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

October 1st, 2017

Hilltop Lake Park, Richmond
Wednesday, October 18, 9:00 — 10:45 a.m.
Cathy Bleier 510-414-5719 (cell); csbleier@sbcglobal.net.

Easy, flat 0.75 mile walk around Hilltop Lake in Richmond.  Freshwater pond surrounded by willows, cattails, and native and ornamental trees and shrubs. 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, turn on to Lakeside Drive by the Hilltop YMCA and then take first left into the YMCA parking lot. Follow the parking lot arrows down to lower lot, up again and left to the end of the lot at 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. Heavy rains cancel.


Penn Hughes’ Third Wednesday bird walk will return in December


Corona Heights, San Francisco
Friday, October 20, 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


Wilcox Staging Area, part of Sibley Preserve, Oakland
(Note: this is NOT on Skyline Blvd. Read the directions!)
(Centennial bird walk)
Sunday, October 22, 9:00 — 11:00 a.m.
Bob Lewis, Bob@wingbeats.org; Bill Hudson, wllm2@comcast.net; Arthur Feinstein

This trip is intended to visit this new portion of the EBRPD Sibley Preserve as part of our Centennial celebration of GGAS’s 100 years of contributions to Bay Area conservation. Arthur Feinstein, long-time Bay Area conservationist, was instrumental in preserving this property and will be joining us. For those unfamiliar with Arthur, click here to read his bio.

The best birding at Wilcox is at the entrance, so we will look there for species of oak woodlands and in the small seasonal wetland. We will then walk about a quarter mile up the gravel road to what must have been the quarry staging and maintenance area for a short history of the events, and GGAS’s pivotal role, in passing so much natural acreage on to posterity.

After completion of the program we will hike the McCosker Loop Trail, about 2 miles of hillside grassland with some somewhat steep sections for the views, exercise and whatever winged creatures present themselves.

Directions: This new portion of the EBRPD is on Pinehurst Rd., about 1.5 miles east of the Pinehurst/Skyline intersection in Oakland. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/wSwAF86wrmS2

Link to the park map: http://www.ebparks.org/parks/sibley, but don’t believe the note on the map about accessing Wilcox via Moraga. Canyon Rd. outside Moraga is closed; see below. Portapotty at start; no water. Significant rain cancels.

Note on road closures: This venue is accessible only by going through Oakland. Canyon Rd. west of Moraga and Redwood Rd. north of Castro Valley are both closed. So the only access to this venue is by Pinehurst Rd. from Oakland. You can find information about the closures on the links below.

Canyon Rd., Moraga: http://www.moraga.ca.us/#slidingDiv_6
Redwood Rd.: https://www.acpwa.org/news/redwood-road-use-caution


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

October is the beginning of the high season at Club Bird (otherwise known as Lake Merritt), and we should see some – perhaps many – migratory ducks and grebes settling in for the winter.

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.


Berkeley Meadows and Eastshore State Park, Berkeley
Saturday, October 28, 7:30 — 10:30 a.m.
Emilie Strauss, desertpeach@earthlink.net

We will walk 2-3 miles on paved and gravel pads looking for sparrow flocks, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Expected species may include Black Oystercatcher, American Wigeon, and Greater Scaup.

Meet at the west gate to the Berkeley Meadows. From Berkeley, take University Ave. west until it forms a Y-junction by the marina. Turn right on Marina Boulevard and go about a quarter-mile and park on the right. This is across the street and south of the Doubletree Hotel. No bathrooms or water at meeting spot.


Valle Vista Staging Area, Upper San Leandro Reservoir, Moraga
Sunday, October 29, 8:30 a.m. — Noon
Maureen Lahiff, MLahiff@aol.com, 510.484.6529

This EBMUD watershed land features a great variety of habitats: chaparral and scrub, grassland, pine-oak woodland, marsh, and the top of the reservoir. Fall possibilities include: raptors, wintering 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.

Directions: Take 35th Avenue east from I-580, which becomes Redwood Road. Or take Redwood Road east from CA-13. From Redwood Road, take a left on Pinehurst a bit past the park entrance and fire station. Turn right on Canyon Road. The Valle Vista Staging Area is on the right immediately before the “Road Closed” signs and barricade. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/wVkGgkdYGfq. Please contact Maureen if you need more detailed directions.

Note on road closures: This venue is accessible only by going through Oakland. Canyon Rd. west of Moraga and Redwood Rd. north of Castro Valley are both closed. So the only access to this venue is through Oakland, as described above. You can find information about the closures on the links below.

Canyon Rd., Moraga: http://www.moraga.ca.us/#slidingDiv_6
Redwood Rd.: https://www.acpwa.org/news/redwood-road-use-caution


Further Out

Birds of SF and San Pablo Bays – Boat Trip with Dolphin Charters

Saturday, November 18, 8:45 to 4 p.m.
Maureen Lahiff,  MLahiff@aol.com, 510.484.6529 

This trip is now FULL but you may register for the waiting list in case of cancellations.

San Francisco Bay, the largest and one of the most important estuaries along the Pacific Flyway, is right in our own backyard.  Join us as we cruise from Berkeley toward the Golden Gate Bridge and north into San Pablo Bay, hugging the shorelines and waters that are home to thousands of wintering birds.

Leaving from Berkeley, we will proceed along the old Berkeley ferry pier to see what’s shaking, turn north and head over to Southhampton Shoal, and then on to the Richmond Inner Harbor and Brooks Island and its breakwater. Leaving this area we’ll travel to Red Rock before passing under the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge and our views of East and West Brothers Islands. This trip offers water bird and marine mammal viewing in stunning locations, many of which can only be seen by boat.  In addition to the many ducks, loons, pelicans and gulls that come into the Bay for the winter, we can also expect to see resident cormorants, grebes, terns and murres.

Dress in layers. Bring liquids and lunch. Trip is limited to 29 people. Cost is $85 for GGAS members and $95 for non-members.

Depart and return: Berkeley Marina (Directions and trip details will be emailed to registered participants about two weeks before.)

Click here to register for the waiting list.


Pelagic Trips

See birds of the open water! (And maybe some marine mammals.) Shearwater Journeys, Alvaro’s Adventures, and the Oceanic Society all offer trips from the Bay Area. 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/. For downloadable instructions on using Meetup, click on How to Join Meetup.


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.