On the Trails of
The Cary Institute

Trail Report for August 29, 2012

Notes and changes since last report:


The Trails

This week...

  • There were a few yellow-collared scape moths in the front Old Hayfield this afternoon.
  • The Sedge Meadow Trail was the hot spot today with tricky warblers above, Carolina wrens around me, and common white-tail almost landing on me.
  • A katydid landed in front of me, too.
  • In the back Old Hayfield, five wild turkeys kept just ahead of me the whole way along the path.
  • Meadow fritillaries were to be seen several times today. I don't remember them this common or late in the season. I must check the records...
  • Goldenrods support so many different insects. I used the zoom lens to great advantage in examining one large, unusual wasp in particular.
  • A snowberry clearwing actually landed for a while to take in some sun.
  • The bench in the Old Pasture looked inviting today.
  • In the Norway Spruce Glade above the Fern Glen, I checked the tips of the shrubs for Zabulon skippers.
  • Yup, on the left side; let's zoom in.
  • The mud at the edge of the Fern Glen pond had four cabbage whites lapping up minerals.
  • Deep in the shrub swamp section, a veery and I startled each other; it lingered a while.
  • Near the deck, a pair of mushrooms looked very chummy.
  • If it hadn't been for them I would have missed the coral fungus.
  • White turtle-head was blooming in a couple quiet corners.
  • The blossom is thought to resemble a turtle's head. Squeeze the cheeks and the mouth opens!
  • One little cardinal flower was still blooming.
  • Heading back through the Old Gravel Pit, I came upon a pair of cabbage whites courting.
  • Milkweed along the edge of the Little Bluestem Meadow had several caterpillars including monarch and milkweed tussock moth.
  • Bluebirds at the end of the Scotch Pine Alleé were a nice finish for the walk today.

Last week...

  • ... was partly cloudy, 82° and calm at 1:00 PM on August 23.
  • I started at the Fern Glen pond today where one of the spreadwings damselflies posed for me.
  • In the Norway Spruce Glade along the road above the Glen, was a large Argiope or garden spider with an equally large cicada in its web.
  • There were a lot of chewed remains of mushrooms along the trails. But on the Cary Pines trail, I came upon one untouched. I liked the moss too.
  • I lingered at the foot bridge over the little creek feeding the Wappinger creek. The butterfly I'd glimpsed didn't return but right at my feet was an interesting opposite-leaved plant
  • On closer inspection, I took it to be one of the skullcaps.
  • Little bluestem grass was reddening in the Old Pasture.
  • We don't often think of grasses as flowering plants, however...
  • I always marvel at how easily the bright American copper can disappear on a grassy path.
  • And on the way out of the Old Pasture, another perfect mushroom... with a nice view of sheep laurel, which seemed attractive to the copper.
  • The back Old Hayfield had been mowed around its edge: a prelude for what is to come... But we must mow to keep our fields fields. And adjacent fields are mowed on alternate years to provide refuge.
  • A pair of interesting flies allowed a photo.
  • The boardwalk across the end of the Sedge Meadow afforded an excellent view of rough-leaved goldenrod, easily recognized by the large lower leaves and habitat.
  • A large pokeweed was flourishing behind the Carriage House.
  • The birds love the berries when they ripen to dark purple.
  • We've seen a lot of goldenrods lately; what we haven't seen is ragweed with its tiny inconspicuous flowers - the actual cause of so much sinus discomfort.
  • I've been avoiding thinking about it, but the view across the Little Bluestem Meadow was indicating the End Of Summer.
  • Silver-rod - our only white goldenrod - on the Scotch Pine Alleé was indicating the end of the trails for me today.

Birds

  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • 1 Pileated Woodpecker
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe
  • 1 Red-eyed Vireo
  • 2 Blue Jay
  • 3 American Crow
  • 4 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 Tufted Titmouse
  • 5 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Carolina Wren
  • 2 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 Veery
  • 1 Gray Catbird
  • 2 Cedar Waxwing
  • 1 Black-and-white Warbler
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 4 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Northern Cardinal
  • 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • 4 American Goldfinch

Butterflies

  • 1 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 22 Cabbage White
  • 5 Clouded Sulphur
  • 8 Orange Sulphur
  • 2 American Copper
  • 1 Spring Azure
  • 6 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 3 Meadow Fritillary
  • 8 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Red Admiral
  • 3 Monarch
  • 2 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 2 Zabulon Skipper

Moths

  • 1 Snowberry Clearwing
  • 6 Yellow-collared scape moth

Plants

  • 1 Turtlehead

On the Trails of
The Cary Institute

Trail Report for August 15, 2012

Notes and changes since last report:


The Trails

This week...

