Upcoming Field Trips

Golden Gate Audubon offers more than 100 field trips annually for birders of all levels. Our trips explore local areas from Golden Gate Park to the East Bay shoreline and hills, as well as such wildlife-rich destinations as California’s Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada.

We also sponsor trips to other parts of the U.S. and to international destinations, including Latin America, Africa, and Australia. Field trips are led by experienced birders who are passionate in sharing their knowledge of birds and their habitats. See our Travel with GGAS page for upcoming travel opportunities.  

Local trips are free, except for any park entrance fees. Advance reservations may be necessary. It is advisable to confirm with the trip leader that a trip will take place as planned, especially if inclement weather is expected. Reports of recent and past field trips are on these pages.

For questions about individual field trips, contact the leaders. If you cannot reach a leader, contact 510-843-2222 or email volunteer@goldengateaudubon.org.

We encourage people to share rides to field trips! See the bottom of this page for information about our friendly, easy-to-use GGAS carpool group.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Field Trips

February 1st, 2016

Inspiration Point, Tilden Park, Berkeley
Friday, February 12, 8:30 — 10:30 a.m.
(Second Friday bird walk)
Alan Kaplan, LNKPLN@earthlink.net or (510) 526-7609 for messages.

We’ll walk along the Nimitz Way. Early spring wildflowers will be a bonus! Meet at the parking lot of Inspiration Point (Tilden Regional Park), off of Wildcat Canyon Road.

Restrooms at the start; bring water. 

 

Birds of the Delta – boat trip with Dolphin Charters
Sunday February 14, 9 a.m. to 4 or 4:30 p.m.
David Assmann

This trip is now FULL. You may register to be on the waiting list.

This cruise is a winter highlight for birders and provides a specialized look at the richness and history of the California Delta. This species rich area includes a variety of raptors such as Swainson’s hawk, peregrine falcon and great-horned owl, large numbers of shorebirds, sandhill cranes, huge rafts and flocks of waterfowl including tundra swans, snow, Canada, and greater white-fronted geese. Ducks of a number of kinds as well as numerous other groups including gulls, terns, bitterns, passerines and woodpeckers call this area home in the winter.

In addition, you will learn about the Delta itself — what it is, how it got here, and the changes it’s seen as well as what might be in store for the future.

Depart and return: Antioch Marina. Registered participants swill be sent directions to the marina plus other logistical information about a week before the trip.

Cost: $100 for GGAS members, $110 for non-members. Click here to register. Once the trip is full, you may register to be on the waiting list. 

 

Family Bird Count at the Berkeley Waterfront
Sunday, February 14, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Anthony DeCicco, adecicco@goldengateaudubon.org

We’ll visit Berkeley’s Aquatic Park and then explore the birds of the Berkeley waterfront. After we learn about and count the birds we see, we’ll share our findings with National Audubon’s Great Backyard Bird Count, which takes place this weekend. Meet at the playground parking lot on Bolivar Drive. Dress in warm layers. Bring binoculars if you have them; if not, we can lend you some. ​RSVP to Anthony at adecicco@goldengateaudubon.orgNOTE: This event is limited to children and their accompanying adults.

 

Garretson Point and Arrowhead Marsh, MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland
Monday, February 15, 2:00 p.m. to dusk
Maureen Lahiff, MLahiff@aol.com, 510.484.6529

