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

February 22nd, 2018
Mitchell Canyon, Mount Diablo State Park, Clayton
Friday, April 20, 8:30-1:00 PM (Rescheduled from April 6 due to rain)
Special fund-raising walk; please read below
Cathy Bleier (csbleier@sbcglobal.net, cell 510-414-5719).

Join us for a spring birding walk along Mitchell Canyon and Red Road trails. We will walk about 4 miles through oak savannah, mixed woodland, riparian habitats, and a little way up into chaparral/sage scrub. The route has some ups and downs and total elevation increase of up to 500 feet, depending on how far up Red Road Trail we go.

In lieu of the April Birdathon fund-raising trips, this is one of a number of field trips requiring a donation to GGAS. The minimum donation is $25 per person.  Please contact leader to register. After registration, meeting details will be sent to confirmed registrants.

We hope to see many residents and early spring migrants, including warblers, nuthatches, various woodpecker species, vireos, flycatchers and hummingbirds. We’ll be listening for songs and calls to refresh our birding by ear skills.  This time of year the trail is also famous for wildflowers, including the rare endemic Mount Diablo globe lily (also called fairy lantern), and butterflies.

Trip will meet rain or shine. Restrooms are available at the Staging Area. Please bring binoculars and water, and also a hat/sunscreen, as needed. Since we’ll be out past noon, you may want to bring snacks (or even lunch if you’d like to picnic area at tables near the park entrance).

Check out what GGAS has to say about this hotspot, complete with photos. https://goldengateaudubon.org/blog-posts/mitchell-canyon-birding-hotspot/

 

Valle Vista Staging Area, Upper San Leandro Reservoir, Moraga 
Friday, April 20, 8:30 — 11:30 a.m.
Madeline Brane, mbrane@sbcglobal.net, cell 650-235-5325; Johan Langewis, jlangewis@sbcglobal.net, cell (510) 541-1353

This EBMUD watershed land features a great variety of habitats: chaparral and scrub, grassland, pine-oak woodland, marsh, and the top of the reservoir. Likely birds include raptors, sparrows, California Thrasher, nuthatches, wrens, and the shy Wood Ducks. Walking is on hard-packed trails, with some gentle up and down hill. There is a pit toilet at the staging area, but no drinking water.

We’ll be walking about 2 miles. Meet at the Valle Vista Staging Area parking lot. From CA-24, take exit 9, the Orinda-Moraga exit.  Head toward Moraga. Go about 4.5 miles to the T intersection. Then turn right onto Canyon Rd. Go about 1 mile and turn left into the Valle Vista Staging Area parking lot. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/XBCSo4xHjzq

Families with kids are encouraged. Heavy rain cancels.

 

Corona Heights, San Francisco
Friday, April 20, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
(Third Friday bird walk)
Brian Fitch, fogeggs@gmail.com (Leaders vary by month.)

Great views of the city and beyond meet us as we explore this hilltop park. We’ll be checking on permanent and seasonal resident species as well as watching for migrants in and over this surprisingly productive place. Trails are relatively good, but many require navigating stairs and ramps. Families with kids are encouraged. Parents, please respect the other birders and leave the walk if your child becomes a distraction. The Museum has just re-opened. Come to the walk and then visit the newly remodeled museum. Free parking is available at the end of Museum Way in the Randall Museum lot, and transit options are very good, with a bus along Roosevelt Way, and MUNI trains just below on Market Street. Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/DS1dT1vZVqM2

 

UCSF Mt. Sutro Open Space Preserve, San Francisco
Saturday, April 21, 8:30 — 11:30 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. The UCSF Mt Sutro OSP is a 61 acre fragment of the more than 2000 acres of trees planted by Adolf Sutro in the late 19th century. We’ll walk ~2 miles, with climbs and descents on mostly well-graded trails (some rocky spots and exposed roots) built by the Sutro Stewards, (https://www.sutrostewards.org/trail-map). The Stewards have also developed a Native Plant Nursery, and do habitat restoration within the preserve. Be prepared for muddy trails if there has been rain. We’ll look and listen for resident birds–now joined by migrants and breeding birds. Our wintering friends have mostly headed to their breeding grounds.  Heavy Rain and/or strong wind cancels. Please rsvp Pat Greene, pjgreene@sonic.net, by email, for last minute updates or changes.

UCSF can be reached by public transit: N Judah light rail + UCSF elevator to Parnassus, and 43, 6 and 66 buses. Then hike uphill to the Woods Lot. Driving directions: from Clarendon, turn onto 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 where parking will be available.

