Friday, September 18, 2015


On our property we have an old, small gravel pit, which I've written about here many times before. It usually has a good-sized, murky pond in the bottom, where I've seen two otters, a snapping turtle as big as a trash can lid, and fox tracks.

It's a good place to listen to frogs, watch painted turtles sun, and catch dragonflies.

A kingfisher nested in a sand bank last year.

I once watched a bobcat as big as a German shepherd walk down the road into it.

During the winter, the pond make a modest ice-skating rink. 

Last year, the pond served as my study site for the Master Naturals class; I came down here once a week or so to observe seasonal changes.

But this summer the biggest change of all has taken place--the pond has almost completely dried up.

It's been years since this has happened, and it's such a strange sight to see--grass growing where usually there is water.

The drop in water level has revealed the past use of this property by the farmers who once lived down the road.

A few frogs still make their home along the edges of the remaining water, and various mammal tracks crisscross the mud, but I wonder where all the turtles have gone.

We have had a very strange visitor for the last few weeks: a single pectoral sandpiper (can you see it in the left-hand side of the picture below?) has made its home in the wet mud along the edges of the dwindling water.

It's fascinating to see what is revealed beneath when familiar layers are stripped away.

Edited to add: It's been a dry summer, with many bodies of water well below their high water mark. Once the leaves fall from the trees, the pond will probably start filling up again, and by next spring it should be back to its usual self. But I'll keep you posted.


  1. What an interesting spot. Do you know why the water has dried up? do you think it will come back?

    1. Hi Emma. You're right, I should have said something about that. It's been a fairly dry summer--lots of water bodies are low--which probably explains why our little pond has dried up. I think once the leaves fall from the trees, it will partially fill in, and then by next spring be a full-on pond again. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. It is just like an archaeology dig! How fun! And a turtle as big as a trash can lid! WOW! JL

  3. I do hope it does fill up again, it sounds like an important habitat for many animals and plants.

  4. For some strange reason, your post made me want to re-read "Walden Pond" and "A Sand County's Almanach". These old favoites might have to find their way back to my reading stack for Fall. So much to take in, even in our own backyard. So many search far and wide, never noticing what beauty is right under their noses.


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