This is an afternoon trip, to get the best tide situation in a reasonable time frame (low tide 12:30 p.m., then incoming until 5 ft. high tide a bit after 7:00 p.m.). We’ll meet at Garretson Point, enjoy the ducks and shorebirds on the bay and in the seasonal wetland across from the parking lot, then walk to the bridge over Damon Slough, where the tide will be out, to see shorebirds feeding on the mudflats. To maximize birding time, we’ll then drive to Arrowhead Marsh, where we’ll listen and look for Ridgway’s Rails, Soras, and Virginia Rails. This is a great place to see at least some of the birds fairly close up, and a rewarding place to bird for both beginners and experienced folks. It’s a great place for families, as they can easily leave the trip at any time the kids (or adults) have had enough for the day. We’ll walk a total of about 3 miles on paved, level pathway, watching out for the runners and bicyclists. There are restrooms and water available near Garretson Point and at Arrowhead Marsh. The parking lot at Garretson Point is reached from Edgewater Drive off Hegenberger Road. From I-880, take Hegenberger towards the Oakland Airport. Edgewater Drive has a stoplight. It’s the first right turn if you are coming from I-880. Take Edgewater to the end and continue to the parking lot.

 

Lake Temescal, Oakland
Wednesday, February 17, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
(Third Wednesday bird walk)
Penn Hughes, penn.hughes@att.net or (510) 499-5491 for messages.

We’ll look for passerines, water birds, often a wood duck family.

North entrance: Meet at the large parking lot off Broadway (NOT off Broadway Terrace). Take Hwy 24 toward the Caldecott Tunnel to the Broadway exit. At the light on Broadway, turn left and stay right (don’t go under the freeway), and then stay right again. 6500 Broadway is past College Prep High School, about ½ mile. Both are to the right.

Results of the bird walk will be reported on eBird. Include your email when you sign in on-site if you want to see the eBird report. You can tweak it for what you remember that I don’t! Rest rooms available. Please, no dogs. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/boSn1JH58852

 

UCSF Mt Sutro Open Space Preserve. San Francisco
Thursday, February 18, 8:30 — ~11 AM.
Pat Greene, (415) 566-6637, cell (415) 481-5469, pjgreene@sonic.net, and Sutro Stewards Staff

The UCSF Mt Sutro OSP is a 61-acre fragment of the more than 2000 acres of trees planted by Adolf Sutro in the late 19th century (http://sutrostewards.org/page/trail-map). We’ll walk ~2 miles, with gradual climbs and descents on mostly well-graded trails (with a few rocky spots). With the rain, be prepared for muddy trails. We’ll look and listen for birds, and on these winter walks, we will be accompanied by staff from the Sutro Stewards Native Plant nursery, who will tell us about their program of conversion planting at at the summit and at sites along the trails. The Sutro Stewards ask for a voluntary donation of $5-15 to cover the cost of co-sponsoring this walk. Heavy Rain and/or strong wind cancels; email Pat for last minute updates.

Meet at the Sutro Stewards Native Plant Nursery, 476 Johnstone Dr, at 8:30 (Note: this is a different meeting spot than on the February 28 walk posted below). Driving directions to the Nursery: from Clarendon, turn on Johnstone Drive into UCSF Aldea Housing, continue uphill to the end of Johnstone Drive. Nearby restroom at Aldea Community Center 155 Johnstone Way (on the left as you pass Medical Center Way). From Parnassus, turn onto Medical Center Way, go uphill to T intersection, R on Johnstone Drive and uphill to the end. UCSF can be reached by public transit: N Judah light rail, and 43, 6 and 66 buses. Then you have to hike uphill to the meeting place.

 

Corona Heights, San Francisco
Friday, February 19, 8 – 10 a.m.
(Third Friday bird walk)
Brian Fitch; Dominik Mosur, polskatata@yahoo.com (Leaders vary by month.)