There is no restroom at the Woods lot. If you are driving, there is a restroom at Aldea Community Center, 155 Johnstone Way (on the left at the Medical Center Way intersection).  If coming on public transportation, public restrooms can be found in Millberry Union on Parnassus.

 

Hilltop Lake, Richmond
Wednesday, April 25, 9:00 — 10:45 a.m.
Cathy Bleier, 510-414-5719 (cell); csbleier@sbcglobal.net.

Join me for my monthly walk at Hilltop Lake. Easy, flat 0.75 mile walk around Hilltop Lake in Richmond. Freshwater pond fed by Garrity Creek, surrounded by willows, cattails, and native and ornamental trees and shrubs. We’re up to 112 species for this site; check out ebird bar chart: https://ebird.org/barchart?r=L1405454&yr=all&m= . We’ll look for warblers, orioles, swallows and whatever else comes in for spring.

If you’re coming from Highway 80, take Richmond Parkway exit west, turn on to Lakeside Drive by the Hilltop YMCA and then take first left into the YMCA parking lot. Follow the one-way arrows in the parking lot, down to and through the lower lot, up again and turn left to park at the end near the entrance to the park. Please bring binoculars. Also, despite heavy daily use by Y patrons (including me!), there have been occasional break-ins, so please don’t leave valuables in sight. NO RESTROOM AVAILABLE AT THIS SITE. Rain cancels; call if you’re not sure.

 

Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland
Wednesday, April 25, 9:30 a.m. – noon
(Fourth Wednesday bird walk)
Ruth Tobey, 510.717.3264, ruthtobey@gmail.com; Hilary Powers, hilary@powersedit.com

Enjoy the last of the winter migrants, plus the cormorant rookery in full swing – and egrets and night-herons too, if the effort to move them back to the lake has paid off. And with luck, the little grebes will be putting on their party clothes before leaving for their breeding grounds….

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.

 

Mines Road, Alameda/Santa Clara County Fund-raising trip
Friday, April 27
Meet at 8:00 a.m. in Livermore. Trip will last all day.
Limited to 20.  Contact the leaders to sign up.
Steve & Carol Lombardi, cell 925.785.0130,
hotrock175@gmail.com

Join us for a day exploring remote Mines and San Antonio Valley Roads in this still empty corner of the Bay Area. Our route will take us along isolated roads that run through varied habitat from Livermore through the mountains of Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. We might see Phainopepla, Roadrunner, Lawrence’s Goldfinch, Lewis’ Woodpecker, and migrant warblers, along with the usual oak woodland and scrub species.The road is narrow and turnouts are short. So, we are limiting the trip to 20 participants.
In lieu of the April Birdathon fund-raising trips, this is one of a number of field trips requiring a donation to GGAS.

Carpooling will be mandatory. It will be dangerous if we caravan with more than five cars.Pack a lunch, water, and snacks. There are no services (including restrooms) on Mines Rd. unless the Junction Cafe is open, which is not dependable. Plan on being self-sufficient.

Since there is no Birdathon fund-raiser this year, we are doing a few special trips as fund-raisers. We are asking for a minimum donation of $50, payable on line here or to the trip leaders on the day of the trip. (Our trip leaders are unpaid volunteers; please be gentle and generous). We will send trip details to confirmed participants. A good resource for birding Mines Rd. is Art Edward’s annotated check list. It is available on Joe Morlan’s website: http://fog.ccsf.cc.ca.us/~jmorlan/ala1.htm

  

Palm Springs, Morongo Valley, & Salton Sea 
Friday — Monday, April 27, 28, 29, with April 30 as a possible add-on.
Emilie Strauss, desertpeach@earthlink.net; Rusty Scalf, rscalf@sonic.net, 510 495-5837
This trip and the wait list are both full.

This will be a 3 day trip to deserts of southern California with an optional 4th day riding a tram to the top of Mount San Jacinto.

 

Chain of Lakes, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Sunday, April 29, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Bonnie Brown & Mitch Youngman, mitchyoungman@gmail.com

Spring into Golden Gate Park with a birding walk through Chain of Lakes! We always keep an eye out for our year-round residents, summer visitors will be setting up housekeeping, all will be singing their little heads off and there’s always the possibility of a late migrant.  We’ll check a couple of, hopefully, active raptor nests. This is a learning-through-birding walk and all levels are welcome. Restrooms and water fountain located near North Lake.  Easy walk on the trails about 1 mile.  Heavy rain cancels.

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 43rdoff of Fulton St.


