The l'Ilé pond, a superficie of 4 ha propose you a teachful path or even a guided tour at the meeting of birds!
1. Location and access
the site of Ilet is around the N 83 road, at the roundabout after Etalle towards Florenville.
No access to the pond sides, except for the two observatories, so that you don’t disturb the many birds which come there especially during nesting periods and to preserve a rest place for migratory birds.
2. Status of the site
At the beginning of the nineties, the district of Etalle purchased 48 ha. of the site, in order to develop them. The main target was to reinstate the ancient pond of Etalle which had been drained during the 18th century. The site has been partially remade under water and a fish ladder has been put in.
The whole of the place has been recognized green zone for the sector plan. Fishing and hunting are not allowed except for boar destruction.
Supervision is operated by agents from the Nature and Forests Division.
more about this
The names "Ilé" or "Ilet" designate the emerged place in the middle of the pond where that used to cover the whole territory between the mill farm in Etalle and the villages of Fratin and Sainte-Marie.
The pond, that dates back, at least to the 17th century, was watered by several brooks and by some fountains. Some of them ware the Aunes brook from Fratin, and its affluent, the Mauvais ruisseau; the Chauwière brook from Sainte-Marie; the fountains of Saint-Martin and of Ferjanwé, and many nameless short brooks.
The Chauwière brook was watered by outlet of the big pond before ending up in the Semois. The second outlet, East from the first, watered the paddle wheels of the flour mill before ending up in the Semois as well.
Currently, the outlet of the pond that has been restored is still the Semois, mainly through the Aunes brook and incidentally through the Chauwière brook.
The average altitude height of the pond might have been about 335 meters. Towards 1775, the pond occupyed an area that was likely wide between 50 and 65 ha, which makes it was the second widest pond of Wallonia, but it was widely forestalled by the pond of Virelles wthat is wide about 116 ha. It was likely not very deep, maximum 2 or 3 meters, because this pond has not been dug, but instead it results from a dam of brooks, made thanks to a transverse dike. So, this pond has been created by men, as most of the big ponds.
Nowadays, the dikes can still be detected on the ground.
The pond was used for breeding up fishes, probably carps.
At the very begining of the 19th century, the mill was still used but the fish berrring had stopped.
All the ponds, whether they are natural or not, have a tendancy to silt up and to disappear after quite a long time. The surroundings of the pond of Etalle, mainly surrounded by cultivated fields at the 18th century, had the ideal conditions to favour erosion and accumulation of sediments down the slopes, causing its progressive filling.
The disparition of the pond of Etalle by drying must have taken place in the first half of the 19th century. some ancient maps show indeed that the pond had completely disappeared and was substituted by swampy meadows.
From th eend of the 19th century on, conifers got planted and invaded more and more the area, causing a significant closure of the landscape. These plants took the place of the humid meadows, of some cultivated lands and of rare parels of broad-leaved trees.
After 1995, a part of the coniferous trees got cut in order to prepare trim of the roas bypass of the entity of Etalle ; another one got cut in order to dig a new pond, on lands located in front of the ancient mill, and bought by the entity of Etalle. This recent re-opening had important consequances on the composition of the vegetal ground. the new pond huge some hectares got under water in 1997.