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April 20, 2021

Soldier Beetle

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 68°F, partly cloudy and windy at 1:00 PM on April 20, 2021.
  • This week's trail report covers the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
  • Things were slowing down: only half a dozen new flowers since last week.
  • As for butterflies, there were only a couple cabbage whites in spite of the mild temps today.

The Trails

  • Off the edge of the Gifford House parking lot stands a tall tree that always appears to have a bird on top.
  • Today it actually did: a tree swallow.
  • At the trailhead, clumps of grass were almost tall enough to mow.
  • Mixed in the lawn was a little colony of chionodoxa, a little imported lily family member.
  • Over two weeks, the honeysuckle leaves had expanded and been joined by flower buds.
  • Strange buds were errupting from the strange stems of burning bush.
  • Another invasive, privet, had suddenly started leafing out, too.
  • I have to relearn every year: the large, sharply toothed leaves with drawn, pointy tips belong to nannyberry; it will flower soon. We will look for the smaller, blunter leaves of black haw next week.
  • A soldier beetle, related to lightning bugs, drifted by and landed on a multiflora rose stalk. This one seemed to have a dusting of yellow pollen.
  • Overhead, the screech of a red-tailed hawk drew my attention.
  • A northern flicker flew into the same tree but higher up.
  • Down below, a mole road led to a mole hill.
  • On the Sedge Meadow Trail, violets were blooming. I enjoy finding surprise insects in the "darkroom"
  • A wave of sunshine blew across the Sedge Meadow.
  • It set the tussock sedge flowers aglow.
  • The sun would come and go all afternoon, but the sugar maples were definitely out in the back Old Hayfield.
  • Long, drooping yellow-green flowers contrast with the tight, red ones of the earlier red maple.
  • A mayfly landed on my arm and accompanied me for a while.
  • In the back of the field, Japanese barberry was filling out.
  • Additionally, flower buds had formed and were swelling.
  • All the way around on the Wappinger Creek Trail, wood anemone was blooming.
  • Briefly flowering bloodroot had already been out a while, but with the cool weather, was still hanging on.
  • Trout lily was continuing to make a great show of flowers this year, too.
  • Two stem leaves, each with three leaflets should be toothwort.
  • Some books mention the smooth upper stem.
  • Compare these hairy stems...
  • ... and with sets of three stem leaves - that should be cut-leaved toothwort. But just a few leaflets suggest even narrow, let alone cut. Those in the Fern Glen (see last week) leave no doubt. I guess this feature is "variable", though the books don't seem to mention it.
  • There should be little doubt about the identity of stinging nettle, even - nay, especially - when young.
  • Next week: the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.


  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 2 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  • 1 Northern Flicker
  • 1 Tree Swallow
  • 1 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Brown Creeper
  • 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • 2 Eastern Bluebird
  • 2 American Robin
  • 2 European Starling
  • 1 Louisiana Waterthrush
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 Field Sparrow
  • 2 Red-winged Blackbird
  • 2 Cabbage White
  • 1 Mayfly
  • 1 Soldier beetle
  • 1 Chionodoxa
  • 1 Sugar maple
  • 1 Tussock sedge
  • 1 Violet
  • 1 Wood anemone