Our field trips welcome birders of all skill levels, especially beginning birders. We encourage experienced birders to help the new birders in the group. And beginners: Don’t be shy. We encourage you to identify yourselves at the start of the walks so that the leaders and more experienced birders can help.
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 and now cared for by the Sutro Stewards (https://www.sutrostewards.org/trail-map). We will be walking about 2 miles of trails through the forest and around the summit. There will be some uphill climbing, and the trails are narrow, unpaved, and rocky in places. Mt. Sutro is a great place to focus on listening to locals and getting more intimate encounters with some of our regular birds. There is plenty of breeding activity still going on all over the mountain, and we will likely see fledged young, feeding activity, and possibly some early migrators.
Parking and meeting at the UCSF Woods Lot at 100 Medical Center Way at 8:30 a.m. We are given permission through UCSF/Sutro Stewards to use the parking lot for the morning of 8/17, no need to worry about the “permit only” signs. The restrooms are at the Aldea Community Center, 155 Johnstone Way, and we will make our way over there through the trails about one hour into the walk. If you need directions or advice on how to get there, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, Alameda
Saturday, August 17, 4:00–6:00 p.m. (unusual time due to tides)
Maureen Lahiff, MLahiff@aol.com, 510.484.6529
Shorebird migration is well underway! Some are pausing to feast in preparation for continuing their migration; others are here for the winter. Come see them close up as the tide goes out. Many birds still carry some of their more colorful alternate (“breeding”) plumage. This is also a great time to view terns: Elegant and Forster’s Terns are back; Caspian and Least Terns may still be around (those who bred nearby may be accompanied by their offspring).
However you come into Alameda, please come to the intersection of Broadway and Shore Line Drive. Parking on Broadway and streets off Broadway is the best bet. This trip involves little walking. We’ll be on a viewing platform most of the time.
Bring water and sun protection. Spotting scopes welcome and appreciated. Restrooms and water available along Shoreline Drive near the Sanctuary. The short URL for Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary is https://goo.gl/maps/psmCG7hv2n92
Valle Vista Staging Area, Upper San Leandro Reservoir, Moraga
Saturday, August 17, 8:30–11:30 a.m.
Madeline Brane, firstname.lastname@example.org, cell (650) 235-5325;
Johan Langewis, email@example.com, 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 (wide in most areas), with some gentle up- and downhill. There is a pit toilet at the staging area, but no drinking water. There are one or two areas to sit along this trail. There is ample parking.
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 Road. Go about 1 mile and turn left into the Valle Vista Staging Area parking lot. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/XBCSo4xHjzq
Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco
Sunday, August 18, 8:00–10:00 a.m.
(Third Sunday bird walk)
David Assmann, firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet in front of the Community Garden to explore several different habitats in this compact part of GGNRA. The focus will be looking for early migrants. The garden and the battery could have orioles, warblers, tanagers and flycatchers. We’ll also scan Aquatic Park for shorebirds and water birds. Restroom in meadow, ample parking if there is no race on the waterfront (also easily accessible by transit). Most of the walk is flat, on mostly paved walkways, but there is one short steep descent to the waterfront. There are benches in the garden but nowhere else on the walk. Heavy rain cancels. Google Maps link: http://goo.gl/maps/RKZwU
Fall Bird Walk Series | Golden Gate Audubon Society & Salesforce Park
Salesforce Park, San Francisco
Tuesday, August 20, 7:30 — 8:30 a.m.
Sarah Burton, email@example.com, cell (415) 318-6271
San Francisco’s newest park is a great natural habitat for urban birds! Its diverse habitats – from the Wetland Garden to the Redwood Forest to the Central Lawn – serve as a year-round oasis for resident and migratory bird species.
Birders of all levels are welcome to join this educational walk series, which will focus on observing resident species as well as the fall migrants, who stop in San Francisco as they make their way along the Pacific Flyway.
Meet in Salesforce Park at the Children’s Play Area (also near the rooftop First St. elevator and Grand Hall escalator). The rooftop park has several access points (map). Both the Park and the Transit Center are ADA compliant (i.e. wheelchair accessible). Restrooms on Level 3. Binoculars helpful, but not mandatory. Bring them if you have them. Heavy rain cancels.
Dimond Park and Sausal Creek, Oakland
Wednesday, August 21, 8:30–10:30 a.m.
(Third Wednesday bird walk)
Penn Hughes, firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 499-5491 for messages
Meet at the parking lot above the recreation center. The car entrance to Dimond Park is at the corner of Hanly Road (from Lyman Road (Fruitvale Avenue) and El Centro Avenue (from Park Blvd.) The road loops left up to the parking lot.
Walking conditions (and alternate parking): The parking lot is higher than the rec center. There is limited handicapped parking by the rec center. The routes from parking to the main birding area involve a combination of steps or narrow paths, and some are steep. Alternate parking: Avoid the parking lot. Park on the street on Fruitvale Avenue at the foot of the steep hill (near the tennis courts). Come late: The group will still start at the parking lot, but we will touch Fruitvale Avenue near the tennis courts at about 8:45 a.m. (If you park at Fruitvale, the walk back to your car will be a little longer but pretty flat.)
The main birding area has gentle hills but is mostly level. It is a combination of park walking and narrow good pathways leading to the (good, wide) path up Sausal Creek Canyon. Much of the route is easily modified to accommodate those who want to sit and rest sometimes. We will loop through the park, then through the playground area, and then up Sausal Creek. There are restrooms in Dimond Park: for sure open later, perhaps NOT OPEN at 8:30 a.m. Children are welcome. Please, no dogs.
