Once this pond was a quarry known as the Ore Banks. In the mid-1800’s limonite, a type of iron ore, was mined here. When the miners dug into the water table, the pit gradually flooded, transforming the quarry into a pond. Several springs empty into the pond, and most of the year it overflows into the Yellow Branch. In summer the pond water is used to irrigate the polo fields.
The quarry pond provides excellent wildlife habitat. From the quarry overlook ahead, you may spot Canada geese that reside here each summer, as well as mallards, hooded merganser and wood ducks. A nesting platform was built in the pond for the geese, and a wood duck box was installed to simulate a natural nesting cavity.
Painted turtles often bask in the sun on floating logs or along the shoreline. These 4-6 inch turtles have a smooth, flat carapace (upper shell) marbled with red along the edge. They have two yellow spots behind each eye, along with red and yellow marks on their legs and tail.
Another pond occupant is the snapping turtle, whose carapace and large, powerful head may be visible at the water’s surface. Snapping turtles are bigger (8”-14” long) and have a dark brown, ridged carapace that is saw-toothed along the rear margin. The tail is long, with dinosaur-like triangular plates along the top.
You may also notice large tadpoles wallowing in the shadows. These are bullfrog tadpoles, which take two years to develop from egg to adults.
View a map of the Nature Walk