We will enjoy views of the city and bay as we circle Corona Heights, checking the east canyon woodland and north forest for residents and migrants, as well as monitoring the hilltop scrub and south cliff. Change due to parking lot closure: Meet on Museum Way, outside of the closed Randall Museum parking area.  Those who drive to the event should park on Roosevelt Way and walk the short distance down Museum Way. Although the Randall has temporarily moved to new quarters during renovation, this monthly walk will continue to meet at the Museum Way location. Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/nji7XAvpnbM2 

 

Ear-birding at Upper San Leandro Reservoir, near Moraga
Saturday, February 20, 8:30 – noon
Steve and Carol Lombardi, cell 925/785-0130, hotrock175@gmail.com

The last time we tried this, in November, it was a little quiet although we ultimately saw and heard plenty of birds. In February it should be a little noisier, with both local breeders and winter residents beginning to sing. We’ll work on the vocalizations of some of the common birds at this lovely spot. There should be 30 or so common species vocalizing, so plenty to confuse us (well, the Lombardis, at least). Birders of all skill levels are welcome. We’ll walk about three miles on mainly level dirt roads and trails and there will be opportunities to bail out, if you wish.

Meet at the Valle Vista staging area about one mile west of Moraga on Canyon Rd. From Hwy 24, exit at Orinda. Take Moraga Way 5.5 miles south to Moraga. Turn right (west) at Canyon Rd. (note that Canyon is named Moraga Rd. to the left). Go 1.2 miles to the Valle Vista parking lot on your left. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/PJ1iw. Rest room in the parking area; no water. 

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline and beyond by bicycle.
Oakland
Saturday, February 20, 10:30 a.m. – ~3 p.m.Jeffrey Black, (510) 526-7068, buffalo1003@aol.com and Pat Greene, cell day of ride (415) 481-5469, pjgreene@sonic.net

This Coliseum BART to Lake Merritt BART ride is about 20 miles of flat cycling on paved trails and city streets. Shortcut to Fruitvale BART is possible. Beginning birders are welcome. We will enter the shoreline at the end of 66th Ave (Zhone Way), stop at Arrowhead Marsh, and then proceed to the Alameda shoreline to view wintering ducks and shorebirds. Bring binoculars and lunch (or can buy nearby); wear warm layered clothes. Restrooms are located in the BART station and at Arrowhead Marsh. This birding ride is co-listed with Grizzly Peak Cyclists. Meet at 10:30 a.m. near the ticket machines at the Coliseum BART Station (Leaders plan to arrive on the BART trains scheduled to arrive at 10:26 and10:32 a.m.). Rain Cancels. e-mail Pat for updates if weather is questionable. 

 

Concrete Bridge, Lake Merced, San Francisco
Sunday, February 21, 8:30 – 11:00 a.m.
Angie Geiger, 415.264.0029, acgeig@sbcglobal.net  

We will look for Passerines in the shrubs and waterfowl and other birds in and around the water. If time allows, we may carpool to Harding Park to look for additional birds there. All skill levels welcome. Meet near the parking lot on John Muir Drive at the west side of the concrete bridge. Scopes will be very helpful, so bring yours if you have one. This is an easy walk on level ground. A Port-a-Potty is available, but no other restrooms. Please contact me for directions if necessary. 

 

Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco
Sunday, February 21, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
David Assmann, David_Assmann@Yahoo.com

Meet in front of the Community Garden to explore several different habitats in this compact part of GGNRA. In February we’ll try to find this year’s special overwintering species, the Tropical Kingbird and the Nashville Warbler. The morning high tide at 10:22 means we’ll have a good chance of finding a Wandering Tattler, and we’ll look for ducks, grebes and loons as well at Aquatic Park. Three woodpecker species should be in the park. We’ll also look for the earliest of our migrants, the Allen’s Hummingbird, which shows up by February. Restroom in meadow, ample parking if there is no race on the waterfront (also easily accessible by transit). Heavy rain cancels. Google Map: http://goo.gl/maps/RKZwU 

 

Solano County Winter Birds
Sunday, February 21, 7:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.
Bruce Mast, 510-435-1371, cathrasher4@gmail.com, and Pamela Llewellyn

The skies are wide, with raptors soaring and courting. The vernal pools are bulging with life. We’ll look for hawks overhead, Burrowing Owls in the ground squirrel colonies and, with a bit of luck and patience, a Mountain Plover or twenty in the sheep pastures. The trip has little walking, lots of driving and stopping. The exact itinerary will depend on advance scouting reports but we’ll generally bird the area around Robinson and Flannery Roads east of Fairfield and north as far as the Jepson Prairie Preserve. Trip is RSVP only. Limit 14 participants. Please email Bruce Mast at cathrasher4@gmail.com to confirm and obtain trip logistics. 

