BELGRADE — A small group of bird-watchers huddled in the early morning cold outside the Maine Lakes Resource Center Sunday, hoping to catch a glimpse of a bufflehead or common merganser.

To the untrained eye the ducks appear as small dots on the waters of North Pond, but to the bird-watchers, armed with binoculars and years of accumulated knowledge, the birds and their variations seem almost easy to spot.

November is a good time for duck watching, when many of the birds are in the process of migrating to warmer waters and are stopping at inland lakes and ponds like North Pond to refuel and rest on their way, according to Logan Parker, community engagement coordinator for the Maine Lakes Resource Center.

Sunday’s event was the center’s final bird-watching event of the year, a new program that they are hoping to continue with greater frequency in 2016.

“It’s something we started to get people engaged and interested in the lake’s resources,” Parker said.

Sunday’s participants were mostly experienced bird-watchers, but they eagerly shared their knowledge and passion with the less-experienced on a tour of North Pond in search of ducks and other fowl.

“It’s a great thing to do because you can do it anywhere,” said Phil Downes, 66, of Sidney. “All you need is a pair of binoculars and a book.”

“If you’re going to be outdoors or are going for a hike, it’s a way to do two or three things at a time,” said Margaret Viens, 60, of Waterville. She said she has been a bird-watcher for about eight years and shares the passion with her five brothers and sisters, who are also bird-watchers.

“I think people get mad at me because everywhere I go I’m looking for birds,” Viens said. “I’ll stop in the middle of a conversation and say ‘Oh, look at that one!'” Viens says that she has spotted more than 232 species of birds in Kennebec County alone.

On Sunday the group counted a large variety including buffleheads, common mergansers, common loons, red-necked grebes, a bald eagle, ring-billed gulls and herring gulls, among others.

They also carefully documented their findings using the iPhone app eBird, a real time checklist that allows birdwatchers to document and share their findings with a global community.

“The basis for the outing is that birders make good stewards of the land,” Parker said. “We’re a group that is interested in preserving the resources the lakes have to offer, so the more people we have who can be stakeholders in the water, whether that’s for camps or birding or any other reason, the better.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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