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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 70°F and clear and calm at 1:00 PM on September 18, 2013.
  • Warm sun and cool, dry air. I love this weather.
  • Mosquitoes were almost non-existant. I love this too.
  • Not a skipper in sight anywhere today. Others might love that.

The Trails

  • Right in front of me in the Gifford parking lot was a small milkweed with a colony of the introduced oleander aphids.
  • I thought about looking for monarch caterpillars but didn't have to make a decision: one was already there. It's getting late in the season - I hope it makes it. Their numbers are way down with reports of a 60% drop to a 20 year low at their Mexican winter grounds last winter.
  • Along the edge of the front Old Hayfield was fine example of a goldenrod bunch gall, caused by a midge's larva living inside. Its secretion stops the stem from growing taller, but the leaves keep coming out and so form a bunch, giving the larva a safe place to live. Bunch galls only happen on Canada goldenrod, making that goldenrod ID easier.
  • The boardwalk across the end of the Sedge Meadow had been collecting falling leaves - something I'd been denying.
  • Another goldenrod that I find relatively easy to ID is rough-leaved goldenrod. It likes wet soils and has pretty big basal leaves.
  • The Old Pasture has been reliable for American coppers for a while now. Just sit at the bench and watch the path.
  • Across the path, a white form female sulphur looked as if it were extra massive as it dangled from an already curved goldenrod.
  • A view of the sun dappled Wappinger Creek exemplified the beautiful day it was.
  • Just above the Fern Glen, a spotted apatelodes caterpillar was hanging out under a leaf.
  • There was one a few weeks ago. This time the characteristic red abdominal prolegs were obvious.
  • A dragonfly was perched nearby and I had to try for it.
  • In the Old Gravel Pit, I thought I heard golden-crowned warbler and swung my gaze in that direction but found instead psychadelic spider webs up fairly high.
  • The lighting, the smells in the air... it was spectacular today. The view down the Scotch Pine Alleé was another that will be recalled when this day is mentioned.
  • Off to the side, I spotted my first common milkweed letting loose its seeds to seek new homes. And I returned to my own.
Oleander aphids on milkweed
Monarch caterpillar on milkweed
Canada goldenrod with goldenrod bunch gall
Fallen leaves on Sedge Meadow boardwalk
Rough-leaved goldenrod
American copper
White form female sulphur
Wappinger Creek
Spotted apatelodes
Spotted apatelodes
Dragonfly
Spider web
Scotch Pine Alleé
Milkweed seeds

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Mourning Dove
  • 2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Northern Flicker
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 6 Blue Jay
  • 1 American Crow
  • 18 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 5 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Brown Creeper
  • 2 House Wren
  • 1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 1 Veery
  • 1 American Robin
  • 3 Gray Catbird
  • 4 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Black-and-white Warbler
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 4 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Northern Cardinal
Butterflies
  • 29 Cabbage White
  • 34 Clouded Sulphur
  • 14 Orange Sulphur
  • 1 American Copper
  • 3 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 1 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 1 Meadow Fritillary
  • 13 Pearl Crescent
Caterpillars
  • 1 Monarch
  • 1 Spotted apatelodes
Moth
  • 1 Snowberry Clearwing

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

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