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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 60°F, cloudy and windy at 1:45 PM on September 28, 2016.
  • This week's trail report covers the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
  • A few trees were actually all in fall foliage, but mostly color was just beginning in patches.
  • This cool, cloudy, windy day offered few butterflies.

The Trails

  • Even the goldenrods were finishing blooming in the front Old Hayfield by Gifford House.
  • Without the distraction of all that color, other features become more obvious - e.g., the goldenrod bunch gall, caused by the larva of a midge.
  • The larva's secretions halt stem growth, but the leaves keep coming forming shelter for the larva.
  • Color was creeping into the Sedge Meadow, touching the cinnamon fern and some shrubs farther in.
  • In the back Old Hayfield, poison ivy was turning every color between yellow and red.
  • A hickory tussock moth caterpillar was stretched out along a goldenrod leaf.
  • In the back corner, one tree was looking fully decked out in orange.
  • Along the edge, Japanese barberry leaves were catching up with its fruit in color.
  • A surprise in the Old Pasture was two trees side by side in full color.
  • This early, color was in a few leaves at a time...
  • ..or in striking individuals, like this Virginia creeper.
  • Rose hips provided an alternative source of color towards the back.
  • On the other side of the trail, winterberry - usually growing in moist areas - was joining in.
  • Finally wreath goldenrod on the Wappinger Creek Trail!
  • There's been plenty of zigzag goldenrod. Compare the narrow, finely toothed leaves of the former to the oval, sharply toothed leaves of the latter of these two woodland dwellers.
  • Next week: the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar


  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Belted Kingfisher
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Hairy Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 7 Blue Jay
  • 7 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 Gray Catbird
  • 10 Cedar Waxwing
  • 2 Common Yellowthroat
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 4 Chipping Sparrow
  • 1 White-throated Sparrow
  • 1 Clouded Sulphur
  • 1 Orange Sulphur

<li>1 Hickory tussock moth</li>

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 75°F, cloudy and breezy at 2:00 PM on September 21, 2016.
  • This week's trail report covers the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
  • A little bit of color was starting to show up in some leaves.
  • Berries and seeds were becoming more obvious.

The Trails

  • A puff of white off the side by the Carriage House made me nervous.
  • Happily, it was not the return of black swallowwort, but a native milkweed, butterfly weed, going to seed.
  • At the head of the Scots Pine Alleé, an eastern phoebe was perched low to hawk insects flying above the lawn.
  • A house finch was also going between the ground and a low perch that was provided by fencing.
  • A little farther along, there was motion, then nothing - a little eastern tailed-blue was working the remaining wild basil flowers.
  • In spite of their metallic blue, they can really blend in with their surroundings.
  • Another appeared and the two would fly up in challenge. I tried for a better position before their return and did eventually get photo from below.
  • In the middle of the path along the Little Bluestem Meadow was a dogwood sawfly larva.
  • The blade of grass conveniently flipped over exposing the 6 abdominal prolegs that help distinguish sawfly larvae from true caterpillars, which have no more than 5.
  • The view back across the field of rusty looking little bluestem reminded me of my childhood haunts.
  • In the Old Gravel Pit, another white puff on a log caught my attention.
  • This one was mushrooms - we did have a little rain recently.
  • Something flew into the browning hay-scented fern on the other side of the Old Gravel Pit's low point.
  • The flattened legs suggested it was one of the leaf-footed bugs, to which the familiar squash bug belongs.
  • As the trail opens above the Fern Glen, invasive burning bush was starting to show the colors that made it a popular ornamental.
  • Farther along the road was a little patch of native pearly everlasting.
  • Along the pond near the kiosk, that crazy groundnut vine's maroon, pea-like blossoms had finished and it was forming pods.
  • Along the boardwalk through the fen, another milkweed, swamp milkweed, was releasing its flying seeds.
  • Around the bend, winterberry, a holly, had ripe berries. Birds use the berries as a last resort so they persist through the winter making this native shrub a functional as well as aesthetic landscaping alternative to exotic plants with questionable behavior.
  • On the way out of the 'Glen, I realized I'd been seeing leaves on the ground. It shouldn't be a surprise late in September...
  • Next week: surprises on the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
A Leaf-footed bug


  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 3 Blue Jay
  • 6 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Brown Creeper
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 Gray Catbird
  • 10 Field Sparrow
  • 1 House Finch
  • 1 American Goldfinch
  • 11 Cabbage White
  • 18 Clouded Sulphur
  • 7 Orange Sulphur
  • 2 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 1 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 1 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Pearly everlasting


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