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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 50°F, mostly cloudy and windy at 12:30 PM on October 24, 2018.
  • The grounds close at the end of October and reopen April 1, conditions permitting...
  • Seeds and berries getting ready for winter were balanced by new buds getting ready for spring.
  • This trail report covers the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.

The Trails

  • There were no butterflies at the puddles on the road to the Carriage House today.
  • The front Old Hayfield was windswept today.
  • Invasive Oriental bittersweet was ripening behind the Carriage House.
  • The berries make the vine popular in wreaths and among birds.
  • A few berries were remaining of pokeweed.
  • On the other side of the drive, magnolia buds were already formed and would wait out the winter.
  • Farther in the back, rhododendron had employed the same tactic.
  • Below, one goldenrod seemed not to have heard about the changing season.
  • There was a break in the clouds over the Little Bluestem Meadow.
  • At the end of the Scots Pine Allée, silverrod was going to seed.
  • By the split in the trail, hay-scented fern was still green.
  • Now some sun was actually shining down on Gifford House across the meadow.
  • In the Old Gravel Pit, the occasional maple was sporting some red.
  • And once in a while the sun would come through, lighting up red and yellow together.
  • The bottom of the Old Gravel Pit was still flooded.
  • In the Fern Glen, Herb-Robert had not given up yet.
  • Again, the sun would light up a few red leaves over the pond.
  • Faded ostrich fern fronds reminded me of bird wings.
  • Crazy witch hazel was blooming, but the scent was absent from the air.
  • Winterberry was back in the shrub swamp. Its berries are a last resort for the birds and will last late into the winter.
  • Poison sumac had lost all its leave.
  • But its white berries were not all gone.
  • On the Cary Pines Trail, one Gypsy moth egg mass looked pale. It was somebody else's cocoon.
  • Farther along, partridgeberry lined both sides of the trail.
  • Next April: the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
Ostrich Fern


  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 3 Downy Woodpecker
  • 5 Blue Jay
  • 1 American Crow
  • 9 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Brown Creeper
  • 1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 1 Hermit Thrush
  • 2 American Robin
  • 3 White-throated Sparrow
  • 6 American Goldfinch
  • It was 57°F, mostly cloudy and windy at 12:45 PM on October 17, 2018.
  • It hadn't rained yesterday, but it did the day before.
  • The creeks were full, the ground was soft, but the mosquitos were absent.
  • This trail report covers the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.

The Trails

  • At the Gifford House Trail Head, common milkweed seed pods were opening to the wind.
  • Perhaps the forecast for afternoon showers was accurate. The sky over the front Old Hayfield had gotten quite dark.
  • In the back of the field, invasive Burningbush brightened things up.
  • Several palm warblers dropped into view. The wind made for tough photos...
  • On the Sedge Meadow Trail Yellow-rumped warblers were eating poison ivy berries under the same conditions...
  • Leaves down on the boardwalk showed little color but did indicate the general wind direction.
  • In the Sedge Meadow itself, cinnamon fern gave a hint of yellow to the landscape.
  • The back Old Hayfield was still sporting green oak foliage.
  • Along the back of that field invasive Japanese barberry competed with the burning bush for providing color.
  • In the Old Pasture, little bluestem was going to seed.
  • The Wappinger Creek was full today.
  • Down by the Watershed kiosk, the fungus on the big stump was just about gone.
  • The little tributary had a lively waterfall above the foot bridge.
  • In the flood-plain section of the trail, the creek was calmer.
  • A non-stinging nettle relative, clearweed, was common.
  • Farther along, definately stinging wood nettle had distributed most of its seeds.
  • Next week: the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
Palm Warbler


  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 2 Cooper's Hawk
  • 3 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 3 Blue Jay
  • 12 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 3 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 1 American Robin
  • 7 Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • 2 Palm Warbler
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 1 Chipping Sparrow
  • 1 Monarch
  • 1 Galium Sphinx


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