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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 65°F, and mostly cloudy with light breezes at 3:00 PM on April 12, 2017
  • This first trail report of the season covers the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
  • Rain this morning followed yesteday's 90 degree temps. A month ago - almost to the day - 2 feet of snow fell.
  • The snow is gone. Let's hope for a little Spring before the 90s stay.

The Trails

  • Except for greening grass, it didn't look too much like spring at Gifford House.
  • There was a hint of yellow at the head of the Scots Pine Alleé.
  • It was from the faithful Japanese cornelian cherry.
  • The Little Bluestem Meadow was still mostly brown.
  • But along the edges, honeysuckle bushes were already starting to leaf out.
  • Along the trail through the Old Gravel Pit, an evergreen club moss had made it through the winter.
  • In the Fern Glen's limestone cobble things were happening with Dutchman's-breeches being the first flower to greet the visitor.
  • Early meadow-rue would be a while yet, but even at this stage, is interesting to watch.
  • The Hepaticas are a favorite early flower. Sharp-lobed and round-lobed refer to the leaf shapes of our two species. The hairy stems and buds are almost as nice as the flowers.
  • At the back of the pond, resembling dandelion, was coltsfoot. The scaly stem is a give away.
  • Skunk cabbage had been flowering for a while and some were already sending up leaves.
  • In the back of the 'Glen, a few clumps of ramps were coming up. These leaves will disappear before the flowers appear.
  • On the other hand, trout-lily leaves will persist as the plants flower and go to seed.
  • Behind the kiosk, false hellebore was sending up its first leaves.
  • There will be something new flowering almost every day now in the Fern Glen.
  • There were changes on the Cary Pines Trail during the winter.
  • "Disturbance and recovery" happens all the time, and it's not all bad.
  • The "snags" can be hard for deer to penetrate and so become harbors for seedlings reaching for the newly opened sky. And as the trees eventually decay, nutrients will be returned to the soil.
  • These upturned root balls will linger for many years as mysterious humps and depressions in the woods.
  • The benchs are back out on the trails, and the one at the "Appendix", as I like to call the area around Trail Marker 10, is a nice one for a view of the Creek and contemplation of the sights along the walk.
  • Next week: the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
Hepatica

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Turkey Vulture
  • 2 Red-shouldered Hawk
  • 2 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 2 Mourning Dove
  • 2 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  • 2 Northern Flicker
  • 6 Eastern Phoebe
  • 4 American Crow
  • 2 Tree Swallow
  • 2 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Winter Wren
  • 2 Eastern Bluebird
  • 2 European Starling
  • 2 Pine Warbler
  • 2 Chipping Sparrow
  • 2 Field Sparrow
  • 2 Red-winged Blackbird
  • 2 Common Grackle
  • 2 Brown-headed Cowbird
  • 2 American Goldfinch
Plants
  • 1 Coltsfoot
  • 1 Dutchman's-breeches
  • 1 Japanese cornelina cherry
  • 1 Sharp-lobed hepatica
  • 1 Skunk cabbage

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 44°F, clear and breezy at 1:30 PM on October 26, 2016.
  • This week's trail report covers the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
  • Recent rains dropped a lot of the leaves, but it's still nice out.
  • Note: Monday Oct. 31 is the last day the grounds will be open this season. They open again April 1.

The Trails

  • The oaks at the Gifford trail head had lost a lot of color since last week.
  • Across the front Old Hayfield, the trees were bare and the goldenrods brown.
  • The boardwalk along the Sedge Meadow is always a reference point through the seasons.
  • In the Sedge Meadow itself, cinnamon fern had all but disappeared.
  • Multiflora rose hips were still providing color.
  • And back lit goldenrods provided texture.
  • Color lingered in a couple oaks in the back Old Hayfield.
  • In the back, several tall, bare trees struck me as stately.
  • From the entrance to the Old Pasture, the bench was just visible ahead.
  • This would be a good day to move it out of the shade and into the sun.
  • The view from the bluff over the Wappinger Creek is always a favorite.
  • Fallen oak leaves made the descent to the creek slippery.
  • As if a safe arrival weren't enough, a little oak still red was like a prize at the bottom.
  • A sycamore leaf sailed in and out of the sun on its way downstream.
  • I almost forgot to check the fungus tree.
  • Yup, it was still going strong.
  • Looking back two weeks ago, we see something just a littler fresher.
  • On the other side of the path was that other one.
  • Again, showing a little wear and tear since two weeks ago.
  • At the "Appendix", (Trail Marker 10) it was early enough to catch the little beech all lit up.
  • Zooming in on movement in the snag below revealed reflections off the water.
  • Next Trail Report will be in April...
Eastern Sycamore Leaf

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Belted Kingfisher
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 2 Blue Jay
  • 4 American Crow
  • 3 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 3 European Starling

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