass
Robber fly
Sweet pepperbush
Red-spotted purple
Zigzag goldenrod
Dead tree
Tiny mushroom
White fungus
Pink balls fungus
Another tiny mushroom
Female Zabulon skipper


  • 1 Cooper's Hawk
  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 1 American Woodcock
  • 1 Mourning Dove
  • 5 Chimney Swift
  • 2 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 1 Eastern Kingbird
  • 2 Blue Jay
  • 5 American Crow
  • 10 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 7 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 2 Wood Thrush
  • 2 American Robin
  • 4 Gray Catbird
  • 3 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Blue-winged Warbler
  • 1 American Redstart
  • 1 Louisiana Waterthrush
  • 4 Eastern Towhee
  • 2 Field Sparrow
  • 2 Indigo Bunting
  • 6 American Goldfinch
  • 4 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 2 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 63 Cabbage White
  • 4 Clouded Sulphur
  • 2 Orange Sulphur
  • 3 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 11 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 1 Meadow Fritillary
  • 27 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Question Mark
  • 1 Painted Lady
  • 2 Red-spotted Purple
  • 1 Viceroy
  • 2 Appalachian Brown
  • 10 Common Ringlet
  • 22 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 9 Monarch
  • 26 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 5 Least Skipper
  • 1 Peck's Skipper
  • 3 Northern Broken-Dash
  • 9 Zabulon Skipper
  • 4 Dun Skipper
  • 1 Sneezeweed
  • 1 Sweet pepperbush
  • 1 Zigzag goldenrod
  • 2 Dogbane Tiger Moth
  • 1 Galium Sphinx
  • 2 Hummingbird Clearwing
  • 1 Snowberry Clearwing
  • 1 White-striped Black
  • But we started at Gifford House parking lot where New York iron weed, which favors wet places, seemed happy enough.
  • Nearby, stripped milkweed leaves caught our attention.
  • It was not the work of monarch caterpillars, but milkweed tussock moth caterpillars. This was only the first of several instances around the parking lot.
  • In contrast, if it weren't for the movement, this immature katydid would never have been noticed.
  • The split in the Cary Pines Trail at the end of the Scotch Pine Alleé was a good butterfly spot this morning with tiger swallowtail, great spangled fritillary, red-spotted purple and others.
  • In the Fern Glen, Clethra, or sweet pepperbush, was about to bloom.
  • Near the deck, green-headed coneflower had actually started.
  • Along the road near the bridge, Indian tobacco, a lobelia, was indeed blooming.
  • Just in from the kiosk, cardinal flower, another lobelia, was bursting.
  • Farther in, white wood aster had joined the ranks of the blooming.
  • The Sedge Meadow Trail was very much alive with birds, butterflies and well, enormous flies. I think this is a white-faced fly, Archytas apicifer.
  • The back Old Hayfield had several olive hairstreaks. I find them on flowers that other butterflies seem to ignore: queen Anne's lace and yarrow.
  • In the front Old Hayfield, a meadow fritillary amazed me by sitting long enough for a photo.
  • Although the Lowlands are not part of my usual route, I feel a new species (to me) is worth mention. I'd heard suggestions that the bronze copper might be in the Lowlands, but I'd never seen it... anywhere. As I was leaving last Monday, something told me to take a stroll down there. A dogbane patch, still blooming, had a nice assortment of butterflies. Beyond, it was grassier with mostly pearl crescents and common ringlets. But one was different and landed right in front of me. To paraphrase Glassberg in his field guide, in pictures there is a similarity to the American copper; in the field there is no doubt. I got a good photo from below. Today, I'd come back for a better shot above and to see if there were more around. An hour of searching turned up only the one - and in the same spot, basking again in the tall grass. It is larger than a pearl crescent, but maybe a little smaller than a common ringlet. All three show orange in flight, but its orange is more like that of the crescent and that is perhaps why it will fly up to challenge passing crescents, but ignore ringlets. Watch them both!
Bronze Copper
New York ironweed
Common milkweed with...
...Milkweed tussock moth caterpillars
Clethra, sweet pepperbush
Green-headed coneflower
Indian tobacco
Cardinal flower
White wood aster
White-faced fly
'Olive' juniper hairstreak
Meadow fritillary
Bronze copper


  • 4 Chimney Swift
  • 1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • 1 Belted Kingfisher
  • 2 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Northern Flicker
  • 1 Eastern Kingbird
  • 1 Warbling Vireo
  • 1 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 1 Blue Jay
  • 3 American Crow
  • 6 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 3 Tufted Titmouse
  • 4 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Eastern Bluebird
  • 3 American Robin
  • 3 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Cedar Waxwing
  • 2 Blue-winged Warbler
  • 2 American Redstart
  • 1 Worm-eating Warbler
  • 1 Scarlet Tanager
  • 5 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 Chipping Sparrow
  • 5 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Song Sparrow
  • 1 Northern Cardinal
  • 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • 2 Indigo Bunting
  • 7 American Goldfinch
  • 9 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 1 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 59 Cabbage White
  • 6 Clouded Sulphur
  • 8 Orange Sulphur
  • 3 'Olive' Juniper Hairstreak
  • 2 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 1 Spring Azure
  • 13 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 2 Meadow Fritillary
  • 31 Pearl Crescent
  • 2 Painted Lady
  • 6 Red-spotted Purple
  • 1 Northern Pearly-eye
  • 6 Appalachian Brown
  • 22 Common Ringlet
  • 17 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 8 Monarch
  • 15 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Peck's Skipper
  • 1 Crossline Skipper
  • 9 Northern Broken-Dash
  • 2 Mulberry Wing
  • 4 Dun Skipper
  • 1 Cardinal flower
  • 1 Green-headed coneflower
  • 1 Indian tobacco
  • 1 New York ironweed
  • 1 White wood aster
  • 3 Hummingbird Clearwing


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