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

May 20th, 2016

Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland
Wednesday, May 25, 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

May is the tag end of the winter season, but we may see a few laggards. The cormorant rookery will be in full swing.

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.


Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, San Rafael
Sunday, May 29, 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Miya Lucas,  (510) 414-8923amlucasca@yahoo.com

Meet at the parking lot at the end of Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael. We’ll walk the trails around the settling ponds, looking for shorebirds, Green Herons, ducks, swallows, and possibly a vagrant or two.  One can’t promise vagrants, of course, but we’ve seen a number of somewhat unusual species at this time of year at the ponds, including Pectoral and Baird’s Sandpipers.  More likely species include American White Pelicans, stilt and avocets, herons and egrets, a phoebe or two, and sparrows and blackbirds.  It’s a pleasant, level walk along the levees.  We’ll finish about 11 AM.  Facilities include port-a-potty, picnic tables. Google Map: http://goo.gl/maps/wfJMq


Tilden Nature Area, Berkeley
Friday, June 3, 8:30 — 10:30 a.m.
(First Friday bird walk)
Alan Kaplan, LNKPLN@earthlink.net or (510) 526-7609 for messages.

Today’s theme: The life and birds of Alexander Wilson (it is the 250 anniversary of his birth this year).

Meet at the Tilden Nature Area parking lot (in front of the EEC and Little Farm). Restrooms and water at start and midway.


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. Registrants should direct any questions to davequady@att.net only, please.


San Francisco Botanical Garden
Sunday, June 5, 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.


Tilden Park, Berkeley – Dusk Birdsong
Wednesday, June 8, 7:30 p.m.
Rusty Scalf, rscalf@sonic.net

Join us for dusk birdsong at Tilden Regional Park. Dawn chorus is much talked about, but birds sing in the evening as well. The star of this show will probably be Swainson’s Thrush though others sing well into in the evening. Once light fails we might hear an owl. Please park in the parking lot at the end of Canon Drive since the steel gate is closed at dusk. Canon Dr. is the northmost road into Tilden off the Grizzly Peak/Wildcat Canyon intersection. Google map link: http://goo.gl/maps/EuLHs. Directions: http://www.ebparks.org/parks/maps


Redwood Regional Park Main Gate, Redwood Rd.
Friday, June 10, 8:30 — 10:30 a.m.
(Second Friday bird walk)
Steve and Carol Lombardi, 925/785-0130, hotrock175@gmail.com (leaders vary by month) 

We’ll walk up the Stream Trail looking and listening for the many understory birds that breed here including Pacific Wren, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Swainson’s Thrush, and warblers, and enjoy the burbling brook (see Jeanette’s trip write-up on June18) .

Park at the Wayside or Wayside Overflow parking areas, 1/3 mile into the park from Redwood Rd. entrance. Easy walking on pavement or wide, dirt paths. Water and restrooms along the way. There is no parking fee on weekdays.

The Redwood Rd. main gate is in the middle of nowhere east of Oakland and west of Moraga. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/SHrg33TQ6NS2 


UCSF Mt Sutro Open Space Reserve. San Francisco
Saturday, June 11, 8:30 – ~11 a.m.
Pat Greene, (415) 566-6637, cell (415) 481-5469, pjgreene@sonic.net.

Meet at the Woods Lot, 100 Medical Center Way, at 8:30. The UCSF Mt Sutro Open Space 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). If it has been foggy, we may find some mud on trails. We’ll look and listen for birds. The summer birds are here and breeding. The Open Space is the focus of a new push to manage the ‘forest’ for greater habitat diversity in the future. The Sutro Stewards are already utilizing openings in the forest for conservation planting. Strong wind cancels.

Driving directions to the Woods Lot: from Clarendon, turn on Johnstone Drive into UCSF Aldea Housing, turn R on Medical Center Way Drive, and continue downhill to a wooden shelter for the UCSF Shuttle Stop; turn right into Woods Lot. You will pass Aldea Community Center that has a restroom. Aldea Center is at 155 Johnstone Way (at the Johnstone/Medical Center Way intersection). Woods Lot is also usually accessible from Parnassus; however, beware, recently UCSF has been closing this entrance on short notice for work projects. UCSF can be reached by PUBLIC TRANSIT: N Judah light rail stops on Irving; you can take a campus elevator from Irving to Parnassus–(found inside the main Irving St entrance). The 43, 6 and 66 buses stop on Parnassus. It is about a 10 min uphill walk from Parnassus to the Woods Lot.

Please rsvp to pjgreene@sonic.net by email to be notified of last minute updates or changes, or for clarification of directions.


Dimond Park and Sausal Creek, Oakland
Wednesday June 15, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
(Third Wednesday bird walk)
Penn Hughes, penn.hughes@att.net or (510) 499-5491 for messages.

We will explore the park, including the newly restored creek area, pass through the playground area, and hike a short distance up Sausal Creek.

Meet at the parking lot above the recreation center. The car entrance to Dimond Park is at the corner of Hanly Road (from Lyman Road (Fruitvale Avenue)) and El Centro Avenue (from Park Blvd.)  The road loops left up to the parking lot. There are rest rooms in Dimond Park, for sure open later, perhaps NOT OPEN at 8:30am.  Please, no dogs. 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! 


