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

October 24th, 2016
Hilltop Lake Park, Richmond
Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 9:00 — 10:30 a.m.
Cathy Bleier, 510-527-2327 or 510-414-5719 (cell); csbleier@sbcglobal.net.

Easy 0.75 mile walk around Hilltop Lake (my patch) in Richmond.   Freshwater pond surrounded by willows, cattails, and native and ornamental trees and shrubs.   Maybe the ring-necked ducks will have arrived… Take Richmond Parkway exit west off highway 580, turn on to Lakeside Drive (where YMCA is) and turn left on Research Drive to park. We’ll meet there, at top path down into park. ). Heavy rain cancels. If in doubt, call my cell phone before coming. Feel free to call or email any questions.


Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland
Wednesday, October 26, 9:30 a.m. – noon
(Fourth Wednesday bird walk)
Hilary Powers, 510.834.1066, hilary@powersedit.com; Ruth Tobey, 510.717.3264, ruthtobey@gmail.com 

Fall migration is in full swing and ducks should be returning to the lake.

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.


Belmont Slough and Radio Road, Redwood City
Sunday, October 30, 9:30 a.m. — 12:30 p.m.
Susan MacWhorter: susan.macwhorter@yahoo.com, 650-465-0933 and Maureen Lahiff: MLahiff@aol.com, 510.484.6529

After observing shorebirds feeding at Belmont Slough we’ll head for the nearby Silicon Valley Clean Water treatment ponds on Radio Road. Among the many water birds at the ponds, Black Skimmers are a highlight.

Meet at the Sea Link Café behind the Redwood Shores Branch Library, 399 Marine Parkway, Redwood City. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/CGcgMri9bcR2

From the north, take highway 101 south to exit 412, Ralston Avenue. Use the left three lanes to turn left onto Ralston Avenue, which continues onto Marine Parkway. Pass the Oracle campus and turn left at the light onto Bridge Parkway. The library is immediately on the left.


Tilden Park, Berkeley
Friday, November 4, 8:30 — 11 a.m.
(First Friday bird walk)
Alan Kaplan, LNKPLN67@gmail.com or (510)526-7609

Meet at the Tilden Nature Area parking lot in front of the EEC and Little Farm.

Migration and Dispersal is our theme today: we have birds arriving to stay for the winter, such as Townsend’s Warbler and Hermit Thrush. Why do birds take the risks to travel? Our text for today is the new Handbook of Bird Biology from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology/Wiley. (Cornell is again offering the bird biology course, now on-line!). Easy walk down to Jewel Lake and back again. 


Note: End of Daylight Savings Time. Turn your clocks back one hour!

San Francisco Botanical Garden
Sunday, November 6, 8:00 — 10:30 a.m.
(First Sunday bird walk)

Dominik Mosur, polskatata@yahoo.com; Allan Ridley, allanrid@pacbell.net; Helen McKenna; Ginny Marshall, ginnybirder@sbcglobal.net; Robert Cullison, robbo50@sbcglobal.net; Angie Geiger, acgeig@sbcglobal.net (Leaders vary by month.)

Meet at the front gate of the garden in Golden Gate Park, 9th Ave. at Lincoln Way.

The garden has several micro-habitats that attract an array of resident, migrant, and vagrant birds. This monthly trip is oriented toward helping beginning birders develop their skills. Entry is free before 9:00 AM.


Berkeley Aquatic Park and Emeryville Marina
Friday, November 11, 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
(Second Friday bird walk; leaders vary by month)
Rusty Scalf, rscalf@sonic.net

Meet at Berkeley Aquatic Park at the south end of Bolivar Drive in Berkeley. Bolivar Dr can be accessed as the west-most point of either Addison Street or Bancroft Way. We will bird Aquatic Park from end to end.

Directions from the Eastshore Freeway: Exit University Ave. and go east. Turn right (south) on 4th St. Go three blocks and turn right (west) on Bancroft. Turn left (south) on Bolivar at the T-intersection. Park wherever you can. We’ll meet at the south end of Bolivar near the kids’ play structure. Link to Google Map: http://goo.gl/maps/Ifky7


North Livermore Raptor Survey, Alameda County
Friday, November 11, 9 a.m. — 1 p.m.
Bob Power, rcpower@sbcglobal.net, Christine Carino

We’ll meet near Livermore for a short hawkwatch and walk, then carpool around the north Livermore back roads to conduct a point by point raptor survey. We’ll return to our starting point by 1:00. The trip is restricted to 15 participants in order to fit into four cars. Directions will be provided to confirmed participants. Contact the leader to sign up. Carpooling may be available from the 35th and Jordan area in Oakland. 


