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Clay Pond Wildlife Management Area

Easy to get to and close to the City of Jamestown, the Clay Pond Wildlife Management Area is a favored stop for birders and wildlife watchers. Parking areas, trails and the wetlands habitat are all readily visible from the roadside and the 182-acre WMA is easily accessed. The DEC Clay Pond WMA webpage is located here. A map of the WMA is located here on a DEC webpage and in PDF form.

Note Osprey nest on platform

Note Osprey nest on platform

Natural History Interest
The Clay Pond WMA is located in the flat bottomland of ponds, marshes and shrub swamps where the Chautauqua, Cassadaga, and Conewango Valleys converge. Here the Chadakoin River joins Cassadaga Creek, which, in turn, joins Conewango Creek. The streams in this area meander along the valley floor in loops and bends that may make it hard to tell exactly which stream you are looking at. The name “Clay Pond” is descriptive of the soils here that are poorly drained and composed largely of silt and clay deposited onto the bottom of a lake that occupied this valley after the glacier receded from the area some 12,000 years ago. In a relatively short span of time, perhaps 2,000 years, the lake filled in with sediment, leaving the flat valley and lazily meandering streams that we see here today.

RTPI field staff and some assistants

RTPI field staff recording life with some assistants

Who To Contact
For information contact the New York State Department of Conservation here online or at 215 South Work St., Falconer, NY 14733; Tel: 716–665–6111; Fax: 716–665–6124.

How To Get There
The Clay Pond WMA is located on the southern edge of Falconer, NY. There are roadside parking areas but no restrooms or other facilities present. From exit 13 (Falconer) off I-86, turn right onto NY 394 and proceed approximately 0.8 mile to S Work Street. Turn left at the traffic light onto S Work Street and proceed approximately 0.6 mile to New York Avenue. There is another traffic light here directly after a bridge. Go left onto New York Avenue. Parking for the Clay Pond WMA is approximately 0.6 mile ahead on the left and 0.8 mile ahead on the right.

What To See
Baseline data for all forms of life is still being collected at the Clay Pond WMA. To view the eBird hotspot of the site complete with recent bird sightings click on this link. To view an eBird bar chart page of all recorded sightings click on this link. In particular Clay Ponds WMA seems to have an abundant and diverse dragonfly and damselfly population apart from being an obvious hotspot for reptiles and amphibians.

Dot-tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta)

Dot-tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta)

Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita)

Fragile Forktails (Ischnura posita) in mating “wheel”

Why It’s Important To Conservation
Clay Pond WMA offers waterfowl a safe, secluded and favorable stopover site during both spring and fall migration. Species ranging from Pied-billed Grebe to Lesser Scaup to Ring-necked Duck and more can be found here either feeding or resting. Shorebirds such as the Wilson’s Snipe or Lesser Yellowlegs can be found doing the same. Long-legged waders and raptors use the area to feed in, with the Osprey nesting on erected platforms. Imperiled species like the Rusty Blackbird also use the site during journeys north or south. In short, providing a clean, protected and managed aquatic environment such as this aids hundreds of diverse life forms and thousands upon thousands of individuals each year.