IBA criteria met: A2, B4i (2013)
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Area: 43 ha
Site description (2013 baseline)
This large near-circular pond is the most recognizable wetland on Anguilla lying immediately to the west of the settlement, a popular beach among both local residents and visitors and port of Sandy Ground. Best viewed from the southern ridge of Sandy Ground (South Hill), the settlement and pond together comprise perhaps the most iconic landscape on mainland Anguilla.
The pond is bordered to the west by a dune system, now largely flattened and built upon. To the north, east and south, some of the highest hills on Anguilla curve around the pond which forms a valley bottom at their base. The hills are clothed in low dry forest scrub with scattered trees and create the predominant water catchment area of the pond.
Over the years substantial infilling of the pond has taken place. Indeed – and most recently (1996-1997) - the pond’s southern catchment was filled to accommodate the raising and widening of the road as well as on the northern corner to upgrade a small track into a paved road. In 2005, the pond south-western corner of the pond was infilled to create parking space for shipment trailers. The pond is now closely bordered by a ring road although on the eastern side; this is set back behind fringing vegetation, a truck park and a sports field. In addition to the settlement directly within Sandy Ground, significant residential housing and villas line the North and South Hill slopes and ridges.
Dating back to the settlement period of the Amerindians, Road Pond has been used as a source of salt. Saltworks infrastructure in the form of rock walls and dams within the pond still line its inner perimeter. Artefacts and images preserving, celebrating and recognising this place of Anguillian history and heritage can be found at a bar and restaurant that used to be the Salt Factory Pumphouse.
This is a spectacular pond for wetland birds and over the course of a year it will attract the widest range of species of any site on Anguilla. While average bird numbers on this pond per year fluctuate annually, they tend to fluctuate around a low average of just over 500 birds and a high of about 750 birds.
Breeding species include Green heron, White-cheeked pintail and Common moorhen around the edges of the pond and littoral vegetation. Pintails tend nest when water levels are high and have been seen with ducklings in most months. Wading birds including Killdeer, Wilson’s plover and Black-necked stilt nest in drier areas and on the saltworks. In recent years least terns have been recorded breeding on the salt pond walls. The dry forest and scrub that surround the pond hold breeding populations of most of Anguilla’s resident land birds including Mangrove cuckoo and restricted range species, Caribbean elaenia and Lesser Antillean bullfinch. In the period May to August, Antillean nighthawks can be seen over North Hill village.
Several species of seabirds will visit the pond to feed, bathe, and/or roost on these salt pond walls. These include Brown pelicans, Magnificent frigatebirds and Royal, Sandwich and Least terns. Regionally important numbers of Laughing gull arrive in April, gathering on salt pond walls to roost before dispersing to breeding sites on the outlying cays.
Herons and egrets are seen year round but highest numbers are present in the winter months when they will roost in bushes on the eastern shore.
A mixture of extensive areas of shallow water and muddy edges attracts large numbers of migratory waterbirds with a peak of over 1700 birds present in September 2008, including a flock of over 700 Semi-palmated sandpipers. Over 30 species of waterbirds have been recorded here and it is among the best places in the Eastern Caribbean to see breeding species from the Arctic such as Stilt sandpipers, Semi-palmated sandpipers and Pectoral and White-rumped sandpipers. Many of these species stay throughout the winter months. The high numbers of birds present on passage and in winter provide prey for Peregrine falcons and Merlin while Osprey will catch fish in the bay and the pond.
Author: Clarissa Lloyd, Anguilla National Trust