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Trail Reports

Insights on trail conditions and the plants and animals you can expect to encounter throughout the seasons.

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Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 80°F, partly cloudy and breezy at 1:00 PM on August 17, 2016.
  • This week's trail report covers the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
  • Yesterday's rains left the dirt roads with damp spots if not puddles: butterfly magnets.
  • The gray hairstreak was officially recorded on a Trail Walk today.
  • The trails were being mown this very day. Very nice.

The Trails

  • After yesterday's rains, the dirt road between Gifford and the Carriage House was attractive to a number of butterflies including clouded sulphur.
  • The eastern tailed-blue can be nearly invisible against the gravel.
  • Hard to miss is the pearl crescent.
  • Goldenrod in the front Old Hayfield had progressed since the last time.
  • Pods of invasive black swallowwort along the side were not yet ripe. Beware if you are trying to control some: even much younger pods will mature off the vine.
  • Golden rod ball galls were easy to spot today.
  • The gray hairstreak was almost dismissed as an eastern tailed-blue, but the greater size was an immediate alert.
  • It's not uncommon as hairstreaks go, but I hadn't seen it at Cary until last week in the Fern Glen. Always something new.
  • Pokeweed berries were getting bigger along the Sedge Meadow Trail.
  • Just up the hill, gray dogwood berries were ripening.
  • A good size cherry branch had ripening fruit.
  • Invasive bush type honeysuckle was full of ripe berries.
  • The Sedge Meadow had a few turtlehead starting to bloom.
  • In the back Old Hayfield, spicebush swallowtails were starting to look a bit worn, but there were several fresh least skippers.
  • As the path leaves the Old Pasture for the view of the Wappinger Creek, a large red mushroom was hard to miss.
  • A little looking around turned up an even bigger brown one.
  • More careful study turned up a small red one and a fused yellow pair.
  • Right in the middle of the path, in its usual place, was red chanterelle.
  • And just across the aisle, in its usual place was plantain-leaved sedge.
  • On the way down the hill was a tall, flat, white mushroom.
  • At the bottom was a perfectly purple one.
  • The base of the big maple at the bend sheltered a pair of classics.
  • Just past the first foot bridge was Indian pipe - not a mushroom, but a saprophyte: a plant without chlorophyll that feeds on decaying organic matter.
  • Farther along where the light was just right, brown trout were lounging in the shade.
  • Next week: the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
Gray Hairstreak


  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 2 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 4 Blue Jay
  • 1 American Crow
  • 4 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 House Wren
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 Veery
  • 2 American Robin
  • 3 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Cedar Waxwing
  • 4 Eastern Towhee
  • 10 Chipping Sparrow
  • 2 Indigo Bunting
  • 8 American Goldfinch
  • 7 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 10 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 34 Cabbage White
  • 14 Clouded Sulphur
  • 2 Gray Hairstreak
  • 2 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 25 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 18 Pearl Crescent
  • 4 Eastern Comma
  • 2 Northern Pearly-eye
  • 10 Common Ringlet
  • 7 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 9 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 2 Least Skipper
  • 1 Peck's Skipper
  • 1 Turtlehead
  • 1 Hummingbird Clearwing
  • It was 85°F, partly cloudy and calm with low humidity at 12:00 PM on August 9, 2016.
  • This week's trail report covers the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
  • A Tuesday walk is unusual, but the Other Job was postponed and tomorrow's forecast was not good.
  • Monday added gray hairstreak to the Cary butterfly species list, but it wasn't seen (in the Fern Glen) today.
  • But there was another new plant to point out.

The Trails

  • A house wren scolded from the far end of the Gifford House parking lot.
  • A late season little glassy-wing was a surprise in the spreading dogbane of the Little Bluestem Meadow.
  • The enthusiastic groundnut by the kiosk was beginning to build flower buds.
  • Farther along the kiosk side of the pond, some of the carrion flower berries were maturing from green to black.
  • Towards the back of the Fern Glen pond, sneezeweed was beginning to bloom.
  • On the other side of the trail, New York iron weed was also starting up.
  • At the back of the pond, the summer-sweet was filling out and now its scent was in the air.
  • At the pond's rocky edge, green-headed coneflower petals were uncurling.
  • Across from the deck, swamp milkweed pods were growing tall.
  • So too was invasive purple loosestrife.
  • Along the walkways, white wood aster was in season.
  • Lurking in plain view by the shrub swamp sign all this time has been a black ash - a tree of wet soils.
  • It was identified in a recent plant survey. Characteristic features include the bark.
  • The bark of the familiar white ash - a tree less specific in habitat - bears no resemblance.
  • The leaflets of the compound leaf are more elongated in the case of the black ash...
  • ...and more oval in the case of the white ash.
  • In a closer look, the black ash leaflets can be seen as finely tooted and attached directly to the main leaf stem...
  • ...while the white ash leaflets are almost smooth edged and attached by a short stem.
  • Around the corner, horse balm seemed to have gone from buds to seeds in a week.
  • I hadn't missed it entirely; there were still blossoms in there.
  • Closer to the boardwalk in the fen, turtlehead buds were getting bigger.
  • Back on firm ground, the purple-flowering raspberry had just a couple fruits - it was a laid back year for these.
  • Next week: the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.


  • 1 Great Crested Flycatcher
  • 2 Blue Jay
  • 6 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Cedar Waxwing
  • 5 American Goldfinch
  • 1 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 11 Cabbage White
  • 22 Clouded Sulphur
  • 6 Orange Sulphur
  • 7 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 15 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Northern Pearly-eye
  • 1 Little Wood-Satyr
  • 3 Common Ringlet
  • 3 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 1 Monarch
  • 3 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Little Glassywing
  • 1 Green-headed coneflower
  • 1 Horse-balm
  • 1 New York ironweed
  • 1 Purple loosestrife
  • 1 Sneezeweed
  • 1 White wood aster
  • 1 Galium Sphinx


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