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

June 1st, 2017
Hilltop Lake Park, Richmond
Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 9:00 — 10:45 a.m.
Cathy Bleier, 510-414-5719 (cell); csbleier@sbcglobal.net.

Let’s see what June brings to the lake. Easy, flat 0.75 mile walk around Hilltop Lake in Richmond, a freshwater pond surrounded by willows, cattails, and native and ornamental trees and shrubs.   We see woodland, grassland and wetland species such as chestnut-backed chickadee,  towhees, swallows, oak titmouse, one to several woodpecker species, Anna’s and maybe nesting Allen’s hummingbirds, belted kingfisher, maybe orioles and perhaps baby Coots and Pied-billed Grebes, if we’re lucky.  Check out ebird bar chart for this location at: http://ebird.org/ebird/barchart?byr=1900&eyr=2017&bmo=1&emo=12&r=L1405454

If you’re coming from Highway 80, take Richmond Parkway exit west off highway 80 (east from San Pablo Ave.), turn on to Lakeside Drive and then your immediate first left into the YMCA parking lot.   Follow the arrows (parts of the lot are one-way) to the left down to lower parking lot and then up again and turn left to the far end of the lot at the entrance to the park.  Carpool if you can since most of the lot belongs to the Y.   Please bring binoculars.   Heavy rain cancels.  Feel free to call or email any questions.


Corona Heights, San Francisco
Friday, June 16, 8 — 10 a.m.
(Third Friday bird walk)
Brian Fitch, fogeggs@gmail.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


Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, Oakland
Saturday, June 17, 2017  9 a.m. — 12:30 p.m.
Cathy Bleier, 510-414-5719 (cell), csbleier@sbcglobal.net

Come join me in June for my Christmas Bird Count route.  We will walk about 2-1/3 miles through woodland, chaparral and grasslands with some ups and downs.  We’ll look for Rufous-crowned and Lark Sparrows, Lazuli Buntings, woodpeckers, nuthatches, California Thrasher and (hope for) Golden Eagle.  Meet in the parking lot at 6800 Skyline Blvd, one-tenth mile (~500 ft) south of the junction of Grizzly Peak Blvd (southeast of Highway 24) and Skyline Blvd. Restrooms and water at the start.   Please bring binoculars.  Could be East Bay summer cool or could be warm, so water and a hat are advisable.  Heavy rain cancels.  There’s a bathroom at the parking lot. Email or call if you have questions. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/fokJARV8Yg82


Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco
Sunday, June 18, 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. June’s walk comes after migration has ended, so our focus will be on nesting birds and year round residents.  If we’re lucky and Hooded Orioles or Red-Masked Parakeets have nested, we’ll be looking for fledglings. Young Lesser Goldfinches should be in the garden.  We’ll also check out the Black Point Battery, and scan Aquatic Park for water birds. Restroom in meadow, ample parking if there is no race on the waterfront (also easily accessible by transit). 


Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, 2777 Middle Harbor Road, Oakland
Wednesday, June 21, 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 


Mono Lake (Eastern Sierra)
GGAS Centennial Field Trip
Thursday evening June 22 – Sunday afternoon June 25
George Peyton & Bob Lewis

This trip is now FULL but you may register to be on the waiting list.

Golden Gate Audubon played a lead role in the successful battle to save Mono Lake from excessive water diversions in the 1980s. Learn about that inspiring history, along with the iconic geography and natural history of the area, while viewing the bird life. (Mono Lake is a crucial refueling stop for hundreds of thousands of phalaropes and other shorebirds during migration, and home to North America’s largest nesting population of California Gulls.)

Logistics: Arrive by Thursday evening. On Friday we’ll bird areas around the lake for species including Green-tailed Towhee, Sagebrush Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, and nesting Cliff Swallows. On Saturday, we’ll bird higher elevations in the nearby eastern Sierra. On Sunday, we’ll do a half-day trip to Bodie State Historical Park, a great spot to see Sage Grouse.

Friday evening dinner will be a potluck on the grounds of the Lake View Lodge, with wine provided by George. (Bring your contribution in a cooler). We’ll eat dinner at the Mobil Cafe on Saturday, with George again hosting the wine. Thursday night dinner is on your own.

Participants are responsible for their own accommodations, meals, and transportation. Once you register, we will provide a list of local lodging options.  Meet each morning in the parking lot of Nicely’s restaurant, where participants may purchase breakfast. About a month before the trip, George will provide details on logistics and on the potluck.

Limited to 15 people. Click here to register for the waiting list.


Lassen Volcanic National Park
Friday-Sunday, June 23, 24, 25
Dan and Joan Murphy   (415) 564-0074, Preferred means of communicating is by e-mail to murphsf@comcast.net

Join Dan and Joan on the annual GGAS family camping excursion to Lassen.  In past years we have seen Black Swift, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Townsend’s Solitaire, Mountain Bluebird, Calliope Hummingbird, Black-backed Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker and many of the flycatchers, warblers and finches that breed in the mountains.

FRIDAY AND SUNDAY MORNINGS we will meet at the Manzanita Lake
Campground store at 7:00 a.m.  We will bird around the lake for 2-3
hours, return to camp for breakfast, then rendezvous again at the store at 10:45 a.m. for another outing.

FRIDAY we will take a leisurely hike of 3 to 5 miles on one of Lassen’s beautiful trails.  We may climb as much as 700′.  Wear sturdy shoes and bring lunch and liquids.  Suntan lotion, a hat, mosquito repellent and warm clothing may also be necessary.

SUNDAY we will drive through the park, making frequent stops for birding.  We usually stop birding and head for home or camp after lunch at Summit Lake Campground.

On SATURDAY, campers will meet by the camp store at 7:30 a.m. and caravan north to Burney Falls, Fall River Valley and Baum Lake. Those staying at the Hat Creek Resort can meet us at around 8:00 a.m. at the Vista Point about 12 miles north of Lassen on Hwys. 44 & 89.  Bring lunch and liquids.  Since this is a long and tiring day we suggest joining us for dinner at a local restaurant (if one is available) or for a picnic dinner. We’ll allow time to make a food and gas run into Burney.

Please contact us by e-mail or phone to let us know if you are planning to attend. We will know our campsite number by then, so we’ll let you know. We may have to cut off attendance if the group is larger than in past years.

DIRECTIONS:  From the Bay Area drive north on I-5 to its junction with Hwy. 44 in Redding.  Go east on Hwy. 44 to the northwest entrance of Lassen.  Camping facilities are available at the Manzanita Lake Campground. Loops A and C by reservation only, loops B and D on a first-come-first-served basis. Reservations can be made online at www.recreation.gov or by calling 877.444.6777.

Lodging is available about 15 mi. north of the park at Hat Creek Resort, Old Station [530] 335-7121.  Other information can be obtained from the park headquarters, Mineral, CA 96063.   [$ at Lassen and Burney Falls]


Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland
Wednesday, June 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

Summer is a-comin’ in and the birds are a-goin’ out – but we might have a few Eared and Horned Grebes in breeding plumage. The cormorant rookery will be in full swing, and the lake and surrounding park will surely have other delights to offer.

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.