Poxabogue Pond

Poxabogue Pond, “a pond that widens” and Poxabogue Park, “a diverse ecology, quite amazing for such a small parcel of land.”

The 26 acres on the north and northwest shores of Poxabogue Pond, almost two-thirds of its total pond edge, were purchased by Suffolk County in the 1970s, becoming Poxabogue Park, one of the first open space protection acquisitions in the Long Pond Greenbelt. The 40-acre pond itself falls under the aegis and protection of the Southampton Town Trustees. The park and pond are situated in the Village of Sagaponack, in the section north of Montauk Highway referred to as North Sagaponack.

From your car, views of the pond can be enjoyed by taking Poxabogue Lane off Montauk Highway (ARF Thrift Shop on the corner) or take Hildreth Lane off Sagg Road (opposite the Wolffer Winery). Both lanes converge at Old Farm Road, which leads less than a mile north to the entrance of the park. You will see the pond to your left as you proceed down Old Farm Road.

In William Mulvihill’s South Fork Place Names we are told that the name Poxabogue is derived from paugasa-baug, meaning “a pond that widens,” which aptly describes the changes in pond surface size that occur during periods of heavy rainfall and drought.

Poxabogue Pond

At the park, which you can also get to from the north by taking Narrow Lane to the intersection with Old Farm Road and turning south (park entrance is just south of the railroad bridge), lovely views of the pond are available from the knoll just a few hundred yards in from the small parking area at the entrance.

Ken Kindler, a dedicated Long Island hiking advocate, describes the trail through the park as “a half-mile nature trail through fields, woods, and wetlands offering an interesting and diverse ecology, quite amazing for such a small parcel of land.” When you find yourself in the mood for a quick nature boost, take the short hike through this “amazing small parcel of land” or just steer your car toward Old Farm Road and enjoy the refreshing “blue mind” state of seeing and being near nature’s very own calming agent, water.

Memories of Poxabogue

by Jim Ash

Co-Founder and Past Director
South Fork Natural History Museum

Swamp Sparrow

Recently, I was reminiscing about Poxabogue Pond and how it used to be back in the 1970s. Back then, a springtime walk to the pond was, for a naturalist/birder, truly a transformative experience. In addition to the chorus of singing migrant and local breeding woodland birds, there was a cacophony of sound coming from the pond itself. At that time, the pond was almost completely surrounded by cattail marsh. In that marsh, were breeding Swamp Sparrows, Virginia Rails, Sora Rails, Least Bitterns, Pied Billed Grebes, and an assortment of frogs, all lending their voice to the mix.

Virginia Rail

I would sit by the pond for an hour or so, listening to the dry trill of the Swamp Sparrow, the explosive outbursts of Virginia Rails, the plaintive ker-wee of the Sora, and the rapid coo-coo-coo of a Least Bittern (which is reminiscent of the song of a Black Billed Cuckoo, only faster). My favorite, however, was the Pied Billed Grebe; the first time you unexpectedly hear one your reaction is — what in the world is that? I can think of no onomatopoeia to describe it. I suggest you Google it and listen for yourself.

Pied Billed Grebe

All of this was accompanied by booming Bull Frogs, the loose banjo string plunk of Green Frogs, and the exuberant songs of a multitude of Red-Winged Blackbirds. If I sat still long enough, I would sometimes get a look at one of the secretive rails or bitterns, but the grebes would swim around out in the open, singing their raucous songs for all the world to see and hear. For me, it was pure heaven.

Least Bittern

Sadly, none of this exists today. In the late ’70s or early ’80s, I don’t quite remember when there was a chemical spill from a collapsing wooden slatted tank truck in an adjacent farm field. The herbicide drained into Poxabogue Pond and killed all of the cattails. When the vegetation in the pond recovered some years later, unfortunately, the cattails were replaced by invasive non-native Phragmites. Phragmites are not suitable for most of what was there before. Currently, it is almost impossible to find the birds that bred at Poxabogue Pond back then breeding on the South Fork. Needless to say, I yearn for the days when one could sit by Poxabogue Pond on a bright sunny morning in the springtime and listen to the sounds of nature in all her glory.