Special Habitat Areas
Because of the nature of the vegetation and the ecosystem processes that occur in them, ponds require a great deal of sunlight. Since most of the Preserve is forested, the number of sites that meet the requirements for a pond are few. Fortunately, Mother Nature cleared an ideal spot for a new pond in 1983, when a tornado ripped through the part of the property that contained the Woods Edge Walk. After the storm removed most of the tree cover, it was managed as an open meadow. After looking at all of our options, it became obvious that the Woods Edge Walk location was the ideal spot for a pond.
We soon began working with hydro geologists and engineers at Princeton Hydro, along with designers at Paul W. Steinbeiser, to create an aesthetically pleasing pond that met our educational goals while respecting the integrity of the site. The stonework used for the surrounding patio and the pond springhouse is local stone—homages to both the area’s geology and the Revolutionary War-era buildings that still stand nearby. Whenever rainfall is not sufficient, water is delivered to the pump by an on-site well. The water is also repeatedly recycled by a series of underground pumps through both the pond and filters in the springhouse, which filter out unwanted bacteria, nitrates and phosphates—helping prevent algae from coating the pond.
Since its completion in January 2013, the pond has become a thriving example of a freshwater pond. The native plants in and around the pond include:
In the Pond:
American lotus (Nelumbo lutea)
Pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata)
Spatterdock (Nuphar lutea)
White water lily (Nymphaea sp.)
Short-toothed mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum)
Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
Wild senna (Senna hebacarpa)
American plum (Prunus americana)
Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
Button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Hop hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)
Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
Ladies Tresses (Spiranthes cernua)
In nature, high quality habitat quickly attracts all kinds of wildlife, and that certainly has been true of the new pond. Once its plant life and aquatic invertebrates began to flourish, all sorts of frogs and turtles migrated to it. Early in the year, spring peepers gather and sing as tadpoles by the hundreds can be seen in the water. Green frogs, wood frogs and American toads now call the pond and its edges home. Intentionally laid rocks on the bottom of the pond form a perfect refuge for frogs to survive their winter torpor, and there is plenty of vegetation and nooks in which developing tadpoles can hide from hungry herons.
Meanwhile, turtles looking to sun themselves have been attracted to an intentionally half-submerged log and some rocks that break the pond’s surface. In the water, minnows simultaneously feed themselves while keeping the water clean. During the summer, dragonflies flit across the pond surface as butterflies float about the flowering meadow.
In addition, our latest wild resident is the northern water snake, a harmless, nonvenomous serpent sometimes confused with the water moccasin.