Margrove Ponds

Margrove Pond is a big pond; a large and striking feature at the centre of the beautiful Margrove Valley.

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This site includes a variety of habitats; the main expanse of open water is surrounded by fenland with dense beds of common reed and reedmace. All this is reflected in an impressive total of over 150 bird species that have been recorded here, including a number of scarce and rare birds. Two smaller ponds tucked away at the back of the site are home to frogs, toads and newts.

The main pond attracts waterfowl including greylag and Canada goose, mallard, teal, tufted duck and coot. Common snipe feed in the damp grassland to the left of the track while reedswamp and surrounding bushes are good for reed bunting and reed warblers. Water rails occasionally call from the reedy cover and the odd grey heron is feeds along the water margins.

The hillsides visible from the pond are great for raptors which can occasionally be seen during suitable weather conditions (sunny, with a stiff breeze, giving both thermals and up-draughts). Common buzzard, sparrowhawk, peregrine and kestrel are all regularly seen and there is always a chance of goshawk and merlin. Other migrant raptors in spring can include marsh harrier, osprey and hobby.

Originally thought to be the remains of a post-glacial lake, it is now considered that Margrove Pond resulted from the weight of the adjacent 22 metre-high shale heap pressing down on soft glacial deposits. The shale heap belonged to the South Skelton Ironstone Mine which operated here between 1872 and 1954. The route of the old Middlesbrough to Boosbeck railway, which was constructed to serve the mine, is still visible at the northern end of the pond, while the terraced mineworkers’ cottages at Margrove Park climb the hill to the south and provide an attractive backdrop to the reserve.