Field Trips

January 29th, 2015
San Francisco Botanical Garden
(First Sunday bird walk)
Sunday, February 1, 8 – 10:30 a.m.
Dominik Mosur,; Allan Ridley,; Helen McKenna, 415.566.3241; Ginny Marshall,; Kimberly Jannarone,; Robert Cullison, (Leaders vary by month.)

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. Meet at the front gate of the garden in Golden Gate Park, 9th Ave. at Lincoln Way. Entry is free before 9:00 AM. 


Tilden Park, Berkeley
(First Friday bird walk)
Friday, February 6, 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Alan Kaplan, or (510) 526-7609 for messages. We’ll anticipate Valentine’s Day with a Mating Strategies theme. We’ll walk down the road to Jewel Lake (flat, unlikely to be too muddy). Meet at the parking lot in front of the Environmental Education Center and Little Farm. Restrooms and water at the start and mid-way. No dogs in the Tilden Nature Area, please. 


Pt. Reyes, Marin County
Monday, February 9, 9:00 a.m. – Noon
Emilie Strauss, 510-540-8749 

We will walk about 1.5 miles up the Horse Trail in search of Pileated Woodpeckers that have been very active here in mid-January. We will gain about 300 feet in elevation. Other species include Hermit and Varied thrushes and the first singing Pacific Wrens.  We will look for flowering hazelnuts. This is a shady trail so bring some layers, and bring a lunch if you’d like to eat at the Bear Valley VC picnic tables after the outing. Rain cancels. Meet 9 am in front of the Bear Valley Visitor Center. 


Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland
Thursday, February 12, 9 – 11:30 a.m.
Gary and Chris Bard,, 510.301.2987

The shoreline offers excellent views of shorebirds, waders, and dabblers. The shoreline’s Arrowhead Marsh is the home of numerous Ridgway’s Rails. In winter, large rafts of scaup and goldeneye float offshore. Occasionally, raptors soar overhead. The walking is on flat ground.

Please bring a scope if you have one. Dress in layers. Rain cancels. Restroom is available near parking lot.

From I-880 south in Oakland, exit at Hegenberger Rd. Turn right onto Hegenberger, continue 0.7 mile across a small bridge over a channel, and turn right on Pardee Dr. Continue to Swan Way and turn left, then turn right into the park. Meet at parking lot at end of road. 


Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline, Pt. Richmond
(Second Friday bird walk)
Friday, February 13, 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Alan Kaplan, or (510) 526-7609.            Wish for herring and hope for Gull-a-palooza! As I write this in mid-January, a mini-Gull-a-palooza is going on at Bay Farm Island. Meet at the first parking lot after driving through the Tunnel in Point Richmond (past The Plunge) on Garrard Boulevard (street changes name to Dornan Drive at the park). Spotting scopes would be very welcome. Restrooms and water throughout the park. 


Stow Lake, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Saturday, February 14, 9:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Angie Geiger, 415 264-0069, 

It’s Valentine’s Day, so perhaps the Great Blue Herons will be courting. We will walk around the lake to observe the waterfowl and gulls wintering there and then take a hike up to the top of Strawberry Hill to look for songbirds. All birding levels are welcome. Light rain is ok, a severe storm will cancel.

We’ll meet on the lake side of the Boathouse. There is normally ample parking around the lake as well as a parking lot by the Boathouse. Take Stow Lake Dr. (one way) from Martin Luther King Drive in Golden Gate Park. If you need directions, please email the leader. A restroom is available.


Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline and beyond by bicycle, Oakland
Saturday, February 14 10 a.m. – ~2:30 p.m.
Jeffrey Black, (510) 526-7068, and Pat Greene, cell day of ride (415) 481-5469, 

This Coliseum BART to Lake Merritt BART ride is about 20 miles of flat cycling on paved trails and city streets. Shortcuts are possible. Beginning birders are welcome. We will enter the shoreline at the end of 66th Ave (Zhone Way), stop at Arrowhead Marsh, then proceed to the Alameda shoreline to view wintering ducks and shorebirds. Bring binoculars and lunch (or can buy nearby); wear warm layered clothes. Restrooms are located in the BART stations and at Arrowhead Marsh. This birding ride is co-listed with Grizzly Peak Cyclists.

