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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 >>

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 85°F, partly cloudy and calm with low humidity at 2:30 PM on July 27, 2016.
  • This week's trail report covers the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
  • With the late start, butterfly activity was slowing down.
  • But there was a new plant for me.

The Trails

  • The Little Bluestem Meadow had a few interesting plants, like bee balm, lurking along the edge by the Carriage House.
  • Tucked in a little deeper was American germander.
  • It's individual blossoms were unusual.
  • And behind that was just a little patch of butterfly weed, a species of milkweed, being visited by a pearl crescent.
  • A pecking noise drew my attention upwards in the Scots Pine Alleé: it was a hairy woodpecker.
  • The spreading dogbane at the back of the Little Bluestem Meadow was still going strong.
  • With all the butterflies in there, it would be a fine place to work on IDs... like skippers - this one looks sort of like a northern broken-dash, but then again...
  • In the Old Gravel Pit, a noisey family of white-breasted nuthatch was overhead.
  • At the top of the Fern Glen, hobblebush berries were ripening.
  • Ditto with the elderberry along side the pond.
  • Farther back, New York ironweed was starting to think about flower buds.
  • All the way at the back, summer-sweet was still thinking - it had been seemingly ready to bloom for weeks now.
  • Near the base, goldenseal berries were ripening.
  • In the back of the 'Glen, in the fen, swamp milkweed was still going strong and attracting spicebush swallowtails.
  • The missing hindwing orange spot 3 up from the bottom helps ID this butterfly. It has been having a good year.
  • Right at edge of the boardwalk, boneset was budding up.
  • Tiny tearthumb was blooming too.
  • Not much farther in, that strange pitcher plant had dropped its red petals and was forming its fruit.
  • On the other side stood the innocent looking poison sumac.
  • Its loose berry clusters are one distinction from the other benign species of sumac.
  • The big spikenard was still going strong in the back of the 'Glen.
  • Something was rambling around its big flower clusters.
  • It looked like a stink bug of some sort.
  • Near the deck, one of the yellow lady's slippers was producing a seed pod.
  • At one of the little bridges was an interesting lacy plant. I'll have to watch for the flower to try to figure this one out.
  • Another interesting plant had been on my watch list.
  • The clasping, divided leaves seemed unusual.
  • The umble type flower was not so distinct, but suggested carrot family. I later settled on water parsnip.
  • By the kiosk, there was no mistaking cardinal flower getting ready to bloom.
  • You might want to check next week because...
  • Next week: the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
Spicebush Swallowtail on Swamp Milkweed

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Mourning Dove
  • 1 Barred Owl
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 3 Eastern Kingbird
  • 1 Blue Jay
  • 2 American Crow
  • 2 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 2 American Robin
  • 2 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Ovenbird
  • 1 Common Yellowthroat
  • 1 Scarlet Tanager
  • 3 Eastern Towhee
  • 3 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Song Sparrow
  • 1 Northern Cardinal
  • 1 Indigo Bunting
  • 1 Baltimore Oriole
  • 1 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 2 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 3 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 10 Cabbage White
  • 4 Orange Sulphur
  • 6 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 1 Meadow Fritillary
  • 24 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Question Mark
  • 1 Northern Pearly-eye
  • 1 Little Wood-Satyr
  • 4 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 1 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 3 Northern Broken-Dash
  • 4 Dun Skipper
Plants
  • 1 Tearthumb
  • 1 Water parsnip

Notes and Changes since last report

  • It was 80°F and partly cloudy and breezy with low humidity at 1:45 PM on July 20, 2016.
  • This week's trail report covers the Wappinger Creek Trail side of the trail system.
  • It was a good butterfly day with the back Old Hayfield being the hot spot today.
  • Cicadas had started singing.
  • The major paths were not only mowed, but trimmed on the sides as well... very nice.

The Trails

  • The end of Gifford parking lot had a big patch of crown vetch - a good place to look for wild indigo duskywing, which has actually benefitted from the spread of this invasive as its caterpillars eat it. No luck, but in the adjacent dry, sunny field was an American copper.
  • In the front Old Hayfield at Gifford House, black-eyed Susan had started blooming - maybe last week actually.
  • Along the side, invasive black swallowwort was forming seed pods.
  • It's just past the sign for the Sedge Meadow Trail and is marked for your inspection. It will be removed before the pods mature...
  • The flagging isn't quite as easy to see from the other direction.
  • A single common ringlet showed up today - we are between broods.
  • On the other hand, hummingbird clearwings were numerous. Actually, that looks like a stripe running down from the eye... this could be a problem...
  • Skippers are often a problem, but the mulberry wing has a distinctive pattern and background color, an unusual manor of flight, and an association with wetlands that all together make it a fairly easy ID.
  • The dun skipper is a more typical LBJ (little brown job) in flight and habitat. The male dun, being unmarked solid brown above, is actually easy: most of our other skippers have white dots and/or yellow patches.
  • Ah the monarch - just the glide sets it apart from just about anything else - if you can find one. The N. American population has dropped 70% since the '90s according to the Xerces Society...
  • The Sedge Meadow Trail had been mowed and the overhangs cut back to make for very pleasant walking.
  • Pokeweed was already reaching out into the light.
  • Eastern kingbirds seemed to be everywhere today... and in a hurry to get somewhere else.
  • The back Old Hayfield had even more American coppers.
  • Wild bergamot follows milkweed - in timing and popularity - as a nectar source and was coming into its own... and with it ambush bugs and spiders.
  • The spider was onto me and we played hide and seek for a while.
  • It's always tempting to take down dead stalks in the garden, but they serve the purpose of being perches for things like dragonflies and, here, the wild indigo duskywing.
  • Cool, but sunny days are great for observing skippers because they tend to alternate feeding with the wings closed, and basking with the wings open, so displaying all surfaces for ID purposes. Like this female crossline skipper, I think...
  • Back tracking on the Sedge Meadow Trail, I came face to proboscis with an Appalachian brown.
  • There were a number in the Sedge Meadow itself. I once spent an afternoon trying to see if the similar eyed brown or northern pearly-eye was out there. Nope, so that keeps it simple!
  • Next week: the Cary Pines Trail side of the trail system.
American coppers on black-eyed Susan

Sightings

Birds
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Mourning Dove
  • 1 Barred Owl
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 2 Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • 3 Eastern Kingbird
  • 1 Blue Jay
  • 2 American Crow
  • 2 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 1 Tufted Titmouse
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 2 American Robin
  • 2 Gray Catbird
  • 1 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Ovenbird
  • 1 Common Yellowthroat
  • 1 Scarlet Tanager
  • 3 Eastern Towhee
  • 3 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Song Sparrow
  • 1 Northern Cardinal
  • 1 Indigo Bunting
  • 1 Baltimore Oriole
  • 1 American Goldfinch
Butterflies
  • 2 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 3 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 9 Cabbage White
  • 2 Clouded Sulphur
  • 2 Orange Sulphur
  • 2 American Copper
  • 14 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 33 Pearl Crescent
  • 3 Eastern Comma
  • 1 Red Admiral
  • 3 Northern Pearly-eye
  • 5 Appalachian Brown
  • 5 Little Wood-Satyr
  • 2 Common Ringlet
  • 21 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 1 Monarch
  • 16 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 1 Wild Indigo Duskywing
  • 1 European Skipper
  • 1 Crossline Skipper
  • 14 Northern Broken-Dash
  • 1 Little Glassywing
  • 7 Mulberry Wing
  • 33 Dun Skipper
Plants
  • 1 Black-eyed Susan
Moth
  • 14 Hummingbird Clearwing
  • 3 Snowberry Clearwing

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