Lake Merritt: Birds and History in Oakland
Saturday, November 12, 8 – 10:30 a.m.
Clayton Anderson, (510) 779-7639, naturalart@earthlink.net

Join us for a walk around fabled Lake Merritt (1.5 miles). We’ll talk about the history and evolution of Lake Merritt while looking to see what birds winter has blown into the Oldest Wildlife Sanctuary in the United States. (Who knew?) Meet at the far end of the parking lot hidden between the Oakland Museum and the old Kaiser Convention Center. To get there, take Oak Street and turn right on 10th Street. At the end of the museum, turn left onto the little side street and follow it to the very end of the parking lot.


Birding the Bay Trail by Bicycle
Saturday, November 12, 9:30 a.m. – ~ 1 p.m.
Jeffrey Black, (510) 526-7068, buffalo1003@aol.com and Pat Greene, (415) 481 5469 (cell-day of ride), pjgreene@sonic.net, and Cathy Bleier (510) 414-5719

Meet at 9:30 am on Bolivar Drive at the foot of Bancroft Way in Aquatic Park in Berkeley (this is a 10 minute ride from North Berkeley BART; there is also parking along Bolivar). We’ll ride ~15 flat miles, birding first around Aquatic Park, then taking the multiuser bridge to the Bay Trail first toward Emeryville and then back toward Richmond. Helmets required. Bring binoculars and snacks; wear layers. Call or email Pat if you want to borrow binoculars. Restrooms are located ~0.1 mile south of the meeting place at the playground at the end of Bolivar. This birding ride is co-listed with Grizzly Peak Cyclists. Rain Cancels. If the weather is questionable, send your e-mail address to Pat to receive early AM news on the status of the ride. 


Children’s Trip to Las Gallinas Storage Ponds, San Rafael
Saturday, November 12, 9 – 11 a.m.
Eugenia Caldwell, ec94131@gmail.com and Pauline Grant, 415-990-1291


The focus of this outing will be wintering ducks and geese– birds that sit still longer than tree birds!! Some typical species for these ponds: 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 15 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 at the entrance to the golf course (not near the storage ponds). Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/9a4oXrRKapM2


Las Gallinas Ponds, San Rafael
Sunday, November 13, 8 — 11 a.m.
Miya Lucas, amlucasca@yahoo.comWendy Beers, (510)685-9670,docwlb@gmail.com

Meet at the parking lot at the end of Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael.  We’ll plan on walking around the settling ponds, as well as walking out to the marshes in hopes of hearing and even possibly seeing Ridgway’s Rails.  There are usually Northern Harriers and White Tailed Kites working the meadows, and both osprey and Bald Eagles have been sited flying over the ponds.  Lots of ducks, to be seen, too.  One never knows what they might see or hear, but it’s a good place to find Green Herons, and look for the American Bittern who usually arrives in November.   It can be foggy or hot, so wear sunscreen and a hat and have some water with you just in case it gets really warm.  It will be a leisurely and level stroll, suitable for all levels.  Rain or Shine.  Port-a-potty at the parking lot.  Google Maps link https://goo.gl/maps/ 7t2hvDMMBWQ2 


Sibley Volcanic Preserve (starting from Old Tunnel Rd. on the EAST side of the Caldecott Tunnel), Orinda
Tuesday, November 15, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
Tim Howe, timgh88@yahoo.com, cell (510) 435-6654

We will walk up the asphalt fire road named Quarry Rd. Meet at Old Tunnel Rd. Staging Area. This is on Old Tunnel Rd. off Fish Ranch Rd. on the Orinda side of the Caldecott Tunnel. There’s a parking area with 5 spots; if these are full there is more parking a little further down the road. The only bathroom is at the parking area. Bring binocs and fluids. Scopes not needed. Rain and/or high wind cancels. EBRPD Map: http://www.ebparks.org/Assets/_Nav_Categories/Parks/Maps/Sibley+map.pdf


Penn Hughes’ Third Wednesday bird walks will return in January. 


Corona Heights, San Francisco
Friday, November 18, 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


Shadow Cliffs Regional Park, Pleasanton
Saturday, November 19, 9:00 a.m. — Noon
Steve and Carol Lombardi, hotrock175@gmail.com, 925/785-0130

Shadow Cliffs features riparian, woodland, park, and open water habitats in a small area. Easy walking on flat paths provide good viewing of ducks and other water birds. Also woodland species, usually Osprey, and sometimes eagles. All skill levels welcome. Meet in the main parking lot near the swimming beach. The park entrance is off Stanley Blvd. between Pleasanton and Livermore.

Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/xG5Tb7s3frj Directions at http://www.ebparks.org/parks/maps. Restrooms. Parking fee. 


Birds of the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays
Cruise with Dolphin Charters
Saturday, November 19, 8:45 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Leader: Hilary Powers, 510.834.1066, hilary@powersedit.com

This trip is FULL.

