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

September 23rd, 2016
Soar with the Raptors on Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands
Tuesday, September 27, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Bob Power, rcpower@sbcglobal.net

Experience the peak of raptor migration with a chance at ten Raptor species and more. Sharpen your accipiter i.d. skills and have a decent chance to spot Broad-winged Hawks. Heavy fog cancels.

Directions from the East Bay: Hwy 580 to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to Sir Francis Drake Blvd and 101 southbound. Take the last exit before the Golden Gate Bridge (Alexander Ave), turn left at the bottom of the exit and make an immediate right onto Conzelman Rd. Drive 1.5 miles and park below Hawk Hill. We’ll meet at the observation area at the top of the hill.

Directions from San Francisco: Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and take the Alexander Ave. exit. Turn left at the bottom of the exit and turn right on Conzelman Rd. in approx. 1/4 mile. Drive 1.5 miles and park below Hawk Hill. We’ll meet at the observation area at the top of the hill.

Directions on line: http://www.parksconservancy.org/visit/trip-planner.html?to=Hawk+Hill:309823924

 

Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland
Wednesday, September 28, 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 

It’s the end of summer and the quiet time, but there’s always someone to see at the lake and in the park around it.

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.

 

San Francisco Botanical Garden
Sunday, October 2, 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
Friday, October 7, 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.

Continuing our Breeding Bird Atlases of the Greater Bay Area: history and discoveries theme, today we’ll do the North Bay atlases (Marin, Sonoma I and II, Napa and Solano).

Restrooms and water at the start and mid-way. Easy walk down to Jewel Lake and back again.

 

Joaquin Miller Park, 3590 Sanborn Drive, Oakland
Friday, October 14, 8:30 – 11:00 a.m.
(Second Friday bird walk)
Maria Sabatini, mmsquash@aol.com(510) 914-5304 (leaders vary by month)

Meet at the parking lot next to the Ranger Station (restrooms, water fountain).  We will leisurely hike a 1.25 mile loop on paved and dirt trails, passing through oak woodlands and native Coast Redwoods. All levels of experience welcome as we look for the Park’s resident and migrant birds. The trail surface is uneven in places with rocks and roots, and there are mild elevation changes, with only a few short climbs/descents of moderate grade. Optional post-hike carpool trip from 11:00 a.m. to noon:  a quick one and a half mile drive to the Fern Ravine Wetland Restoration site (maps will be provided). This site is at a higher elevation in the Park, and more easily accessed by vehicle.

Public Transportation: AC Transit Bus 39. Driving: Take the Lincoln Avenue/ Joaquin Miller Road exit  off Highway 13 and drive east or uphill on Joaquin Miller Road  8/10 mile to park entrance on the left.  Continue a short distance to the Ranger Station. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/yvb4kcuP4LF2

 

Point Isabel to Meeker Slough, Richmond
Saturday, October 15, 9:00 a.m . — noon
Cathy Bleier, 510-527-2327 or 510-414-5719 (cell); csbleier@sbcglobal.net.

Walk 2.5-3 miles along the east Bay Trail shoreline, tidal marshes and sloughs. Ducks, shorebirds, possible migrant passerines, and raptors, and Ridgway Rail if we’re lucky. A rising tide for our walk (4 ft to 6 feet). Bring binoculars. Take Central Avenue exit west off Hwy 580, turn north on Rydin Road and park at very end on street or in parking lot (next to dog park). The lot fills up, so car pooling is helpful. There will be lots of weekend bikers along our walk, too. Meet right outside northeast corner of dog park (where there are restrooms). Heavy rain cancels. If in doubt, call my cell phone before coming. Feel free to call or email any questions.

 

Las Gallinas Ponds, San Rafael
Sunday, October 16, 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.  One never knows what they might see or hear, but it’s a good place to find Green Herons, and look for the Least Bittern which continues to be spotted.   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.  Port-a-potty at the parking lot.  Google Maps link https://goo.gl/maps/ 7t2hvDMMBWQ2

 

Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco
Sunday, October 16, 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 fall migration will be almost done, there could still be  flycatchers, vireos, warblers and sparrows coming through.  The garden should have a variety of land birds, and there may still be flycatchers, vireos and sparrows in the Battery. This is the time for surprise birds (last year it was a Canada Warbler).  We’ll scan Aquatic Park for water birds and rocky shorebirds.   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 

 

Vollmer Peak Trail, Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley
Tuesday October 18, 7:30 — 10:30 a.m.
Emilie Strauss, desertpeach@earthlink.net

We will search for late migrants and California thrasher. Expect to walk about 3 miles including some elevation change and rocky fire roads. Bring snacks and water. We will bird for about three hours.

Get yourself to the Redwood Valley Railway (Tilden steam trains) parking lot at Grizzly Peak Blvd/Lomas Contadas in south Tilden. Turn left off Lomas Contadas toward the steam trains parking lot, but continue past the main parking lot and turn left into the “steam trains overflow/trailhead parking lot” (brown wooden sign). Portapotty but no water at parking lot. EBRPD Map: http://www.ebparks.org/Assets/_Nav_Categories/Parks/Maps/Tilden+map.pdf

 

Penn Hughes’ Third Wednesday walk will return. Penn is taking off October, possibly November, and December to help his wife run for Oakland city council. 

 

Corona Heights, San Francisco
Friday, October 21, 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 

 

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.

 

 

Further Out


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

THIS FIELD TRIP IS DESIGNED FOR CHILDREN AGES 8 AND UP – CHILDREN WITH EITHER NO EXPERIENCE BIRDING OR LIMITED 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 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

 

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

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.

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

Click here to register online. Once the trip is full, there will be a waiting list in case there are cancellations.

 

 



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.