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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 >>

  • 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

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 75°F, partly cloudy and calm with low humidity at 12:45 PM on August 3, 2016.
  • This week's trail report covers the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
  • There had been some needed rain a few days ago - plants and butterflies were happier today.
  • Spicebush swallowtails were out in numbers I've never seen before.

The Trails

  • Last week, the front Old Hayfield at Gifford House's goldenrod had started blooming.
  • Hope was found in the back back corner: a monarch caterpillar - their numbers are reported to have dropped some 80% over 2 decades. Plant milkweed!
  • Tiger swallowtails were well represented today.
  • One Peck's skipper scooted along the path in front of me.
  • On the Sedge Meadow Trail, boneset was beginning to bloom.
  • A little bee was feeding in the crown.
  • In the back Old Hayfield, a tattered common wood-nymph paused to soak up some sun.
  • Spicebush swallowtails were all over the wild bergamot... and each other.
  • We most often see the male, with powdery blue on the hind wing.
  • The female is less often encountered and has a real, honest blue - a metalic blue, though it's a little hard to tell here in the shaddow.
  • The steep descent of the Wappinger Creek Trail had a couple sunny spots; I always slow down and scan them before entering.
  • This one was being staked out by a couple well worn eastern commas, and patrolled by a spicebush swallowtail.
  • Another good spot to look for butterflies is just past the bottom of the slope where there is a view over the embankment.
  • It's not a bad spot for birds either - a mix of red-eyed vireos and tufted titmice had adults and noisy young of each.
  • I'd forgotten about the fungus by the Watersheds kiosk.
  • It was a good size, but it seemed that it should have been bigger... and in a different spot?
  • I meant to keep tabs on the growth, but the last time I looked was May 25.
  • Down in the flood plain, wood nettle had been flowering for a while.
  • But now, the female flowers were beginning to look like they were forming seeds.
  • The male flowers below still looked new.
  • Nearby was the common Indian tobacco.
  • As a lobelia the blossom is pretty, if small.
  • It's a great view from the bench at the Appendix, as I like to call the loop around Trail Markers 10 and 11.
  • Those sandy mounds, too big for ant hills, were back.
  • And for once, there was activity... a little head poked out.
  • In a moment, a bee or wasp climbed out...
  • ... shook off...
  • ... and was gone.
  • And then, so was I. Next week: the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
Spicebush swallowtails courting


  • 1 Mourning Dove
  • 1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • 2 Belted Kingfisher
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 2 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 3 Eastern Kingbird
  • 2 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 2 Blue Jay
  • 2 American Crow
  • 2 Tree Swallow
  • 7 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 4 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • 2 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 Wood Thrush
  • 2 American Robin
  • 5 Gray Catbird
  • 13 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Blue-winged Warbler
  • 1 Louisiana Waterthrush
  • 3 Eastern Towhee
  • 2 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Song Sparrow
  • 2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • 1 Indigo Bunting
  • 8 American Goldfinch
  • 8 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 22 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 42 Cabbage White
  • 6 Clouded Sulphur
  • 1 Orange Sulphur
  • 1 American Copper
  • 3 Eastern Tailed-Blue
  • 15 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 1 Meadow Fritillary
  • 37 Pearl Crescent
  • 2 Eastern Comma
  • 3 Northern Pearly-eye
  • 5 Appalachian Brown
  • 17 Common Ringlet
  • 12 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 1 Monarch
  • 8 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Peck's Skipper
  • 1 Northern Broken-Dash
  • 1 Mulberry Wing
  • 8 Dun Skipper
  • 1 Monarch
  • 17 Hummingbird Clearwing
  • 2 Snowberry Clearwing


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