Meet at 10 a.m. near the ticket machines at the Coliseum BART Station (Leaders plan to arrive on the BART train scheduled to arrive at 9:52 a.m.). Rain Cancels.


Sacramento River Delta with Dolphin Charters
Sunday, February 15,  8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bruce Mast 

NOTE: This trip is now full. Dolphin Charters has added an extra Delta trip on Friday February 13 that is open to the general public. To find out about the February 13 trip, contact Dolphin Charters directly at

We are also offering a Napa River boat trip on March 21 that still has openings. See the March trips below for details and registration. 

Tour the Delta on board the comfortable Dolphin Charters boat to explore the area’s rich habitats and see thousands of Tundra Swan, Snow Geese, White-fronted Geese, and Canada Geese, plus myriad ducks and overwin­tering and resident raptors. This popular annual trip, which departs from the Antioch marina, is limited to 25 participants. Cost is $90 for GGAS members and $100 for non-members.

Confirmed participants will receive directions to the marina and other instructions about a week before the trip. 


Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco
(Third Sunday bird walk)
Sunday, February 15, 8 – 10 a.m.
Carlo Arreglo subbing for David Assmann ( 

In February we’ll try to find this year’s special overwintering species, which include Orchard Oriole, Wilson’s Warbler, and Nashville Warbler. The morning high tide at 7:58 means we’ll have a good chance of finding Wandering Tattlers, and we’ll look for ducks, grebes and loons as well at Aquatic Park. Four woodpecker species should be in the park. We’ll also look for the earliest of our migrants – the Allen’s Hummingbird, which shows up by February.

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. 


Blake House Garden, Kensington 
(Third Wednesday bird walk)
Wednesday February 18,  8:30am – 10:00am.  
Penn Hughes, or (510) 499-5491 for messages.                 

Wintering garden birds, views of San Francisco Bay. GPS or go to Marin Circle in Berkeley, and then proceed on The Arlington, north toward Kensington, through the town center to Rincon Road, which angles off The Arlington to the left. It is 2.4 miles, estimated 7 minutes from Marin Circle to Blake House. The house and garden, and parking, are all on the left of Rincon Road, at 70 Rincon Road. Restrooms available. Please, no dogs.


Corona Heights, San Francisco
(Third Friday bird walk)
Friday, February 20, 8 – 10 a.m.
Brian Fitch; Dominik Mosur, (Leaders vary by month.) 

Meet in front of the Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, at the end of Museum Way off Roosevelt. 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. Google map: 


Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland
Garretson Point to Arrowhead Marsh and back
Saturday, February 21, 9:00 am to 12:30 pm
Maureen Lahiff,, 510.484.6529 

We’ll meet at Garretson Point, see who’s in the seasonal wetland across from the parking lot, then walk to the bridge over Damon Slough, where the tide will be out, to see shorebirds feeding on the mudflats. Then we’ll head towards Arrowhead Marsh, enjoying the ducks and grebes along the way, along with sparrows and wintering Yellow-rumped Warblers. Double-crested Cormorants, egrets, and Great Blue Herons will be feeding and hanging out, along with Brown Pelicans. We may hear the Ridgway’s Rails at Arrowhead Marsh.

This is a great place to see at least some of the birds fairly close up, and a rewarding place to bird for both beginners and experienced folks. It’s a great place for families, as they can easily leave the trip at any time the kids (or adults) have had enough for the day. We’ll walk a total of about 3 miles on paved, level pathway, watching out for the runners and bicyclists.

There are restrooms and water available near Garretson Point and at Arrowhead Marsh.

The parking lot at Garretson Point is reached from Edgewater Drive off Hegenberger Road. From I-880, take Hegenberger towards the Oakland Airport. Edgewater Drive has a stoplight. It’s the first right turn if you are coming from I-880. Take Edgewater to the end. (Coffee stop in the little shopping center immediately after you turn onto Edgewater.) Google Maps link:


Aquatic Park and Waterfront, San Francisco
Saturday, February 21, 10 – 11:30 a.m.
Carol Kiser, 415.447.5000  

On this walk for children and beginners, and all others, we will look for resident and migrating birds. Meet at the entrance to the Hyde Street Pier at Hyde and Jefferson on the western border of Fisherman’s Wharf. Nearby parking is at the foot of Van Ness Ave. (free for 4 hours), Ghirardelli Square, and the Anchorage. Dress in layers, wear wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen, and bring binoculars and guide books if you have them.  (We can provide binoculars and books if you don’t). 