May 2018

 

Big Leaf Picnic Area, Tilden Park, Berkeley
GGAS Special Dawn Chorus Bird Walk 
(First of two bird walks today)
Friday, May 4, 5:30 — 7:30a.m.
Alan Kaplan, LNKPLN67@gmail.com or (510) 526-7609 for messages

Meet at Big Leaf Picnic Area, in front of the stone restroom (turn right off Canon Drive where it meets Central Park Drive). Note the early start time for our Annual Dawn Chorus Bird Walk. Flycatchers, Warblers, and Grosbeaks have been heard recently!  We’ll walk around to Blue Gum Gate and into the Nature Area. Young people who would enjoy the companionship of adult birders at this hour of the day are welcome.

 

Tilden Nature Area, Berkeley
Friday, May 4, 8:30 — 11:30 a.m. 
(Regular First Friday bird walk)
Alan Kaplan, LNKPLN67@gmail.com or (510) 526-7609 for messages

Meet at the Tilden Nature Area parking lot, in front of the Environmental Education Center and Little Farm, for the second bird walk today. Migrants, regulars and the “summer complaints” are featured today, on this walk to Jewel Lake and back again.  Young people who would enjoy the companionship of adult birders are welcome.  Restrooms and water at the start and midway.

 

Napa River boat trip with Dolphin Charters (departs from Vallejo)
Sunday, May 6, 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
GGAS Leader: Pamela Llewellyn, cell (510) 316-8932, pamelallewellyn@yahoo.com

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 $90 for Golden Gate Audubon members; $125 for non-members, which includes a one year membership to GGAS that will expire on December 31, 2018. Click here to register. Once the trip is full, you may register for the waiting list. Confirmed participants will receive directions to the marina and other instructions about a week before the trip.

 

Dawn Chorus Birding by Ear Hike at Vollmer Peak, Tilden Park 
Fund-raising walk. Minimum donation $75. See link below to register
Sunday, May 6, 5:30 — 8:30 a.m.
Denise Wight, blkittiwake@yahoo.com

For the 5:30 a.m. hike, we will be listening for owls and the subtle sounds of the dawn chorus to begin as the lighting changes. After sunrise, we will enjoy the early morning birds we encounter. Both trips will take the same route along the Seaview Trail, from the Vollmer Peak parking lot near the Steam Trains, to just north of the Big Spring Trail intersection. Limited to 10 people. Participants may only sign up for one of the walks.

In lieu of the April Birdathon fund-raising trips, this is one of a number of field trips requiring a donation to GGAS.

To register click here. Registration will close at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, May 4th. If the trip fills up, you may register for the waiting list. Details will be sent to registered participants.

 

Late Start Birding by Ear Hike at Vollmer Peak, Tilden Park 
Fund-raising walk. Minimum donation $75. See link below to register
Sunday, May 6, 9:00 a.m. — noon
Denise Wight, blkittiwake@yahoo.com

9:00 a.m. is the perfect start time for those who want to take a more leisurely pace greeting the morning, but we will still hope to enjoy some great listening experiences.
Both trips will take the same route along the Seaview Trail, from the Vollmer Peak parking lot near the Steam Trains, to just north of the Big Spring Trail intersection. Limited to 10 people. Participants may only sign up for one of the walks.

In lieu of the April Birdathon fund-raising trips, this is one of a number of field trips requiring a donation to GGAS.

To register click here. Registration will close at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, May 4th. If the trip fills up, you may register for the waiting list. Details will be sent to registered participants.

 

San Francisco Botanical Garden
Sunday, May 6, 8:00 — 10:30 a.m.
(First Sunday bird walk)
Ginny Marshall, ginnybirder@gmail.com; Robert Cullison, robcullison@sonic.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. Families with kids are encouraged. Parents, please respect the other birders and leave the walk if your child becomes a distraction. Entry is free before 9:00 a.m.

 

Lafayette Community Park, Lafayette
Sunday, May 6, 8:30 — 11:00 a.m.
(First Sunday bird walk)
Madeline Brane, mbrane@sbcglobal.net, cell 650-235-5325; Johan Langewis, jlangewis@sbcglobal.net, cell (510)541-1353

We’ll meet at the Lafayette Community Center and walk the trail behind the Community Center. This level trail features a variety of mature trees and grassy hillsides, alongside a stretch of riparian habitat.  Raptors, nuthatches, and woodpeckers are sited regularly, along with a variety of sparrows. If that trail is muddy, we can walk the paved bike trail across the street.