San Francisco Bay, the largest and one of the most important estuaries along the Pacific Flyway, is right in our own backyard.  Join us as we cruise from Berkeley toward the Golden Gate Bridge and north into San Pablo Bay, hugging the shorelines and waters that are home to thousands of wintering birds.

Leaving from Berkeley, we will proceed along the old Berkeley ferry pier to see what’s shaking, turn north and head over to Southhampton Shoal, and then on to the Richmond Inner Harbor and Brooks Island and its breakwater. Leaving this area we’ll travel to Red Rock before passing under the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge and our views of East and West Brothers Islands. This trip offers water bird and marine mammal viewing in stunning locations, many of which can only be seen by boat.  In addition to the many ducks, loons, pelicans and gulls that come into the Bay for the winter, we can also expect to see resident cormorants, grebes, terns and murres.

Dress in layers. Bring liquids and lunch. Trip is limited to 29 people. Cost is $85 for GGAS members and $95 for non-members.

Click here to register for the waiting list in case of cancellations.

Depart and return: Berkeley Marina (Directions and trip details will be emailed to registered participants about two weeks before.


Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco
Sunday, November 20, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
(Third Sunday bird walk)
David Assmann, david_assmann@yahoo.com

Meet in front of the Community Garden to explore several different habitats in this compact part of GGNRA. Although migration is essentially over, there are a number of wintering species at Fort Mason, and the species count in November can be as high as 50.  We’ll explore Aquatic Park for returning Red-Breasted Mergansers and other ducks, grebes and loons.  The tide will be low, so we’ll look for Wandering Tattlers and Black Turnstones on the shore. The garden and the Battery should have a variety of land birds, including warblers, thrushes, woodpeckers and sparrows. Restroom in meadow, ample parking if there is no race on the waterfront (also easily accessible by transit). Google Maps link: http://goo.gl/maps/RKZwU


Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland
Wednesday, November 23, 9:30 a.m. – noon
(Fourth Wednesday bird walk)
Hilary Powers, 510.834.1066, hilary@powersedit.com; Ruth Tobey, 510.717.3264, ruthtobey@gmail.com 

Winter is the peak time for Lake Merritt: it’s Club Bird for Canadian and near-Arctic breeders, and all the regular guests should have arrived and none departed. Special treat for November: a chance to get out of the house (or get your guests out of the house, or both) the day before Thanksgiving… 

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. 


University of California Campus, Berkeley
Saturday, November 26, 8:30 — 10:30 a.m.
Christina Tarr, Christina.tarr@gmail.com, (510) 375-0520

We will follow in the footsteps of early surveyors Margaret Wythe (1913-1918) Thomas Rodgers and Charles Sibley (1938-1939) and the more recent Allison Schultz (2006-2007). Using data from their surveys, we will see how the bird population on the Cal campus has changed in number and diversity over the past 100 years. We’ll start along the north fork of Strawberry Creek, then circle back through the Eucalyptus Grove and the Grinnell Natural Area, following the south fork of Strawberry Creek up to the campanile. If we have time, we’ll explore Faculty Glade.

Meet on the Cal campus at the West Circle, near the Life Sciences Addition building. Parking is available nearby on the Crescent and on Oxford St. Campus map available here: http://www.berkeley.edu/pdf/campusmap.pdf. Google map available here: https://goo.gl/maps/xVkphAeYtW72


Garretson Point and Arrowhead Marsh, MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland
Sunday, November 27, 8:30 a.m. — Noon
Maureen Lahiff, MLahiff@aol.com, 510.484.6529

8:30 a.m. start will get us exposed mudflats to see shorebirds feeding and then put us at Arrowhead Marsh as the tide nears its high point. And what a high tide it is! Almost a new moon, and close to solstice, so the high tide is almost 7 feet. We’ll meet at Garretson Point, enjoy the ducks and shorebirds on the bay and in the seasonal wetland across from the parking lot if we’ve been blessed with rain, then walk to the bridge over Damon Slough. To maximize birding time, we’ll drive to Arrowhead Marsh, where we’ll listen and look for Ridgway Rails, Sora, 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. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/iPzqj9cnugH2


Further Out


Yosemite’s Bird Life, Yosemite National Park
Friday — Sunday, June 2 – 4, 2017
Dave Quady, (510) 704-9353 or davequady@att.net, and Dave Cornman.

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 the two 2014 fires that swept through Foresta, and 2013’s Rim Fire affect the area’s bird life? Let’s see what we can learn.

This trip is limited to 20 participants; sign-ups begin at noon on November 15 – by email to davequady@att.net only, please. Past participants have found it convenient to camp at Hodgdon Meadow in the park (reservations open 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.



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.



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.