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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 72°F, partly cloudy, and calm at 3:00 PM on August 23, 2017.
  • This week's trail report covers the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
  • Late season caterpillars have been showing up, e.g., hickory tussock moth caterpillar.
  • And butterflies have been slowing down.

The Trails

  • It was beautiful with cool air and warm sun as I looked back towards the Old Hayfield at Gifford House.
  • A cool afternoon made for few butterflies in the Little Bluestem Meadow.
  • That late version of black cohosh was at the Fern Glen entrance.
  • Differences in the flower compared to the earlier are hard to pick out without a lens.
  • Along the pond, bottle gentian was blooming - maybe. That's as far as it gets.
  • Groundnut, that enthusiastic vine between the kiosk and pond, was blooming today.
  • Back by the bridge, sneezeweed was blooming too.
  • Several least skippers were interacting and perching on jewelweed in the sun.
  • Towering above them, NY ironweed was doing well.
  • These blossoms can be attractive to butterflies, but not right then...
  • At the back of the pond, sweet pepperbush was blooming - I thought it did already... I guess not.
  • Back off the fen boardwalk, bittersweet nightshade berries were just beyond ripe.
  • All around, in and out of the wetlands, rough-leaved goldenrod was blooming. The big basal leaves and habitat make this goldenrod easy to ID.
  • Shape, texture and posture of the pods are distinct from common milkweed.
  • Purple-leaved willow herb doesn't look like much.
  • Closer examination reveals a tiny pink - turning to white - flower with its base looking like a long pod.
  • Around the corner, turtlehead was doing well.
  • Near the Shrub Swamp plaque, was what looked like a young giant puffball.
  • No, it was a big mushroom.
  • It was a quiet walk to the "Appendix", where a hemlock looper moth fluttered by and landed on a hemlock twig.
  • Back at Gifford parking lot I remembered to check last week's monarch chrysalis - I didn't expect much more.
  • Getting ready to leave, I noticed I had a hitchhiker: a snowberry clearwing caterpillar. I found a honeysuckle bush for it and was gone.
  • Next week: the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
Snowberry Clearwing

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 2 Blue Jay
  • 5 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 American Robin
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
Butterflies
  • 1 Cabbage White
  • 4 Clouded Sulphur
  • 2 Orange Sulphur
  • 2 Least Skipper
Caterpillars
  • 1 Snowberry clearwing
Plants
  • 1 Bottle gentian
  • 1 Groundnut
  • 1 Sweet pepperbush
Moth
  • 1 Hemlock looper moth

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 75°F, partly cloudy, and calm at 1:00 PM on August 23, 2017.
  • This week's trail report covers the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
  • Yesterday's heat and humidity ended with thunder storms giving us pleasant temps and humidity today.
  • Fall colors were beginning to appear...

The Trails

  • One could no longer ignore the fact that summer was getting late with all the goldenrods in the front Old Hayfield.
  • Towards the back of the field, dogbanes were making seed pods.
  • Along the dry side of the Sedge Meadow Trail, gray dogwood berries were ripening to white.
  • In moister sections, silky dogwood berries were turning from green to white to blue.
  • The sky over the Gifford Tenent Barn was very nice.
  • First signs of fall color were showing up in burning bush.
  • As the trail dropped down to the boardwalk, an eastern comma appeared, also in fall colors, i.e., its hindwings were orange, not black.
  • In the Sedge Meadow, tearthumb was climbing up the purple loosestrife.
  • The tiny flowers can be easy to overlook.
  • The tiny barbs are not easy to miss.
  • A big sky stretched across the back Old Hayfield, too.
  • On the ground, red was showing up in the Virginia creeper.
  • In between, butterfly diversity seemed to be starting to drop with great spangled fritillaries dominating.
  • Close behind were silver-spotted skippers.
  • The view from the bluff over the full flowing Wappinger Creek was nice.
  • At the bottom of the trail, hickory nuts awaited the unwary foot.
  • Farther along was another favorite creek view.
  • In the flood plain zig-zag goldenrod was just about to bloom.
  • Just past that, jumpseed was blooming.
  • Its tiny flowers will produce tiny, self propelled seeds.
  • At the foot bridge below the "Appendix", wood nettle was making its seeds.
  • As they ripen, the seeds look like little black orbs offered in little green cups.
  • An interesting ambush bug lurked among the seeds - it had a yellowish as opposed the usual green.
  • Under the nettle was an expanse of invasive Japanese stilt grass - this one had only 3 stilts.
  • A lucky American millipede survived all the foot traffic.
  • The creek view at the "Appendix" was a nice finish.
  • Or so I thought: there was activity back at the Gifford trail head kiosk.
  • Right on the sign-in box was a monarch chrysalis. With wings becoming visible, eclosure (hatching) was imminent - perhaps the next morning.
  • Next week: the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
Monarch Chrysalis

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • 2 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 1 Mystery Flycatcher
  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 1 Great Crested Flycatcher
  • 4 Blue Jay
  • 5 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 House Wren
  • 4 Gray Catbird
  • 2 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Pine Warbler
  • 1 Ovenbird
  • 1 Chipping Sparrow
  • 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • 3 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 1 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 59 Cabbage White
  • 1 Clouded Sulphur
  • 8 Orange Sulphur
  • 1 Spring Azure
  • 32 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 12 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Eastern Comma
  • 1 Appalachian Brown
  • 2 Common Ringlet
  • 4 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 3 Monarch
  • 29 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Northern Broken-Dash
Plants
  • 1 Black cohosh
  • 1 Jumpseed
  • 1 New York ironweed
  • 1 Purple-leaved willow herb
  • 1 Rough-leaved goldenrod
  • 1 Sneezeweed
  • 1 Tearthumb
  • 1 Turtlehead

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