Corona Heights, San Francisco
Friday, June 17, 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 


Redwood Regional Park, Main Gate on Redwood Rd.
Saturday, June 18, 8:00 a.m. — noon
Jeanette Nichols, djaynichols@gmail.com; Maureen Lahiff, MLahiff@aol.com, 510.484.6529

We’ll look for House and Pacific Wrens that nest along Redwood Creek, as well as vireos, Pacific Slope Flycatchers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Wilson’s and Orange-crowned warblers.

Please enter the park via the Redwood Gate and drive to the parking area at the end of the paved road, the Canyon Meadow Staging Area. As we gather, please walk softly on the land, shutting car doors quietly and modulating conversation. (If your car alarm chirps, that’s unavoidable.)

The park gate opens at 8:00 am; there is a $5 parking fee unless you have a Regional Parks Foundation Membership. We’ll try to get on the trail by 8:15 for the best birding.

We’ll be walking through varied habitat on a mostly level trail, which is paved or hard-packed. The creek is burbling! Please bring a water bottle. There are restrooms and water at several points along the trail.

The Redwood Gate is on Redwood Road about 2 miles east of Skyline Boulevard. Take the Redwood Road exit from Highway 13 and head east (uphill). Go straight at the intersection with Skyline Blvd. Short URL for Redwood Gate is https://goo.gl/maps/EbfzufBTtLo


Valle Vista Staging Area, Upper San Leandro Reservoir, Moraga
Contra Costa County
Sunday, June 19, 8:00 a.m. — noon
Maureen Lahiff, MLahiff@aol.com, 510.484.6529 and Daryl Goldman, dagoldman@comcast.net

This EBMUD watershed land features a great variety of habitats: chaparral and scrub, grassland, pine-oak woodland, marsh, and a bit of open water. Summer possibilities: raptors, flycatchers, vireos, warblers, California Thrasher, nuthatches, wrens, hummingbirds, bluebirds, swallows, and the shy Wood Ducks.

Walking is on hard-packed trails, with some gentle up and down hill. There is a portable toilet at the staging area, but no drinking water.

On Google Maps; search for EBMUD Valle Vista Staging area. From CA 24, take the Orinda/Moraga exit and follow Moraga Way south. Moraga Way ends at a T. Turn right on Canyon Road. (The road going left is Moraga Road.) Drive a bit more than a mile on Canyon Road; the Staging Area is on the left. Short URL: https://goo.gl/maps/yW19ZoGysho 


Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco
Sunday, June 19, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
(Third Sunday bird walk)
David Assmann, David_Assmann@Yahoo.com

The focus will be on looking for nesting birds. Nesting birds could include Downy Woodpeckers and Hooded Oriole. We’ll also check out the Black Point Battery for flycatchers and warblers, and scan Aquatic Park for water birds.

Meet in front of the Community Garden to explore several different habitats in this compact part of GGNRA. Restroom in meadow, ample parking if there is no race on the waterfront (also easily accessible by transit). Heavy rain cancels. http://goo.gl/maps/RKZwU


 Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland
Wednesday, June 22, 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 

The cormorant rookery will be in full swing and June may see the start of the Canada Goose molt migration.

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. 


Lassen Volcanic National Park
Friday-Sunday, June 24,25,26
Dan and Joan Murphy   (415) 564-0074, Preferred means of communicating is by e-mail   murphsf@comcast.net

Join Dan and Joan on the annual GGAS family camping excursion to
Lassen.  In past years we have seen Black Swift, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Townsend’s Solitaire, Mountain Bluebird, Calliope Hummingbird, Black-backed Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker and many of the flycatchers, warblers and finches that breed in the mountains.

FRIDAY AND SUNDAY MORNINGS we will meet at the Manzanita Lake
Campground store at 7:00 a.m.  We will bird around the lake for 2-3
hours, return to camp for breakfast, then rendezvous again at the store at 10:45 a.m. for another outing.

FRIDAY we will take a leisurely hike of 3 to 5 miles on one of Lassen’s beautiful trails.  We may climb as much as 700′.  Wear sturdy shoes and bring lunch and liquids.  Suntan lotion, a hat, mosquito repellent and warm clothing may also be necessary.

SUNDAY we will drive through the park, making frequent stops for birding.  We usually stop birding and head for home or camp after lunch at Summit Lake Campground.

On SATURDAY, campers will meet by the camp store at 7:30 a.m. and caravan north to Burney Falls, Fall River Valley and Baum Lake. Those staying at the Hat Creek Resort can meet us at around 8:00 a.m. at the Vista Point about 12 miles north of Lassen on Hwys. 44 & 89.  Bring lunch and liquids.  Since this is a long and tiring day we suggest joining us for dinner at a local restaurant (if one is available) or for a picnic dinner. We’ll allow time to make a food and gas run into Burney.

Please contact us by e-mail or phone to let us know if you are planning to attend. We will know our campsite number by then, so we’ll let you know. We may have to cut off attendance if the group is larger than in past years.

DIRECTIONS:  From the Bay Area drive north on I-5 to its junction with Hwy. 44 in Redding.  Go east on Hwy. 44 to the northwest entrance of Lassen.  Camping facilities are available at the Manzanita Lake Campground. Loops A and C by reservation only, loops B and D on a first-come-first-served basis. Reservations can be made online at www.recreation.gov or by calling 877.444.6777.

Lodging is available about 15 mi. north of the park at Hat Creek Resort, Old Station [530] 335-7121.  Other information can be obtained from the park headquarters, Mineral, CA 96063.   [$ at Lassen and Burney Falls]

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.