 

Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland
Wednesday, February 24, 9:30 a.m. – noon
(Fourth Wednesday bird walk)
Hilary Powers, 510.834.1066, hilary@powersedit.com; Ruth Tobey, 510.528.2093, ruthtobey@gmail.com

Come see the winter migrants at their peak – with the off-chance of a cormorant in breeding plumage in February. As long as it’s not raining sideways, we’ll be there; ducks don’t care about the weather, after all! Meet at the large spherical cage near the Nature Center at Perkins and Bellevue. We will bird around there, then go up the garden path toward Children’s Fairyland or walk down the lake toward Embarcadero, after which we will cover what we missed. Public transit: Take the 12, N, or NL bus to Grand and Perkins, and walk into the park on Perkins. Driving: The boathouse lot near the spherical cage is the best spot to park, but there’s plenty of parking along Bellevue between the boathouse and the nature center. Enter via Bellevue near Children’s Fairyland; the $2 “two hour” pass is probably OK even though the trip is about three hours, as the dashboard cards don’t have a start time on them. 

 

UCSF Mt Sutro Open Space Preserve. San Francisco
Sunday, February 28, 8:30 — ~11 AM.
Pat Greene, (415) 566-6637, cell (415) 481-5469, pjgreene@sonic.net, and Sutro Stewards Staff

The UCSF Mt Sutro OSP is a 61 acre fragment of the more than 2000 acres of trees planted by Adolf Sutro in the late 19th century (http://sutrostewards.org/page/trail-map). We’ll walk ~2 miles, with gradual climbs and descents on mostly well-graded trails (with a few rocky spots). With the rain, be prepared for muddy trails. We’ll look and listen for birds, and on these winter walks, we will be accompanied by staff from the Sutro Stewards Native Plant Nursery, who will tell us about their program of conversion planting at the summit and at sites along the trails. The Sutro Stewards ask for a voluntary donation of $5-15 to cover the cost of sponsoring this walk. Heavy Rain and/or strong wind cancels; email Pat for last minute updates.

Meet at Woods Lot, 100 Medical Center Way, at 8:30. (Note; this is a different meeting place than on the Feb. 18 walk). Driving directions to the Woods Lot: from Clarendon, turn on Johnstone Drive into UCSF Aldea Housing, turn R on Johnstone Drive, and continue downhill to a wooden shelter for the UCSF Shuttle Stop; turn right into Woods Lot. Nearby restroom at Aldea Community Center 155 Johnstone Way (on the left at the Medical Center Way intersection). From Parnassus, turn onto Medical Center Way, go uphill past the obvious Surge Lot entrance on the left, Woods lot driveway is an obscure driveway immediately after Surge. UCSF can be reached by public transit: N Judah light rail, and 43, 6 and 66 buses. Then you have to hike uphill to the meeting place.

 

Further Out


Children’s Trip, Las Gallinas Storage Ponds, San Rafael, Marin County
Saturday, March 5, 9:00 — 11:00 a.m.
Eugenia Caldwell, ec94131@gmail.com and Pauline Grant, 415-990-1291

This field trip is designed for CHILDREN AGES 8 AND UP with limited or no experience birding. 

The focus of this outing will be wintering ducks and geese– birds that sit still longer than tree birds!! Some typical species for this area: Ruddy Duck, Common Merganser, American Wigeon, Bufflehead, Canvasback, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Scaup.

We will begin with a quick explanation of how to use binoculars (a few loaner pairs will be available during the field trip) and some basic information on how to identify birds.

