trail map

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 85°F and climbing with hazy skies and tropical humidity at 12:30 PM on September 11, 2013.
  • Red berries was the main theme today.
  • Mosquitoes have continued to decline.
  • It was a day of both missed opportunities and new discoveries.

The Trails

  • First discovery of the day was that the front Old Hayfield had been mowed. The back field gets its haircut on even years so that wildlife always has refuge.
  • Along the Scotch Pine Alleé silverrod was blooming. Easily identified as the only white goldenrod among our 60 some species, it is a personal favorite.
  • Insects such as the paper wasp love all goldenrods. Pick out a patch and watch the traffic.
  • The mosquitoes in the Old Gravel Pit weren't too bad today. I could even linger at the Fern Glen end of the trail when a hairstreak dropped into a patch of sun for a moment... only a moment then it was gone. Maybe a white M? They were around in August two years ago.
  • While looking around for the hairsteak, I found an interesting beetle under a leaf.
  • Giving up, I headed for the fern Glen but paused again when some crows raised a fuss. Something big flew among the hemlocks. I slowly eased my binoculars around a tree to get a better look at a blob in the branches and it resolved into a barred owl's face. I must have resolved into a human and it moved on.
  • In the Fern Glen, winterberry berries were turning red.
  • So too, the spicebush.
  • Another shrub seemed a little different: smooth leaf edges and slightly larger fruit.
  • Studying the photo at home, I nearly leapt out of my chair. A detail I'd overlooked while focused on the berries was probably a pawpaw sphinx caterpillar. I love it. I don't know how many times I've discovered things in photos while editing them.
  • The one remaining saddleback caterpillar was still where I'd last seen it.
  • Continuing the red theme was Jack-in-the-pulpit.
  • Indian cucumber root near the stone bridge provided a variation on the theme with a black berry against red leaves.
  • From the stone bridge itself I saw a great blue heron glide by on its way to a landing. Just as I had the camera on it, it took off...
  • One of the leaves dropping into the pond seemed different: it was a giant water bug.
  • Near the great snag from Hurricane Sandy on the Cary Pines Trail, tall white lettuce was indeed tall and going to seed.
  • Along the flood plain of the Wappinger Creek Trail, zig-zag goldenrod had been blooming. The woodland habitat, its bottle brush bloom and roundish, toothed leaves make it not too tough a call. "Zig-zag"? The stem bends a bit at each leaf node.
  • The shiney mid rib of invasive Japanese stilt grass is a dead give away. The flower spike was just beginning to emerge; now would be the last chance to whack it and leave it without worry of seeds forming.
  • Big forest dragonflies had eluded me several times today. One finally perched long enough and with enough light for a shot.
  • The parting view of the day was a favorite clump of goldenrod at the unmowed edge of the front Old Hayfield.
  • Which one? The heat and humidity had been draining. I was satisfied with two out of three and headed home. A thunder shower along the way would have been welcome, but it wasn't til evening that they honored their forecast.
Front Old Hayfield mowed
Silver-rod
Silver-rod
Beetle
Winterberry
Spicebush
Smooth winterberry and...
Pawpaw sphinx caterpillar
Saddleback caterpillar
Jack-in-the-pulpit
Indian cucumber root
Giant water bug
Tall white lettuce
Tall white lettuce
Zig-zag goldenrod
Japanese stilt grass
Dragonfly
Goldenrod

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Great Blue Heron
  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 1 Barred Owl
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Hairy Woodpecker
  • 2 Northern Flicker
  • 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 5 Eastern Phoebe
  • 2 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 8 Blue Jay
  • 2 American Crow
  • 15 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 3 Brown Creeper
  • 3 House Wren
  • 3 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 American Robin
  • 3 Gray Catbird
  • 2 Common Yellowthroat
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 3 Field Sparrow
  • 2 Northern Cardinal
  • 2 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 10 Cabbage White
  • 7 Clouded Sulphur
  • 3 Orange Sulphur
  • 1 American Copper
  • 3 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 1 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 1 Meadow Fritillary
  • 5 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Least Skipper
  • 2 Zabulon Skipper
Caterpillars
  • 1 Pawpaw Sphinx
Insects
  • Giant water bug
Plants
  • 1 Japanese stilt grass
  • 1 Silver-rod
  • 1 Zig-zag goldenrod

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 75°F, partly cloudy and calm at 1:30 PM on September 4, 2013.
  • Yesterday ended a stretch of warm, humid weather punctuated with thunder showers.
  • Some interesting insects today.
  • Mosquitoes weren't even that bad in the Old Gravel Pit.

