The Farm Pond should look familiar. There are lots of similar farm ponds scattered throughout the area. Aerial photos from the 1930s reveal our farm pond has been in place for at least 90 years. It was created by dredging a wet area and building a dam. The pond is fed by ephemeral streams, seeps and runoff from the upland wooded areas.
Originally, the pond provided a reliable source of water for growing crops and watering livestock for several generations of farmers. Today, it provides a home and sustenance for a diversity of wildlife, including frogs, fish and dragonflies.
You shouldn’t have to look hard to find the turtle sculpture next to the pond. This is a spiny softshell turtle. It’s not the kind of turtle you’ll find in our pond. But it’s a rare kind of turtle found mostly in Western New York — and the best place to see them is in the Chadakoin River, along the Jamestown Riverwalk.
Spiny softshell turtles are listed in New York as a species of “special concern.” They are one of the few turtle species that can breathe underwater. This, however, makes them highly susceptible to water pollution and other human disturbances. The good news is that the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is busy restoring several stretches of the river, including safe, secure nesting habitat for these rare, wonderful turtles.
There’s plenty of life in the pond that we can’t see, from tiny invertebrates to painted turtles. Sometimes, the trick to finding wildlife is just to know where to look. On warm sunny days, painted turtles love to sunbathe on the edge of the pond, and sometimes you can see their shells poking out of the water.
We all know dragonflies for their speed and shiny wings and beautiful colors, but did you know they spend most of their life underwater? During this stage, they are called “dragonfly nymphs.” A female dragonfly can lay thousands of eggs in her lifetime; it makes you wonder how many are in this pond right now.