trail map

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 55°F and partly cloudy with light breezes at 3:00 PM on April 2, 2014.
  • With this past winter's extensive snow and ice lingering on the trails, opening of the grounds has been delayed from April 1 until this coming Saturday, April 5.
  • This is the first report of this long awaited season.
  • What better way to start than with a butterfly - a mourning cloak?

The Trails

  • Snow banks were still lingering at the edge of Gifford House parking lot.
  • A slight fuzziness in the branches behind the Carriage House raised my hopes.
  • Yes, there was life stirring in the magnolia blossoms!
  • I promised myself I would look up their condition at this time in 2012 - that ridiculously early spring. There was no mention... the blossoms had already peaked the week before.
  • Though winter was long with a lot of snow, there was not much damage along the trails. A few old dead trees were leaning a little more than last season.
  • Shady spots in the woods still held on to patches of snow and ice.
  • The bottom of the Old Gravel Pit had only a few inches of water.
  • The Fern Glen pond was active with backswimmers and water striders on the surface.
  • At the back of the pond, marsh marigold was just unfurling its leaves.
  • Skunk cabbage nearby was flowering and pushing up its leaf rolls.
  • Motion on the opposite shore caught my eye: a mourning cloak coming in to bask! That made Spring official in my book.
  • The newt I'd seen was not to be found again, but there was a fat pollywog lazing in the sun.
  • And at the usual spot near shore, the usual painted turtle was ignoring the usual guy with the camera.
  • At the Acid Rain kiosk, a pretty large branch was down. Actually, it was more like half the tree. This was the most dramatic winter damage on the trails.
  • From there straight to the Wappinger Creek is the area I like to call the "Appendix". Trail marker 10 should remove any doubt. Half a dozen mallards were preening there today.
  • A little farther upstream, a pair of common mergansers almost slipped by unnoticed.
  • The low, late day sun added a little something to my favorite view from the bluff above the creek.
  • Two weeks ago, the hill at the Sedge Meadow Trail boardwalk was still under half a foot of snow.
  • The sound of red-winged blackbirds was all around, but when I zoomed in on tree full of them, they turned out to be brown-headed cowbirds.
  • Some birds are known to be more difficult to locate by their call than others, but ventriloquism?
Snow banks
Magnolia
Magnolia buds
Old dead cedar
Ice in the shade
Bottom of the Old Gravel Pit
Backswimmer
Water strider
Marsh marigold
Skunk cabbage
Mourning cloak
Pollywog
Painted turtle
Big fallen branch
Mallards
Common mergansers
View from the bluff over Wappinger Creek
Sedge Meadow Trail boardwalk
Brown-headed cowbirds

Sightings

Birds
  • 2 Wood Duck
  • 6 Mallard
  • 2 Common Merganser
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 7 Eastern Phoebe
  • 1 American Crow
  • 20 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 3 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 3 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 4 American Robin
  • 1 Song Sparrow
  • 3 Dark-eyed Junco
  • 2 Northern Cardinal
  • 10 Red-winged Blackbird
  • 50 Brown-headed Cowbird
  • 2 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 1 Mourning Cloak

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 56°F and partly cloudy with light breezes at 1:30 PM on October 23, 2013.
  • Next week, November 1, the grounds close for the season until April 1.
  • This will be the last report of this season.
  • The birding hot spot today was once again the Sedge Meadow Trail.

The Trails

  • It was a beautiful late fall day as I passed by the front Old Hayfield on the way to the Scotch Pine Alleé.
  • It had been dark and overcast early this morning, and would cycle between the two states throughout the day.
  • While admiring the sun lit Little Bluestem Meadow, I was amazed to find a couple clouded sulpurs still flying in the 50 something degree air.
  • It got dark on the way through the Old Gravel Pit. No mosquitos there today...
  • At the top of the Fern Glen, hobblebush buds were ready for winter.
  • Aphids on the buds were a surprise; I looked for more under the leaves.
  • There again a surprise: what appeared to be a winged male mating with a wingless female. I thought only the winged sexes mated and that the wingless were all females that reproduced parthenogentically, i.e., without mating, and viviparously, i.e., not laying eggs but bearing live young. Aphids are interesting and I've got more to learn...
  • Along the Cary Pines Trail, a flurry of chickadees, kinglets (golden-crowned) and creepers (brown) was a challenge to sort out by ear.
  • The Sedge Meadow Trail was again full of robins, yellow-rumped warblers and white-throated sparrows. A couple guest appearances included a pair of female purple finch.
  • Another surprise: how many times had I walked - or stood - by this spot without being um, alerted?
  • That was right about head high. The mowers were certainly low enough, but still the commotion when they went by...
  • It was only by warming the dying battery in my pocket that I could get that last shot. But it was just about the end of the trail, the end of the day, the end of the season.
  • Until the spring...
Front Old Hayfield
Little Bluestem Meadow
Hobblebush
Aphids on hobblebush
Aphids mating on hobblebush
Hornet nest on the Sedge Meadow Trail
Hornet nest on the Sedge Meadow Trail

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Belted Kingfisher
  • 2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 2 Downy Woodpecker
  • 2 Northern Flicker
  • 5 Blue Jay
  • 19 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 Tufted Titmouse
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Brown Creeper
  • 4 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 24 American Robin
  • 13 Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • 6 White-throated Sparrow
  • 2 Northern Cardinal
  • 2 Purple Finch
  • 3 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 1 Clouded Sulphur

Pages

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

Privacy Policy Copyright © 2014