Birdwatching is one of the easiest ways to enjoy the outdoors. All you need is a pair of binoculars and a willingness to look and listen.
The Hatfield Lakes are a series of evaporation and percolation ponds at the City of Bend’s wastewater treatment plant off McGrath Road near the Bend Airport.
Birds love this oasis of water in the high desert.
“There’s water in the ponds so it’s a magnet for birds. Mainly waterfowl and shorebirds,” said Damian Fagan, a naturalist.
RELATED: The Great Outdoors: Under the Snow
We tagged along on a Deschutes Public Library birding field trip to Hatfield Lakes.
The group included a mix of newcomers and experienced bird watchers.
They walked on levees surrounding the ponds, which provide excellent views of ducks and geese on the water, and shorebirds feeding along the edges.
“It’s a great location, close to Bend with easy access. The City of Bend allows birds, dog walkers and bicyclists to come out, walk the dikes. For bird watchers, because of water in the ponds, it’s a magnet for birds. You get waterfowl, shorebirds, some birds of prey. There’s a really good diversity of birds out here,” Fagan said.
Birdwatching doesn’t require much in the way of equipment: A good pair of binoculars gets you started.
“A decent pair of binoculars you can see well out of, that’s a good starting point for most birders. They’ll be able to see birds up close and at a distance. Next step up would be a spotting scope for long-distance viewing, especially if you are looking at shorebirds that you can’t approach too closely. It helps with that magnification to bring them in closer.”
Many birders carry field guides to help identify the birds they observe.
But birding has gone techie, with a handful of mobile apps that help identify birds and contribute your observations to databases of bird populations and migration patterns.
For example, on the E-bird app from Cornell University, once you’ve found a bird you know by sight or sound, the fastest way to add it is in the quick entry bar.
“There’s a lot of great apps. One I use in particular is E-Bird,” Fagan said. “It is a recording of your sightings so you can not only list what you’ve seen and where you’ve seen it, you can also search. Let’s say looking at Hatfield Lake, what’s been seen in the last week? What’s been seen in the last year? It has great descriptions, photographs, those sorts of things.”
You can find birding apps, such as E-bird, on your smart phone app store.