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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 started at 75°F, clear, and calm at 11:30 AM on August 9, 2017.
  • This week's trail report covers the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
  • Cicadas have been calling during the day, katydids at night.
  • I had company on the trails today.

The Trails

  • Once again monarchs could be found in many of the fields, including a well worn individual behind Gifford House.
  • A painted lady was in the Canada thistle right at the trail head.
  • She had the uncanny ability to take off almost every time I got the camera on her.
  • I took a break to get something easy: one of a number of great spangled fritillaries.
  • One more try and I got her laying eggs on the thistle.
  • Something bigger buzzed by and dropped into the bedstraws and grasses: a cicada.
  • I said "good enough" and continued along the front Old Hayfield surveying the first goldenrods in bloom.
  • Today I remembered to get after the black swallowwort along the side of the field. Pods were turning yellow or brown. Their evil seeds would soon be flying.
  • Out off the edges of the fields, house wrens were scolding.
  • A dangling triangle caught my eye - dogbanes apparently resemble their milkweed cousings in have paired pollen sacks, "pollinia". Insects too weak to carry them away can be doomed when they stuck to them.
  • Another danger in many flowers is the ambush bug. This pair was too busy to be a threat.
  • The harmless hunchback bee fly was a very cool thing to find.
  • Down on the Wappinger Creek Trail, Cary's own day campers were exploring the creek and showed us a bucket of whirligig beetles.
  • Their eyes are split to see above and below the water line and a handfull of them smells like watermelon.
  • Crayfish were deftly displayed for us.
  • Near the Appendix, wood nettle now had its female flowers on top as well as the male flowers along the stem.
  • Up the hill, a well seasoned red-spotted purple dropped in to bask in the sun.
  • With the long tail it looked like a dove flying out of the Scots Pine Allée, but it was too big. It landed in that dead tree in the Little Bluestem Meadow.
  • It was an American kestrel.
  • The view of the red back and tail is distinct.
  • Next week: the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
Hunchback Bee Fly


  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 2 Blue Jay
  • 1 American Crow
  • 1 Tree Swallow
  • 2 House Wren
  • 1 American Robin
  • 6 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 Red-winged Blackbird
  • 1 Black Swallowtail
  • 5 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 2 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 30 Cabbage White
  • 1 Clouded Sulphur
  • 1 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 22 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 30 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Painted Lady
  • 1 Red-spotted Purple
  • 1 Appalachian Brown
  • 1 Little Wood-Satyr
  • 4 Common Ringlet
  • 3 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 5 Monarch
  • 12 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Dun Skipper
  • 8 Hummingbird Clearwing
  • 10 Snowberry Clearwing
  • It started at 82°F, cloudy, and windy at 2:30 PM on August 2, 2017. Rain at 66°F followed...
  • This week's trail report covers the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
  • Butterflies and birds were both hunkered down today.

The Trails

  • Maybe most of the dark clouds stayed to the north, but some came over Gifford parking lot bringing a shower.
  • The big kiosk provided shelter and a view of the trail head...
  • ... and of a young eastern bluebird taking a bath in a driveway puddle.
  • It would duck down and flap around.
  • The results were not pretty.
  • As the sky brightened and rain lightened to sprinkles, I headed out towards the Carriage House where mist was rising off the road.
  • The fields were filling with Queen Anne's lace.
  • From the Scots Pine Allée, clouds and mist could be seen in the hills beyond.
  • From the Little Bluestem Meadow, the view of the other direction was ominous.
  • A glance over the shoulder towards Gifford House verified I was surrounded by the scattered showers in the forecast.
  • The entrance to the Old Gravel Pit was not exactly welcoming, but that was the way...
  • Light rain was falling at the Fern Glen, where Culver's root was blooming.
  • Along the edge of the pond, elderberry were starting to ripen.
  • On the trail on the other side of the kiosk, great lobelia had started to bloom.
  • Near the Shrub Swamp plaque, there appeared to be water hemlock blooming. This is one of a number of poisonous parsely family members.
  • On the other side of the cross road was a brand new bridge.
  • Right off the side of it was water parsnip.
  • The flower is different from the preceding, but the leaves are even more distinct.
  • Up ahead, helleborine, an alien orchid, was still blooming.
  • Lemon smelling horse-balm had started blooming and looked almost finished.
  • Around the corner, white wood aster had started and looked like it would continue for a while.
  • Light rain and I continued along the Cary Pines Trail where Indian pipe was coming up next to last season's stalks.
  • Next week: the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
Culver's Root


  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 3 Blue Jay
  • 1 American Crow
  • 1 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 Carolina Wren
  • 3 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 Gray Catbird
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 Chipping Sparrow
  • 1 American Goldfinch
  • 1 Great lobelia
  • 1 Horse-balm
  • 1 Indian pipe
  • 1 Queen Anne's lace
  • 1 Water hemlock
  • 1 Water parsnip
  • 1 White wood aste



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