At the south end of Condon turn left off Hwy. 19 onto Hwy. 206, drive 4 blocks and turn right (south) on Jefferson St. Take Jefferson to the end and you will see the ponds. There is a sign that says No Trespassing but birders are allowed in. Pull in and park in the gravel parking area just inside the gate and the ponds will be on your right up a slight incline. It is best practice to check in with City Hall or email them before your visit (firstname.lastname@example.org). This is not a requirement but a courtesy. If any City personnel are around, it’s always a good idea to stop and let hem know what you are doing. They do look at the eBird hotspot to see what has been found here.
Important side trip – Going west from the ponds a gravel road dips down into a swale containing a small cattail marsh, a few small willows and some reedy growth. South of the swale a small creek runs through a grove of cottonwood trees. The slope to the west of the swale contains a growth of sagebrush and grass. California Quail, House Finches and Red-winged Blackbird are abundant. Both American and Lesser Goldfinch have been seen. Hummingbirds sometimes stop by. A boggy area at the head of the creek sometimes hosts Wilson’s Snipe. Since it contains a wide variety of habitats, including the cottonwood grove, this spot has the best potential in the county for vagrant birds to show up. If it was birded regularly, it would likely produce some surprises.
Habitat and Birds
These ponds are excellent for ducks, moderate for shorebirds; open to birders. There are three ponds here surrounded on three sides by fields. Two smaller ones that are always full of water and a large one that draws down over the summer, creating a shoreline the length of the pond that is a magnet to migrating shorebirds in the fall. Western, Least, Baird’s, Semipalmated, Pectoral, Solitary, Spotted sandpipers, Dunlin, Dowitcher, Semipalmated Plover, Avocet, Black-Necked Stilt, Wilson & Red-Necked Phalarope and Lesser & Greater Yellowlegs have all been found here. Both Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Eared Grebes, Lesser Scaup, Canvasback, Redhead, Blue-Winged Teal are some of the waterfowl also seen. Greater White-Fronted, Canada, Cackling, Snow geese and Tundra Swan are possible in spring/fall. Sparrows, American Pipit, Horned Larked, blackbirds, swallows are common passerines. Common Nighthawks hunt over the ponds in summer. Golden Eagle, Red-Tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Peregrine, Prairie Falcon, Cooper’s Hawk and Merlin can also be found hunting in the area. Some notables include Black & Forster’s Tern, Franklin’s Gull, Sandhill Crane, Snow Bunting, Great Egret, Surf Scoter. The ponds very often freeze over at the height of winter. There is a lot of potential here and is a must stop in the county.