Field Trips

November 1st, 2015

Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont
Sunday, November 29, 9:00 a.m. – noon
Maureen Lahiff,, 510.484.6529 

Coyote Hills is a favorite birding site because of its variety of habitats – marsh, grasslands, and the trees of Hoot Hollow. We’ll see Northern Harriers and wintering ducks, even if the marshes are dry. We’ll stop by the Nectar Garden at the Visitor’s Center at the end of our walk. We’ll walk about 3 miles on mostly flat, unpaved trails. Birders of all levels welcome; Coyote Hills can be rewarding for beginners. Meet near the parking area adjacent to the Visitors Center (at the end of the park entrance road).

Directions: From I-880, take Highway 84 west (signed for Dumbarton Bridge), exit at Paseo Padre Parkway, turn right, and drive north about one mile. Turn left on Patterson Ranch Road and drive to the parking lot at the end. Parking fee, if you don’t have an East Bay Regional Parks annual pass, is $5 per vehicle. Water is available and there are restrooms at the Visitor’s Center. There are nice picnic areas if you’d like to bring your lunch. Coyote Hills was featured on the GGAS blog in September 2015:


Tilden Nature Area, Berkeley
Friday, December 4, 8:30 — 10:30 a.m.
(First Friday bird walk)
Alan Kaplan, or (510) 526-7609 for messages.

Today’s theme is Winter Survival of Birds. Bring a used bird book or two to exchange or just give away (I’ve got several older editions to de-accession)! We’ll meet in the parking lot in front of the Environmental Education Center/Little Farm. Restrooms and water at the start and mid-way. Trail is flat (it would be nice if it was muddy, too!).


Biking and Birding in Corte Madera (Marin County)
Saturday, Dec 5, 2015, 9:30 a. m. — ~12:30-1 p.m.
Jeffrey Black, (510) 526-7068, and Pat Greene, (415) 481 5469,

We’ll cycle mostly off city streets on paved multiuser trails in Corte Madera and nearby towns stopping at marshes, creeks and ponds viewing ducks and shorebirds. Bring binoculars, field guides, snacks, and wear layered clothing. Call Pat if you want to borrow binoculars. Meet at Pixley Park (aka Corte Madera Park) at 9:30 a.m. Directions: from Berkeley or San Francisco: get onto Hwy 101 (south from the Richmond Bridge, north from SF) and exit Paradise/Tamalpais Drive; go west approximately 1/2 mile and turn right on Pixley Ave to the park entrance. This birding ride is co-listed with Grizzly Peak Cyclists. Helmets required. 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.


San Francisco Botanical Garden
Sunday, December 6, 8:00 — 10:30 a.m.
(First Sunday bird walk)
Dominik Mosur,; Allan Ridley,; Helen McKenna; Ginny Marshall,; Robert Cullison, (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.


Alan’s Second Friday Bird Walk

is not scheduled this month but check out our December 26, 2015 second annual “Hunt the Wren” Bird walk, listed below.


Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco
Sunday, December 13, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m. 
(Moved from third Sunday to avoid conflicting with Oakland CBC)
David Assmann,

Meet in front of the Community Garden to explore several different habitats in this compact part of GGNRA. This will be the beginning of winter, which means all our wintering species should be present, and the species count can be as high as 50.  We’ll explore Aquatic Park for 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). Heavy rain cancels. Please note that this field trip is on the 2nd Sunday of the month (normally it would be on the 3rd Sunday but it has been changed to avoid conflicting with the Oakland Christmas Bird Count). Google Map: 


Leona Canyon Regional Open Space Preserve, Oakland
Wednesday, December 16, 8:30 — 10:00 a.m.
(Third Wednesday bird walk)
Penn Hughes, or (510) 499-5491 for messages.

Raptors and passerines and ?. 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! Meet at the parking lot. I saw no bathrooms. Please, no dogs. Directions: (GPS Leona etc. above or) I-580 south to Keller Av. exit, left on Keller to Campus Drive, left on Campus Drive. Very shortly, right on Canyon Oaks, (private) and immediate left continuing on Canyon Oaks Drive. Keep going; the lot is marked and public.


Corona Heights, San Francisco
Friday, December 18, 8 – 10 a.m.
(Third Friday bird walk)
Brian Fitch; Dominik Mosur, (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. The leaders emphasize birding by ear and the minimal use of binoculars. Meet in front of the original Randall Museum building, 199 Museum Way, at the end of Museum Way off Roosevelt. Gather at the SE corner of the facility. 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:


Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland
Wednesday, December 23, 9:30 a.m. – noon
(Fourth Wednesday bird walk)
Hilary Powers, 510.834.1066,; Ruth Tobey, 510.528.2093,

We’re in the peak season for winter visitors to the lake and surrounding park! Come see which of the diving ducks are waiting out the season here, and get a good close look at the differences between Greater and Lesser Scaup. 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.


Tilden Nature Area, Berkeley
Saturday, December 26, 2015, 8: — 10:30 a.m.
(Second Annual “Hunt the Wren” Bird Walk!)
Alan Kaplan, or (510) 526-7609 for messages.

“The Wren, The Wren, the King of All Birds!” Wren Day folklore galore while we “hunt” with binoculars for our Pacific Wren. Meet in the parking lot in front of the Environmental Education Center/Little Farm. Refreshments for those who come a little early.

Restrooms and water at the start and mid-way. Trail is flat, but we might veer off and climb some steps in the woods.


Further Out

Yosemite’s Bird Life
Friday through Sunday, June 3 – 5, 2016
Dave Quady, (510) 704-9353 or,  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 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. Sign-ups begin at noon on November 16 – by email to only, please. (If you don’t own a computer, you can call Dave in advance of the registration date.) 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; 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:

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




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 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 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, which can be a convenient way to get reminders of each upcoming trip via email. See


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.