Upper San Leandro Reservoir, near Moraga, Contra Costa County
Sunday, February 22, 8:30 a.m. – Noon
Steve and Carol Lombardi, cell 925/785-0130, 

The varied habitat of this charming area should provide good looks at lots of resident and migrant birds, including Wood Ducks, if we’re lucky. The habitat here includes chaparral, oak woodland, a stand of pines, grassland, riparian, and, of course, the reservoir. So we should see a good variety of both land and water birds. Birders of all skill levels are welcome. Bring binoculars if you have them. We’ll walk about three miles on mainly level dirt roads and trails and there will be opportunities to bail out, if you wish.

Meet at the Valle Vista staging area about one mile west of Moraga on Canyon Rd. From Hwy 24, exit at Orinda. Take Moraga Way 5.5 miles south to Moraga. Turn right (west) at Canyon Rd. (note that Canyon is named Moraga Rd. to the left). Go 1.2 miles to the Valle Vista parking lot on your left. Google Maps link: Portapotty in the parking area; no water. 


Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland
(Fourth Wednesday bird walk)
Wednesday, February 25, 9:30 a.m. – noon
Hilary Powers, 510.834.1066,; Ruth Tobey, 510.528.2093, 

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.

Still the high season at Lake Merritt; all the best birds have arrived and almost none have left, though the Barrow’s Goldeneyes may be hanging out at the other end of the lake.

Public transit: Take the 12, N, or NL bus to Grand and Perkins, and walk into the park on Perkins. Driving: While the boathouse lot near the spherical cage is closed for wetlands restoration, the best parking is 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.




Chain of Lakes, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Saturday, March 14, 9:00 – 11:30
Angie Geiger, 415 264-0069,

The Chain of Lakes has three distinct lakes, a variety of vegetation and has been known for some interesting migrants. We will look for year-round residents, wintering birds, and anything unusual. All birding levels are welcome. A restroom is available at North Lake. Light rain is ok, a severe storm will cancel.

Let’s meet at the parking lot at Middle Lake. Take Chain of Lakes Dr. (41st Ave. off of Lincoln Way on the south side of the park and 43rd Ave. off of Fulton St. on the North side of GGP.) If you need directions, please email the leader. 


Dolphin Charters, Napa River boat trip (departs from Vallejo)
Saturday, March 21, 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM
GGAS Leader: Dominik Mosur

Journey up the Napa River to a world of hidden backwaters and wildlife that you would never see from the highway! Starting at the historic Vallejo waterfront, you’ll view numerous Osprey nests at Mare Island. Then you’ll move into a world of vineyards, backwater homes and some of the largest contiguous marshes in the Bay Area. See Osprey, egrets, diving ducks and grebes, and learn about one of the largest tidal marsh restoration projects in the country.

Trip costs $75 for GGAS members or $85 for non-members. Click here to register online. Confirmed participants will receive directions to the marina and other instructions about a week before the trip.

Honey Lake and Greater Sage-Grouse (Lassen County)
Saturday and Sunday, March 21-22
Dave Quady, (510) 704-9353 or

Lassen County in March offers the chance to enjoy Greater Sage-Grouse displaying on a lek, many wintering raptors and waterfowl, a few spring migrants, and a spectacular setting for seeking northeast California’s resident birds. This trip is limited to 20 participants.

Sign-ups begin at noon on February 9 – only by email to, please. Detailed directions will be provided soon thereafter. Trip is free but participants must arrange their own lodging, transportation, and food. Susanville provides convenient, comfortable lodging; Honey Lake State Wildlife Area provides primitive camping. Plan to bring warm clothing, lunches for both days, and a scope if you have one. Carpooling encouraged. 


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.

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 between December 20, 2014 and May 10, 2015. This trip is from 9 am -12 pm 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.


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. There is also a Meetup page that lists birding walks and events throughout the Bay Area: