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

August 24th, 2016
Snag Lake Backpack Trip, Lassen Volcanic National Park
Friday – Monday, August 26-29
Robin Pulich; David Rice, 510.527.7210, drice2@comcast.net

On this annual camping and birding trip to Lassen, we will backpack 3 miles to Snag Lake and spend three nights in primitive camping by a stream near a large meadow. We should see flocks of mixed warblers and other songbirds, plus resident birds of the mountains, Bald Eagles, and migrating shorebirds. We will be above 6,000 feet. To avoid impact on the fragile habitat, the trip is limited to 10 people. Participants are responsible for their own gear and food. Contact David Rice to reserve a space.


Hayward Shoreline, Alameda County
Sunday, August 28, 8:00 a.m. — Noon
Rusty Scalf, rscalf@sonic.net

This is a car shuttle trip. Read the description carefully before you come.

We will walk from the end of Grant to the end of Winton along the San Francisco Bay Trail, a distance of about 2.3 miles, looking for shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors, and birds of the open water and open fields. We expect early shorebird migrants, some still in breeding plumage.

Meet at the East Bay Regional Park District parking lot at the VERY end of Winton Ave. in Hayward, where we will leave some of our cars (don’t stop at the park office; continue through the gate and park in the lot that dead-ends at the trail). Those who leave cars will ride with others to the end of Grant Ave. in San Leandro (a short, easy drive; maps will be provided). Walking is on wide, flat, unpaved roads. Beginners welcome. Bring your binoculars and a scope, if you have one. Google Maps link to Winton Ave. meeting spot: https://goo.gl/maps/rxUBp


Tilden Park, Berkeley
Friday, September 2, 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.
Today’s theme is Breeding Bird Atlases of the Greater Bay Area: history and discoveries. Today we’ll do the southern portion and East Bay atlases. Restrooms and water at the start and mid-way. Easy walk down to Jewel Lake and back again.


Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, Oakland
Saturday September 3, 9:00a.m. – 12 p.m.
Maureen Lahiff, MLahiff@aol.com , 510.484.6529

Celebrate World Shorebirds Day!

Fall migration continues! Breeding season is over. Shorebirds that breed in the Arctic and many of those that breed at more temperate latitudes are on the move.

This birding hotspot is in the midst of the Port of Oakland, at the end of 7th Street. We will be walking on level, paved paths, with some walking on sand above the tideline.Bring lots of water, sunscreen, and hats. The parking area does have restrooms.

Google Maps link for Middle Harbor is https://goo.gl/maps/ZnpWv For more information, please visit the Port of Oakland website: http://www.portofoakland.com/community/


Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility, Petaluma
Saturday, September 3,  
9 am – 12 noon
Emilie Strauss. desertpeach@earthlink.net

Located south of Petaluma, this place has a series of birdy ponds that we believe will be undergoing their traditional September drawdown. In past Septembers, mud edges produced during drawdown attracted easily visible Sora and Pectoral Sandpiper. Depending on the water level, we will expect ducks, shorebirds, herons, raptors, and land birds.  Expect 2-3 miles flat walking. Bring a scope if you have one. Meet at the Ellis Creek water recycling facility in the parking lot and near the bathroom. From Highway 101 in Petaluma. go east on 116 (Lakeville Highway) then turn right (south) on South Mcdowell. Turn right on Cypress Drive. Go to the end of the road and through the gate. Parking is to the left.


San Francisco Botanical Garden
Sunday, September 4, 8 — 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.


Crab Cove and Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, Alameda
Monday, September 5, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (because of tides)
Maureen Lahiff, MLahiff@aol.com , 510.484.6529

Celebrate World Shorebirds Day!

We’ll be walking short distances on level, mostly paved paths, so this trip is accessible for birders with mobility limitations.Come into Alameda via the Webster Street Tube; you’ll be on Webster Avenue. Take Webster until it ends at Central Avenue. Turn right on Central and then take the first left onto McKay Avenue at the Crab Cove Visitors Center sign. We’ll meet at the end of McKay, just past the Crab Cove Visitors Center. Since it’s Labor Day, park on Central if you can’t part on McKay. To make the most of our time to bird, we’ll drive from Crab Cove to the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary at the other end of Crown Memorial Beach, even though parking will be a challenge there, too.

Bring water and sun protection. Spotting scopes welcome and appreciated. Restrooms and water available at the Crab Cove Visitors Center and along Shoreline Drive.

