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

April 1st, 2016

Chain of Lakes, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Sunday, May 1, 8:30 — 11:30 a.m.
Bonnie Brown and Mitch Youngman
mitchyoungman@gmail.com (415) 279-3378-day of walk only

Join us as we look for spring arrivals, any remaining winter residents and our favorite year-round locals, along with any nesting activity, while circling Chain of Lakes on mostly paved foot paths. Bring binoculars and your best spotting skills, all levels welcome. Severe weather cancels but a light rain is still a go. Restrooms and a water fountain are located by North Lake on JFK Drive along our route.

Let’s meet at the parking lot adjacent to South Lake. Take Chain of Lakes Drive into the park off of Lincoln @ 41st or Fulton @ 43rd.


San Francisco Botanical Garden
Sunday, May 1, 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.


 First Friday Walks: Special; two walks this month. Read the following trip descriptions carefully for time and meeting place.


Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley
Friday, May 6, 5:30 — 7:30 a.m.
(First Friday bird walk #1)
Alan Kaplan, LNKPLN@earthlink.net or (510) 526-7609 for messages.

The Dawn Chorus is our theme for this early-bird trip. We’ll walk around to the Blue Gum Gate entrance to Tilden Nature Area, and along the Loop Road. Western Wood-pewee, Olive-sided Flycatcher and other returnees are likely songsters.

Meet at the foot of Cañon Drive in Tilden Regional Park (turn right at the bottom of Cañon Drive, park at the stone restroom at Big Leaf picnic site). Restroom at start and in the Nature Area. Water on the Loop Road and at Little Farm.


Tilden Nature Area, Berkeley
Friday, May 6, 8:30 — 10:30 a.m.
(First Friday bird walk #2, our regular walk)
Alan Kaplan, LNKPLN@earthlink.net or (510) 526-7609 for messages.

Today’s theme: The Genius of Birds, by Jennifer Ackerman, with emphasis on “vocal learning”.

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


Mitchell Canyon, Mount Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County
Saturday, May 7, 8:30 a.m. to noon
Maureen Lahiff, MLahiff@aol.com, 510.484.6529

There’s great “parking lot birding” here. On the trail, we’ll hear and see warblers – Orange-crowned and Wilsons and possibly Nashville, Black-throated Gray, Townsend’s, Hermit, and MacGillivray’s. Good chances for Hutton’s and Warbling vireos, and flycatchers: Olive-sided and Ash-throated easier to find than Empidonax.

We’ll walk out and back, about 4 miles total, mostly on the Mitchell Canyon Nature Trail, which is mostly level. Our hike begins in oak savannah and soon enters the riparian community along Mitchell Creek. This trail is famous for wildflowers, including the rare endemic Mount Diablo globe lily (also called fairy lantern).

Meet in the parking lot at the end of Mitchell Canyon Road in Clayton. Google Maps link http://goo.gl/maps/iBbWz. Take CA 24 or I-680 to Ygnacio Valley Road.  After about 8 miles, turn right on Clayton Road. Turn right again on Mitchell Canyon Road and continue to the end. Contact Maureen if you have questions.

Parking fee at Mitchell Canyon is $6 per vehicle; $5 if you’re at least 62 years old. Restrooms and water are available at the Staging Area. Please bring water to carry on the trail.


Napa Ecological Reserve, Yountville
Monday, May 9, 2016. 8:00 a.m. — 3:00 p.m.
Emilie Strauss, desertpeach@earthlink.net

We will bird at the reserve for about an hour listening for Black-headed Grosbeak and other nesting species. We will then proceed to nearby sites and end at the Bothe Napa Valley State Park (entry fee). After an early lunch, we will hike all or some of a 4 mile trail in search of Pileated Woodpeckers. Trip will end at about 3:00 PM so we can beat traffic home.

We will meet at the Napa ecological reserve (NER) parking lot. Toilet but no water.

Bring binoculars, hiking shoes, lunch, water. We may bird a nearby reservoir so bring a scope if you own one.

The NER is at 1700-1798 Yountville Cross Road, Napa. Note that the formal address is Napa but the NER is about a mile north of Yountville.



Mitchell Canyon, Mount Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County
Tuesday, May 10, 8:00 — 11:30 a.m.
Anne Hoff, anne2210b@sbcglobal.net

This trip is CANCELLED. (Trip leader Anne Hoff broke her foot. Heal quickly and smoothly, Anne!)