RSVP required. Maximum 20 participants. An adult must accompany children under 12. Dress in layers, bring binoculars if you have them, sunscreen, water, sturdy shoes, and a hat, and be prepared for rain showers. Heavy rain will cancel the trip.

Directions: from Highway 101 take the Smith Ranch Road exit, then go east on Smith Ranch toward the McInnis Park entrance. Turn left immediately after crossing the railroad tracks, staying on Smith Ranch, and go about .5 miles to the end of the road, at the Las Gallinas Ponds parking lot. Meet the group by the short concrete bridge that connects to the first pond. The bridge is right next to the parking lot closest to the ponds. Rest room facilities only at the parking area. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/rMdhkw4guzK2

 

San Quentin Point and the Bay Trail, San Rafael
Saturday, March 12, 12:30 — 4:00 p.m.
Rich Cimino, rscimino@gmail.com(925) 353-0266

We’ll bird San Quentin Point and the SF Bay Trail along San Pablo Bay. We will visit the shoreline for peeps and the back bay for gulls, diving ducks, grebes, and wading birds. We will also look for the Puget Sound variety of White-crowned Sparrow. The late start is to accommodate the tides; high tide will be around 3:00.

Meet in the parking lot for the Jean and John Starkweather Shoreline trail head for the SF Bay Trail.Directions to Shoreline Park: Take Hwy 580 west and over the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. Take the first exit merging right to the frontage road (not marked). Continue to drive past the Marin Rod and Gun Club another one third of a mile to a business center on your right. You will see a Bay Café sign. This is The Bay Park Center. Turn right here and continue to drive straight ahead to the Jean /JohnStarkweather Beach trailhead parking.Bring your scope, water, a snack, and a smile.The Bay Café address is 2165 Francisco Blvd, San Rafael, CA 94901 (Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/UXwxwnvgYt82)

 

Napa River Birding – boat trip with Dolphin Charters
Sunday March 13, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Leader: Hilary Powers

This trip is now FULL. You may register to be on the waiting list.

Many birds feed and nest in the riparian zone along the Napa River. Participants may see various raptors, mallard, canvas back, pintail, teal, brown and white pelicans, herons, egrets, kingfishers, grebes, and all sorts of shorebirds. A cruise along the Napa River is like a voyage into the past. This trip begins at the historic Vallejo and Mare Island waterfronts and continues into a different world, one of vineyards, backwater homes, and some of the largest contiguous marshes in the Bay Area.

Depart and return: Vallejo Marina. Registered participants swill be sent directions to the marina plus other logistical information about a week before the trip.

Cost: $80 for GGAS members, $90 for non-members. Click here to register. Once the trip is full, you may register to be on the waiting list.

 

Petaluma River Birding – boat trip with Dolphin Charters
Friday April 15, 10 a.m. to 2 or 2:30 p.m.
Bob Lewis, bob@wingbeats.org

This trip is now FULL. You may register to be on the waiting list.

Enter a different world, one you’ll never see from the road. Cruising down the Petaluma River and meandering past sloughs, oxbows and marshes, participants will experience these vital, aquatic links in our natural world. Boating makes accessible an intimate experience of this backwater, riparian world that lies beyond the end of the road. The boat continues out into San Pablo Bay where a different set of birds – including grebes, waterfowl and terns – can be seen in the deeper water habitat. The extensive mud flats along the edge of San Pablo Bay often host large numbers of shorebirds.

Depart and return: Petaluma Turning Basin. Registered participants will be sent directions to the marina plus other logistical information about a week before the trip.

NOTE: Dolphin Charters is generously donating all proceeds from this trip to Golden Gate Audubon’s annual Birdathon fundraiser!

Cost: $90 for GGAS members, $100 for non-members. Click here to register. Once the trip is full, you may register to be on the waiting list.

 

Yosemite’s Bird Life
Friday through Sunday, June 3 – 5, 2016
Dave Quady, (510) 704-9353 or davequady@att.net,  and Dave Cornman, 

This trip is now FULL but you may email Dave to be on a waiting list.