Google Maps link for the Crab Cove Visitor Center is https://goo.gl/maps/NecZ1 


Joaquin Miller Park, Oakland
Friday, September 9, 8:30 – 11 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.  Street address is 3590 Sunburn Drive. Continue a short distance to the Ranger Station. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/yvb4kcuP4LF2


Corona Heights, San Francisco
Friday, September 16, 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 


Coastal San Francisco
Saturday, September 17, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Dan and Joan Murphy, cell 415 342-7306, murphsf@comcast.net 

We will bird the Chain-of-Lakes, then drive to other locations that may or may not include other spots in Golden Gate Park, Land’s End, the Presidio, the Cliff House, Fort Funston and Lake Merced. In the past we have seen a large variety of migrating flycatchers, vireos, warblers, sparrows and finches. We may see some of the early hawk migration as well. As we write this in mid-August we are experiencing a more normal migratory season than last year with it’s incredibly early migration. By the 17th we should have a nice number of migrants, much more like a normal migratory year. We plan to end the day between 2 and 3 at Lake Merced.

Meet at 8:00 a.m. in the parking lot between South Lake and Middle Lake in Golden Gate Park. From 41st and Lincoln it is just past the second stop sign on Chain-of-Lakes Drive. From Kennedy Dr. going west, turn left at Chain-of-Lakes Drive and drive just past the lake to the left to the parking lot. Wear layers for variable coastal weather. Bring lunch and liquids. Since we will not finish the trip where we start, it would be best to make carpool arrangements with that in mind.

If you want more information please feel free to e-mail Joan and Dan. On the morning of the trip, Dan will have his cell phone on after 7:45. He probably won’t answer after we start birding. Please be sure to check the GGAS web site for last minute changes to this trip. We just don’t know what might be going on in Golden Gate Park that day, so we need to be flexible.


Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco
Sunday, September 18, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
(Third Sunday bird walk)
Erica Rutherford and John Colbert subbing this month for David. John’s email: eastbaybirding@gmail.com

Meet in front of the Community Garden to explore several different habitats in this compact part of GGNRA. Migration should be in full swing, with flycatchers, vireos, warblers, and sparrows coming through. The garden should have a variety of land birds, and there may be flycatchers, vireos and sparrows in the Battery. We’ll scan Aquatic Park for water birds and rocky shorebirds. Migration can always bring surprises – last year we had a Dickcissel on this walk. 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


Dimond Park and Sausal Creek, Oakland
Wednesday, September 21, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
(Third Wednesday bird walk)
Penn Hughes, penn.hughes@att.net or (510) 499-5491 for messages. 

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. This time, the lower creek area truly IS restored. We will look there, and then pass through the playground area, and hike a short distance up Sausal Creek. 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!


Vaux’s Swifts at McNear Brickyard, Marin County
Wednesday, September 21, 5:45 – 7:30 p.m.
Rusty Scalf, rscalf@sonic.net

Vaux’s Swifts migrate south along the Pacific Flyway each fall, and one of their few known stopping points in Northern California is the McNear Brickyard in San Rafael. At sunset on many September and October evenings, as many as 19,000 swifts mass and fly into the decommissioned brickyard chimneys to spend the night.  It’s an unforgettable sight! GGAS instructor Rusty Scalf discovered this overnight roost several years ago and now work with other GGAS volunteers to monitor the numbers of roosting swifts.  Click here to read and view photos of the 2014 swift season at McNear on our blog.

To respect both the swifts and the McNear property owners, this trip is limited to 40 people. Click here to register online. (The trip is free but registration is required. There will be a waiting list once the trip is full, but please do NOT register unless you definitely plan to attend!)  Carpooling is strongly encouraged since there is very little parking.

We will send you directions and parking instructions by email about a week before the trip. Keep in mind that the number of swifts varies greatly from night to night, and can range from a few hundred to over 10,000. Like everything else in birding, there are no guarantees!


Chain of Lakes, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Sunday, September 25, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Bonnie Brown & Mitch Youngman, mitchyoungman@gmail.com

Migration is underway as we write and will be in full swing for this walk in the park on mostly paved trails. As always, we’ll be looking for our year-round residents and the last of our summer visitors while keeping our eyes peeled for the unusual migrant trying to slip through unobserved. This is a learning-through-birding walk and all levels are welcome. Restrooms and water fountain located near North Lake.

We’ll meet at the parking lot adjacent to South Lake across the street from Bercut Equestrian Field; enter Chain of Lakes Drive in Golden Gate Park at 41st off of Lincoln Way or 43rd off of Fulton St. 


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.


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.