Briones Regional Park, near Orinda
Friday, May 13, 8:30 — 11:00am
Second Friday Birdwalk
Rusty Scalf, rscalf@sonic.net or 510-495-5837 

NOTE: Alan Kaplan has retired from leading the second Friday walk; his first Friday walks continue as usual. The leaders of the second Friday walk will vary by month.

Lazuli Bunting, Chipping Sparrow and Meadowlark should be present. We’ll walk up to the corral where Lark Sparrow has been seen in June in the past. Any late-spring wildflowers will be a plus!

Enter from Bear Creek Road; parking fee may apply; drive past the entrance kiosk to the further parking lot. Water and restrooms at the start. http://www.ebparks.org/Assets/_Nav_Categories/Parks/Maps/Briones+map.pdf 


El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area, El Cerrito
Sunday, May 15th, 8:30 — 10:00 a.m.
Tara McIntire, taramcintire@yahoo.com
RSVP Required, see below.

Come climb and explore the 90-acre El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area with its magnificent views and grasslands covered with beautiful, native, tangled oak forests, creeks and BIRDS! This is an urban gem and home to a wonderful and diverse mix of birds and habitats.  The terrain can be steep and difficult at times.  Please wear sturdy shoes with good traction.

We will meet promptly at 8:30am at the Schmidt Lane entry (near the Recycling Center) and return by 10:00am. This will be the beginning and end point of the bird walk. There is on street parking. The walk will be limited to 15 participants. Please RSVP to Tara at taramcintire@yahoo.com.


Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco
Sunday, May 15, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
(Third Sunday bird walk)
David Assmann, David_Assmann@Yahoo.com

May can bring a surprise migrant, and there should still be migrating flycatchers, vireos and warblers moving through. 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.

May 15th is the day for Bay to Breakers so keep that in mind when coming across town to Fort Mason.

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. Google Map at http://goo.gl/maps/RKZwU


Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, 2777 Middle Harbor Road, Oakland
Wednesday, May 18, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
(Third Wednesday bird walk)
Penn Hughes, penn.hughes@att.net or (510) 499-5491 for messages.

Shore birds, ducks, terns, gulls, pelicans, passing passerines. 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!

(GPS or) Take N. I-880 to 7th Street exit, left onto 7th at the bottom of the freeway interchange exit ramp. South on I-880 is from the Frontage Road; right on 7th. (Alternately, drive to West Oakland Post Office, the big one, and keep going on 7th to the same freeway interchange.) Continue on 7th Street, through the port area. 1 mile from the interchange, at a stoplight, the street name changes to Middle Harbor Road where 7th Street turns right. Middle Harbor Park may be reached from 7th Street (left turn) or from Middle Harbor Road (right turn). Meet at LEFT parking lot in Middle Harbor Park (near the Naturalist’s trailer). Many restrooms. Please, no dogs. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/vTJ4HytmBjN2.


Corona Heights, San Francisco
Friday, May 20, 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 


UCSF Mt Sutro Open Space Reserve. San Francisco
Sunday, May 22, 8:30 – ~11 a.m.
Pat Greene, (415) 566-6637, cell (415) 481-5469, pjgreene@sonic.net

Meet at Woods Lot, 100 Medical Center Way, at 8:30. We’ll walk ~2 miles, with gradual climbs and descents on mostly well-graded trails, with a few rocky spots (http://sutrostewards.org/page/trail-map). We may see migrants, and the summer birds should be active. The reserve is the focus of a new push to manage the ‘forest’ for greater habitat diversity in the future (http://goldengateaudubon.org/blog-posts/a-setback-and-new-opportunity-for-mount-sutro/).We will be accompanied by staff from the Sutro Stewards Native Plant Nursery, who will talk to us about their program of conversion planting in openings in the forest. The Sutro Stewards ask for a voluntary donation of $5-25 to help support their work.

Directions to the start:  Driving directions to the Woods Lot: from Clarendon, turn on Johnstone Drive into UCSF Aldea Housing, turn R on Medical Center Way, and continue downhill to a wooden shelter for the UCSF Shuttle Stop; turn right into Woods Lot. Nearest restroom is at the 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 (enter UCSF at the Irving entrance and take the elevator to Parnassus. The 43, 6 and 66 buses stop on Parnassus. Then hike uphill on Medical Center Way to a stairway on the left that leads to the Surge Lot, continue uphill through this lot to the Woods Lot entrance.

Please rsvp by email to Pat, pjgreene@sonic.net, for updates, since UCSF occasionally changes our access.


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.



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.

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.


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.