The Trails

  • Skys were blue and the air was dry and cool over the front Old Hayfield.
  • A praying mantis landed in the path not far in front of me.
  • A number of eastern tailed-blues scampered at ankle height as I continued.
  • On the Sedge Meadow Trail, a crane fly floated across coming to rest on a little branch.
  • In the back of the back Old Hayfield, an immature bug was perched on the fruit of an ironwood.
  • While retracing my steps on the Sedge Meadow Trail, I was surprised by a great spangled fritillary sitting in a tiny patch of sun.
  • In the Old Pasture, a thread-legged bug landed next to the bench. Floating in the air, spread legged, with white joints, it made me think phantom crane fly when I first encountered one. A few seasons passed before I was able to follow one until it landed; it looked like a walking stick! The next time it happened, a passing visitor exclaimed wonder that walking sticks could fly. A little research turned up that indeed one species can... in Florida. Now it went from a simple ID challenge to a mystery. When one turned up at a porch light, I did too - with a jar. The turning point was when it ignored its standard pet food, lettuce, and I realized it had piercing/sucking, not chewing mouth parts - and raptorial forelegs, like a praying mantis: this was no vegetarian! I turned my inqueries to the true bugs and lo and behold, we finally had a match: the short-winged thread-legged bug - its genus being in the assassin bug family.
  • Across from the bench, a not the regular garden spider was tending its web.
  • A large, green grasshopper crash landed and became invisible in the path.
  • I knew there had to be an American copper around, and when it finally showed up I could move on.
  • As the path headed into the woods for the creek, a caterpillar, illuminated by a beam of sun, dangled on a silk thread, rolling it into a ball to winch itself back up into its tree.
  • Farther along the path a white wood aster was nicely lit up.
  • Towards the end of the Cary Pines Trail, a barberry geometer let me get just a couple shots.
  • In the Fern Glen was a hillside of ragweed. The pollen from its tiny male flowers is considered the main cause of hay fever.
  • The view of ostrich fern across the pond was striking.
  • From the boardwalk across the fen, turtlehead could be seen on both sides.
  • Arrow-leaved tearthumb was blooming, too.
  • Swamp milkweed had finished blooming and was now forming seed pods.
  • Boneset had been blooming since July and looked like it would continue for a while.
  • It's always a little hard to tell if beggar-ticks are coming or going - their ray flowers - "petals" are usually insignificant.
  • Mixed in with that was Bur-marigold, a more convincing flower in the same genus.
  • Only one of the saddleback caterpillars could be found today. It was fat.
  • In the Old Gravel Pit, fall webworm had a nest in honeysuckle.
  • As I neared the Carriage House on the Scotch Pine Alleé, something flew across my path. Large as a fritillary, but brown and erratic as a hackberry, it had my attention... It landed on a tree... It was one of the catocala underwing moths. They hide well against tree bark, but in the gap between its folded forewings was the slightest hint of smouldering ember that is the orange hind wing that gives the group their name. Wary and fast, they explode into flight when disturbed with a startling display of the hind wings. It would only let me get just so close. And when I tried to follow it, even less close.
  • But my dinner was close so I was gone, too.
Front Old Hayfield
Praying mantis
Eastern tailed-blue male
Crane fly
Immature bug on ironwood fruit
Great spangled fritillary
Short-winged thread-legged bug
Short-winged thread-legged bug
Not a regular garden spider
Grasshopper
Caterpillar on a thread
White wood aster
Barberry geometer
Common ragweed
Common ragweed
Ostrich fern
Turtlehead
Arrow-leaved tearthumb
Swamp milkweed pods
Boneset
Beggar-ticks
Bur-marigold
Saddleback caterpillar
Fall webworm nest
One of the Catocala underwings

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 2 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 2 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 6 Blue Jay
  • 2 American Crow
  • 1 Common Raven
  • 5 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 3 Tufted Titmouse
  • 3 House Wren
  • 4 American Robin
  • 4 Gray Catbird
  • 2 Cedar Waxwing
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 8 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Northern Cardinal
Butterflies
  • 71 Cabbage White
  • 36 Clouded Sulphur
  • 23 Orange Sulphur
  • 1 American Copper
  • 6 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 8 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 5 Meadow Fritillary
  • 36 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Eastern Comma
  • 2 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 16 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Least Skipper
  • 1 Peck's Skipper
  • 3 Zabulon Skipper
Caterpillars
  • 1 Fall webworm
Insects
  • 1 Praying mantis
  • 1 Thread-legged bug
Plants
  • 1 Arrow-leaved tearthumb
  • 1 Beggar-ticks
  • 1 Bur-marigold
  • 1 Turtlehead
Moth
  • 1 Barberry geometer
  • 1 Catocala Underwing
  • 1 Snowberry Clearwing

Pages

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

Privacy Policy Copyright © 2014