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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 80°F, partly cloudy and calm at 1:30 PM on August 28, 2013.
  • Fruits were ripening.
  • Mosquitoes continued their decline with only a few thick spots.
  • A promethea moth was in the road on the way home. Does that count?

The Trails

  • Lifeless, in the vast expanse of the hot Gifford House parking lot was a galium sphinx caterpillar.
  • At the edge of a dried puddle behind the Carriage House was a lively group of 10 pearl crescents.
  • The sky from the Scotch Pine Alleé was dramatic this afternoon.
  • The nannyberry along the edge of the Little Bluestem Meadow that faked me out in May was now bearing fruit.
  • Right at its base, those of Japanese barberry were ripening.
  • Behind me was a view across the goldenrods of Gifford House.
  • Ahead was the bare oak against that sky.
  • And then it was into the Old Gravel Pit - mosquito haven... I was keeping ahead of them until something rose from the side of the path. A fresh red admiral.
  • There were a number in the Fern Glen pestering me as I examined newly opened groundnut.
  • I was careful about shooing them away as I observed how the saddleback caterpillars had gotten bigger.
  • Mixed in with the poison sumac and highbush blueberry was ripening bittersweet nightshade.
  • On the way out was a perfect maple-leaved viburnum with fruit.
  • Out on the Cary Pines Trail just before joining the Wappinger Creek Trail were some fine fungal fruiting bodies, otherwise known as mushrooms.
  • At the footbridge below the Appendix (Trail Marker 10 area) was a plant that I'd been avoiding. It looked like a nettle but wasn't either of the two I knew.
  • OK, leaves opposite and well toothed. Flowers dense and undistinguished in the leaf axils... False nettle said the book!
  • Something else kind of prickley looking flew by towards the upstream end of the Wappinger Creek Trail. Some kind of crane fly I would guess, judging by the legs .
  • Gray dogwood berries were no mystery in the Old Pasture. Dark clouds started calling, and a welcome cool wind picked up; I moved on.
  • From the back Old Hayfield, the clouds looked impressive, but benign.
  • A little gray ball hiding amongst the monarda caught my eye and provoked curiosity. Then the spider web in the neighboring hollow explained all.
  • A big gray ball had been getting bigger. I kept curiosity at a distance and made sure not to provoke the lone guard on duty.
  • My duty was done; I went home.
  • OK, it wasn't on the Trails, but it COULD have been... a male promethea moth. I don't see these often at all.
Galium sphinx caterpillar
Pearl crescents "mud puddling"
View from the Scotch Pine Alleé
Nannyberry
Nannyberry
Groundnut
Saddleback caterpillars
Poison sumac
Maple-leaved viburnum
Mushrooms
False nettle
False nettle
False nettle
Crane fly?
Gray dogwood berries
Male promethea moth

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Wild Turkey
  • 2 Black Vulture
  • 2 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • 2 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 4 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 3 Blue Jay
  • 1 American Crow
  • 9 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Carolina Wren
  • 1 House Wren
  • 1 American Robin
  • 4 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Black-throated Green Warbler
  • 1 Common Yellowthroat
  • 2 Northern Cardinal
  • 1 House Finch
  • 5 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 3 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 1 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 26 Cabbage White
  • 19 Clouded Sulphur
  • 4 Orange Sulphur
  • 1 American Copper
  • 2 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 7 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 1 Meadow Fritillary
  • 17 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Red Admiral
  • 1 Common Ringlet
  • 8 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 8 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 6 Least Skipper
  • 1 Peck's Skipper
  • 8 Zabulon Skipper
Caterpillars
  • 1 Galium sphinx
Plants
  • 1 False nettle
  • 1 Groundnut

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 80°F, partly cloudy and calm at 1:15 PM on August 21, 2013.
  • Goldenrods were beginning to show off in the Old Hayfields.
  • The invasive Japanese stilt grass was becoming large enough to be obvious.
  • Mosquitoes were again largely absent with only a few thick spots.

The Trails

  • The goldenrods front Old Hayfield were actually brighter than this photo shows.
  • A Zabulon skipper was sunning along the Wappinger Creek Trail. They could be found in many places today.
  • Along that low, sandy section Japanese stilt grass was showing itself. Know it by its shiny mid rib. War has been waged on this new pest since its appearance here a year or two ago. Let's see if we put a dent in it last year.
  • At the edge of its reach Indian tobacco was blooming.
  • On the Cary Pines Trail Canada mayflower berries were disappearing as fast as they were ripening.
  • A perfect fern looked as if it were planted on a log.
  • Nearby was a favorite partridgeberry in a hollow root, also looking as if it had been deliberately planted.
  • That "prickley ash" I found a while ago needed closer examination. As I feared, the leaves were toothed - it is more likely Hercules' club. Let's see if the deer allow it to flower.
  • In the Fern Glen a dragonfly kept returning to one perch.
  • Another favorite plant to hate is black swallow-wort. These knots seem to be the result of herbacide taking out the main vine, but not the root; all the side shoots come up like angry hornets.
  • In the Roeller Bed along the road, spikenard berries have been ripening more each week.
  • Along the cobble white baneberry really stood out.
  • Across the pond New York ironweed was attracting a few butterflies including great spangled fritillary and again Zabulon skipper.
  • A least skipper was soaking up the afternoon sun by the base.
  • Sneezeweed was opening up near the bridge at the back of the pond.
  • Closed gentian near the front of the pond never looks much more open than it was today.
  • Whip-like stalks of jumpseed were reaching over the railing. Its tiny flowers would later become spring-loaded seeds.
  • In the shrub swamp witch hazel was sporting green seed pods.
  • What I was looking for was still there: the saddleback caterpillars - a little bigger than they were last week... and armed with even more stinging spines.
  • The Old Gravel Pit was the remaining mosquito strong hold. White snakeroot might have been better photoed in any of the many other places where it was blooming.
  • Right at the woods end of the Scotch Pine Alleé was a spotted apatalode caterpillar, looking a bit like Dennis the Menace's dog, Ruff.
  • With that it looked like time to leave.
Goldenrods in front Old Hayfield
Zabulon skipper
Japanese stilt grass
Indian tobacco
Canada mayflower
Fern in a log
Partridgeberry
Prickley ash?
... or Hercules' club
Dragonfly
Black swallow-wort
Black swallow-wort having survived herbacide
Spikenard
Spikenard berries
White baneberry
Great spangled fritillary on New York ironweed
New York ironweed
Zabulon skipper... again
Least skipper
Sneezeweed
Closed gentian
Jumpseed
Jumpseed
Witch hazel pods
Saddleback caterpillars on spicebush
White snakeroot
Spotted apatalode caterpillar

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Mourning Dove
  • 3 Chimney Swift
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 4 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 3 Blue Jay
  • 17 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Brown Creeper
  • 2 Carolina Wren
  • 3 Wood Thrush
  • 1 American Robin
  • 4 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Prairie Warbler
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 Field Sparrow
  • 3 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 2 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 2 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 41 Cabbage White
  • 23 Clouded Sulphur
  • 13 Orange Sulphur
  • 2 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 11 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 1 Meadow Fritillary
  • 24 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Northern Pearly-eye
  • 1 Appalachian Brown
  • 4 Common Ringlet
  • 18 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 65 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 2 Least Skipper
  • 3 Peck's Skipper
  • 13 Zabulon Skipper
Caterpillars
  • 1 Spotted apatelodes
  • 1 Sneezeweed
  • 1 White snakeroot
Plants
  • 1 Sneezeweed
  • 1 White snakeroot
Moth
  • 1 Yellow-collared scape moth

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