  • Right at the edge of the Gifford House parking lot was a hickory tussock moth caterpillar. Handsome and common every year.
  • The goldenrods that were starting in the front Old Hayfield last week were cranking up this week.
  • A pair of American goldfinch was in the spotted knapweed and allowed me to get fairly close.
  • Dark clumps of goldenrod leaves dotted the field. We're used to galls being extra plant growth promoted by a larva within. Here the goldenrod midge inhibits stem growth between the leaves, which continue to form normally but bunched together to form a nursery.
  • As I was leaving this field, something too large and fast caught my eye. A common buckeye! They were indeed common last year and I'd hoped to see a few this year. Til now there'd only been a report of one on the grounds a couple weeks ago.
  • While chasing that for a photo, I was interrupted by two skippers arguing. I'd noted the Peck's before, but the new comer had a bit more yellow than the zabulon I first took it for... it was a fiery skipper, male. This is a southern species that has been reported in the area for a couple years now. This was a new one for my list at Cary.
  • After chasing that for a while I continued on to the Sedge Meadow Trail where a lacewing posed very obligingly. I'd just noticed its stalk mounted eggs when it came into view. Its larva resembles that of the ladybug - a little alligator famous for eating aphids.
  • Behind the Sedge Meadow, a male zabulon skipper perched in a patch of sun right in front of me. I couldn't refuse. And now we can go back and compare the fiery skipper...
  • White snakeroot was beginning to bloom. This "enthusiastic" native doesn't seem quite as dense as usual this year.
  • In the Old Pasture, gray dogwood berries were ripening. I remember these fondly (now...) as ammunition at the school bus stop.
  • Along the Wappinger Creek Trail, another tussock moth caterpillar stood out against the truck of a tree: the definite tussock moth. The female moth is wingless. The young caterpillars, like some spiders, sail away on a strand of silk.
  • Fungi were popping up in small numbers in many places.
  • A pair of carolina wrens challenged me as I went through the flood plain.
  • At the Fern Glen pond, ostrich fern gave a tropical look.
  • I zoomed in on the painted turtle and bull frog on the mat of hornwort.
  • Along the edge of the pond, elderberry was ripening.
  • And bottle gentian was blooming - yes, that's it.
  • Also present was Virginia knotweed or jumpseed - referring to the vigorous departure of the little seeds when brushed against.
  • Sneezeweed was now in full bloom at the back of the pond. At first I didn't recognize a red cultivated variety in a friend's garden until its elegant name, Helenium, started to ring a bell.
  • Then I became aware that all around it spicebush berries were beginning to turn.
  • And in the middle of all of them I noticed our almost forgotten wahoo - a native Euonymous.
  • "Why are those leaves stuck together?" I wondered, "There on the left..." A silver-spotted skipper caterpillar was in there!
  • All the way at the back of the pond were more red berries - Jack-in-the-pulpit. And with one of the stink bug nymphs that we have been seeing in such numbers this year.
  • On the other side of the pond, great lobelia was lining the path...
  • ...the path out and back home.

Last week...

  • ... was mostly cloudy and 83° with a light breeze at 1:30 PM on August 8.
  • My first discovery of the day was that I'd left everything home: camera, binoculars, checklist, hat, water... I hate when I do that.
  • With borrowed bins and a piece of scrap paper, I was off.
  • The birds seemed especially quiet today, except, as usual, for goldfinch, which were heard on virtually every trail.
  • The butterflies seemed to be out in normal numbers.
  • That mossy dead tree on the Cary Pines Trail near the Fern Glen was lacking almost all of the fungi from last week - quite the opposite of what I'd expected...
  • In the Glen, long legs with white joints were momentarily highlighted against a black background as a mysterious insect floated through a patch of sun. Maybe a cranefly, maybe not... I've seen it over the years, but never often, never well...
  • I was surprised by a large dark "lep" (-idopteran) flying on the Cary Pines Trail. It was too large to write off as a gypsy moth, and when it abruptly clamped onto the trunk of a tree, I knew it was a northern pearly-eye. It showed little wear and tear for so late in the season.
  • Deer flies and "ear flies" - those non-biting, but annoying things that fly in and around one's ears - were not so surprising nor welcome. I constantly flicked a switch about my head and had the occasional satisfaction of hearing it make a direct hit.
  • On the Wappinger Creek Trail, I tried to adjust my attitude to one of scientific excitement as I observed how dense and tall the Japanese stilt grass was in this 2nd season since its appearance here. I am observing first hand an invasive plant just as it enters an area! For the record, as last year, it reaches from the foot bridge at the end of the flood plain upstream to the stone wall crossing the path. But it's much taller and thicker.
  • Farther up the trail, I was observed by another northern pearly-eye as I entered its area. Again, it showed little wear and tear.
  • The Sedge Meadow Trail - always a favorite - did not disappoint: a moderatly tattered Appalachian brown came out to investigate me.
  • Some time was spent around the two Old Hayfields where big spicebush swallowtails and a number of zabulon skippers were among the notable.
  • The female zabulon looks nothing like the male - black as opposed to orange. Very handsome. I must get a good photo...
  • ... maybe next time.

Birds

  • 2 Eastern Phoebe
  • 3 Blue Jay
  • 3 American Crow
  • 4 Tree Swallow
  • 13 Black-capped Chickadee
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 Carolina Wren
  • 5 American Robin
  • 6 Gray Catbird
  • 4 Cedar Waxwing
  • 2 Eastern Towhee
  • 6 Field Sparrow
  • 1 Red-winged Blackbird
  • 9 American Goldfinch

Butterflies

  • 1 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • 4 Spicebush Swallowtail
  • 45 Cabbage White
  • 4 Clouded Sulphur
  • 2 Orange Sulphur
  • 10 Great Spangled Fritillary
  • 6 Pearl Crescent
  • 1 Painted Lady
  • 1 Common Buckeye
  • 1 Red-spotted Purple
  • 1 Viceroy
  • 1 Common Ringlet
  • 11 Common Wood-Nymph
  • 7 Monarch
  • 32 Silver-spotted Skipper
  • 4 Least Skipper
  • 1 Fiery Skipper
  • 4 Peck's Skipper
  • 1 Tawny-edged Skipper
  • 4 Zabulon Skipper
  • 1 Dun Skipper

Moths

  • 1 Hummingbird Clearwing
  • 1 Snowberry Clearwing
  • 1 Yellow-collared scape moth

Plants

  • 1 Bottle gentian
  • 1 Great lobelia
  • 1 Jumpseed
  • 1 White snakeroot

Previous Trail Reports are available from a separate page.


© 2012 Barry Haydasz