The lower and middle elevations of Yosemite National Park are alive with singing birds in late May/early June. Varied habitats on the west side of the park support a rich diversity of bird life, typically including seven flycatchers (three Empidonax), seven warblers, three vireos, and many other species in full song and breeding plumage. How did 2013’s Rim Fire, and the two 2014 fires that swept through Foresta, affect the area’s bird life? Let’s try to find out.

This trip is limited to 20 participants. Email to davequady@att.net only, please. Past participants have found it convenient to camp at Hodgdon Meadow in the park (reservation period opens January 15; campground fills up very fast), or to stay in campgrounds or commercial lodgings outside the park’s Big Oak Flat entrance. Details, including meeting times and locations and lodging suggestions, will be provided to confirmed participants. Carpooling encouraged. Participants should bring warm clothes, rainwear, and waterproof boots for wet meadows. Bring lunches for Saturday and Sunday and be prepared to walk about three miles each day.

NOTE: Dave Quady will NOT be leading a Sage Grouse trip this March. He hopes to lead it again in 2017.

 

Pelagic Trips

See birds of the open water! (And maybe some marine mammals.) Shearwater Journeys, Alvaro’s Adventures, and the Oceanic Society all offer discounts to GGAS members. Register in advance since these trips often fill up. Never tried a pelagic (ocean) birding trip? Read our blog post on Pelagic Birding for Beginners!

Shearwater Journeys Pelagic Trips

Shearwater Journeys has offered GGAS members discounted pelagic trips for more than a decade. RESERVATIONS: Please send payment (personal check or money order), name, address, phone, email for each person booking, to Debi Shearwater; POB 190, Hollister, CA 95024; debi@shearwaterjourneys.com. All discounted reservations are non-refundable, non-transferable. A return confirmation will be sent to you. All trips are accompanied by experienced, friendly and knowledgable leaders.

Alvaro’s Adventures Pelagic Trips

Led by Alvaro Jaramillo. Check the website for descriptions, pricing, and availability: http://alvarosadventures.com/boat-trips/pelagics/

Oceanic Society Pelagic Trips

The Oceanic Society offers guided Gray Whale watching trips from Half Moon Bay. Some of their guides have particular expertise in birds; ask their office for dates of trips with bird experts. The cost is normally $125 per person, but GGAS members are eligible for a reduced rate of $105. To reserve at the discounted rate, call their office during business hours at (800) 326-7491 or (415) 256-9604 and ask for Donna Redstone or other staff. Want to charter an entire boat? They can also offer a GGAS discount for that. For details on their trips, see www.oceanicsociety.org.

 ____________________________________________________________

 

Carpooling 

If you are going on a field trip, would you welcome company? Do you have room in your car to take other birders? To help find a ride or offer a ride, sign up with GGA’s carpool group at http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/GGACarPool. When you sign up, you answer a few simple questions, then receive a confirming e-mail. Once you are a member, you post messages under “Need Ride” or “Offer Ride,” along with the destination and date. The more birders who sign up, the more useful the group will be. Birders are encouraged to help the driver with expenses by contributing to the cost of fuel and bridge tolls.

—————————————————————————————————————-

Field Trip E-newsletter and Meetups

Would you like to get a list of field trips sent to your email Inbox each month? Contact the Golden Gate Audubon office at ggas@goldengateaudubon.org and ask to receive the Field Trips e-newsletter. Include your name, preferred email address, plus (for our records) your postal address.

We also post all our field trips on Meetup.com, which can be a convenient way to get reminders of each upcoming trip via email. See www.meetup.com/Golden-Gate-Audubon-Society/.

——————————————

Other Bay Area Bird Walks

Mike Simms compiles a quarterly list of bird walks throughout the Bay Area, including walks by other Audubon chapters. His current list can be found through the Ohlone Audubon web site.