We’ll be walking about 2 miles. Meet at the Lafayette Community Center, 500 St. Mary’s Road.  From CA-24, take exit 9, the Orinda-Moraga exit.  Drive south on Moraga Way.  At the T intersection, turn left on Moraga Road, then turn right at the first traffic light onto St. Mary’s Road.  The Community Center is about 2 miles down St. Mary’s Road on the right; drive to the far end of the parking lot.  The URL for the Community Center is https://goo.gl/maps/MwtzQ7ZJA7T2. Community Center restrooms may be open at the end of our walk.

Families with kids are encouraged. Heavy rain cancels.

 

Valle Vista Staging Area, Upper San Leandro Reservoir, Moraga 
Friday, May 11, 8:30 — 11:30 a.m.
(Second Friday bird walk; leaders and venue vary by month)
Madeline Brane, mbrane@sbcglobal.net, cell 650-235-5325; Johan Langewis, jlangewis@sbcglobal.net, cell (510) 541-1353

This EBMUD watershed land features a great variety of habitats: chaparral and scrub, grassland, pine-oak woodland, marsh, and the top of the reservoir. Likely birds include raptors, sparrows, California Thrasher, nuthatches, wrens, and the shy Wood Ducks. Walking is on hard-packed trails, with some gentle up and down hill. There is a pit toilet at the staging area, but no drinking water.

We’ll be walking about 2 miles. Meet at the Valle Vista Staging Area parking lot. From CA-24, take exit 9, the Orinda-Moraga exit.  Head toward Moraga. Go about 4.5 miles to the T intersection. Then turn right onto Canyon Rd. Go about 1 mile and turn left into the Valle Vista Staging Area parking lot. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/XBCSo4xHjzq

Families with kids are encouraged. Heavy rain cancels.

 

Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, Oakland
Saturday, May 12, 8:30 — 10:30 a.m.

Rusty Scalf, rscalf@sonic.net 

Birds of Monterey Pine, soft chaparral and grassland. Meet at the entrance parking lot, one-tenth mile south of the junction of Grizzly Peak Blvd and Skyline Blvd, Oakland. Restrooms and water at the start. A moderate pace with some up and down. Buntings should be in. Come be a hero and find our Rufous-crowned Sparrow. Directions at http://www.ebparks.org/ or Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/kx7BookhcPL2

 

Corona Heights, San Francisco
Friday, May 18, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
(Third Friday bird walk)

Sarah Burton, burtosarah@gmail.com (Leaders vary by month.)

Great views of the city and beyond meet us as we explore this hilltop park. We’ll be checking on permanent and seasonal resident species as well as watching for migrants in and over this surprisingly productive place. Trails are relatively good, but many require navigating stairs and ramps. Come to the walk and then visit the newly remodeled museum. Free parking is available at the end of Museum Way in the Randall Museum lot, and transit options are very good, with a bus along Roosevelt Way, and MUNI trains just below on Market Street. Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/DS1dT1vZVqM2

 

Yosemite’s Bird Life, Yosemite National Park
Friday-Sunday, May 18-20, 2018
Dave Quady, (510) 704-9353 or davequady@att.net, and Dave Cornman.

This trip and the waiting list are full.

 

Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco
Sunday, May 20, 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. The focus will be looking for late migrants.  May can bring a surprise migrant, and there should still be migrating flycatchers, vireos, and warblers moving through. Last year we had a Western Wood Pewee, a Western Tanager and a Black Headed Grosbeak. Nesting birds could include Pigeon Guillemots, Downy Woodpeckers, and Hooded Orioles. We’ll also check out the Black Point Battery for flycatchers and warblers, and scan Aquatic Park for water birds.  May 20th is also the day for Bay to Breakers so keep that in mind when coming across town to Fort Mason.

Restroom in meadow, ample parking if there is no race on the waterfront (also easily accessible by transit). Heavy rain cancels.
http://goo.gl/maps/RKZwU 

 

 


 

GGAS Is Looking For New Field Trip Leaders

If you’re a birder and have favorite spots that you would like to share, please consider joining our cadre of volunteer field trip leaders.

It might sound a little scary (“Who me? I can’t lead a field trip.”) but it’s really fun and quite easy.

We’re planning some training walks.  We’ll help you write trip descriptions and find background resources on the places you love to go birding.

And you don’t need to be able to identify every bird. You’ll be successful by organizing an enjoyable walk at an interesting location.

Need a coach? If you’d like a mentor, we’ll match you up with an experienced field trip leader.

If you’re interested (even if you’re maybe a little interested, but also a little nervous) contact
Maureen Lahiff, adult education committee chair, 510.484.6529MLahiff@aol.com or our field trip coordinator, Steve Lombardi, hotrock175@gmail.com