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!
Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, Crown Beach, Alameda
Thursday, August 22, 8:00–10:00 a.m.
Sharol Nelson-Embry, email@example.com, (510) 851-1341
We’ll meet at the Crown Beach Bird Sanctuary marsh overlook platform, on Shoreline Drive between Broadway and Park Street, then walk the unpaved trail looking for shorebirds, ducks, and other wonderful birds along the way. We can head up the beach at the end of the walk to see what species enjoy the sandy beach. The trail is paved and flat, approx. 3 miles round trip. There are public restrooms near the meeting site and along the beach trail. Bring binoculars, spotting scopes, and bird ID guides, if you have them. Birding results will be posted on eBird; include your email when you sign in on-site if you’d like to see the eBird report. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/psmCG7hv2n92
Snag Lake Backpack Trip, Lassen Volcanic National Park
Friday–Monday, August 23–26
Robin Pulich; David Rice, firstname.lastname@example.org
On this annual camping and birding trip to Lassen, we will backpack 3 miles to Snag Lake and spend three nights in primitive camping by a stream near a large meadow. We should see flocks of mixed warblers and other songbirds, plus resident birds of the mountains, Bald Eagles, and migrating shorebirds. We will be above 6,000 feet. To avoid impact on the fragile habitat, the trip is limited to 12 people. Participants are responsible for their own gear and food. Contact David Rice to reserve a space; put “GGAS trip” in the subject line.
McLaren Park, San Francisco
Saturday, August 24, 8:00–11:00 a.m.
Dan Scali, email@example.com, (925) 683-3576 (cell)
Fall migration ought to be in full wing by this date. Come on out to this large, under-birded park in Southeast SF where we’ll scan riparian, oak woodlands, grassy meadows, and other varied habitats for local and southbound treasures. We will likely cover 2–3 miles on sometimes-hilly terrain. There are multiple bathrooms and places to get water. Meet in the parking lot at Mansell and Visitacion (also marked as the Philosopher’s Way Trailhead on Google Maps). Parking is limited, so carpool if you can. From US-101 South, exit at Paul Ave. and continue straight onto Mansell for about 1/2 mile. Mansell will narrow and curve left toward Visitacion at a stop sign. Go straight through the intersection onto Visitacion, and the entrance to the lot will be immediately on your right. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/JPZnzVZ6gBz1qNUM9. Questions, comments, or concerns? Just email.
Albany Mudflats, McLaughlin Shoreline State Park, Albany Bulb
Saturday, August 24, 9:30 –11:30 a.m.
Fred Werner, 510-610-1256 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org.
Migration is on! Especially with all the exciting shorebirds seen around the Bay of late, it’s time to resume our monthly visits to the Albany shoreline. Returning birders, newcomers, and all levels of experience welcome! For a sense of how this walk goes, here’s a recent blog: https://goldengateaudubon.org/blog-posts/albany-mudflats-mclaughlin-eastshore-state-park-albany-bulb/
We’ll meet an hour after (a low) high tide for excellent views of an abundance of shorebirds, ducks, and other denizens of the newly exposed mudflats, perhaps with some intriguing migrants. Then, an easy, mostly flat 1-mile loop on gravel/dirt paths around the McLaughlin Shoreline Park uplands area protected as wintering habitat for Burrowing Owls. We’ll pick up landbirds (likely Western Meadowlark) as well as views of the open water for diving ducks, pelicans, grebes, Ospreys, kingfishers, and more, continuing out to the Albany Bulb to pick up more species, including possible Black Turnstones, White-tailed Kites, and various woodland species along with spectacular views of the Bay including SF, Mt. Tam, the Bay Bridge, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Easy to leave anytime if you need to leave early.
Check out the last 10 Augusts here on eBird:
uplands (McLaughlin Park): https://ebird.org/hotspot/L2377313/last10/8
Albany Bulb: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L178143/last10/8
Directions: From I-80, go west on Buchanan towards Golden Gate Fields. Park within the first 75 yards, just past the “Albany Waterfront Trail” sign and look for us at the first observation platform right there https://goo.gl/maps/UVKrWoh1YF62
Rain or shine. Parking is free (keep valuables out of sight) but very limited. In the past, we’ve been able to park in the closest section of the Golden Gate Fields racetrack parking lot, but no guarantees that’s a (free) option now.
So carpool if you can, or take the AC Transit 80 bus from either the El Cerrito Plaza or Ashby BART stations. There is a handicap-accessible latrine bathroom. Bring binoculars and a spotting scope if you have them, but no equipment or experience necessary. Email or text with questions. See you there!
Birdwatching at Lands End with Feminist Bird Club and Golden Gate Audubon
Sunday, August 25, 9:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Whitney Grover, email@example.com, cell 831-421-2949;
Alex Smolyanskaya, firstname.lastname@example.org, cell (text only please) 650-458-7092
Where the land meets the sea, join us for the first joint walk between Golden Gate Audubon and The Feminist Bird Club! Lands End, the aptly named northwest corner of the city, is a great place for birding both terrestrial and coastal birds. We’ll have views of off-shore cormorants, oystercatchers, pelicans, and more. Plus, along the trails, we should see hawks, nuthatches, and other land-based birds. Everyone and all skill levels are welcome!
The Feminist Bird Club is a birdwatching club dedicated to promoting diversity in birding and providing a safe opportunity to connect with the natural world while fundraising to protect the rights of LGBTQIA+ folks, women, and people of color. You can learn more about us here: fbc-sfbay.com
Directions: We will meet by the Lands End Lookout Visitor Center, 680 Point Lobos Ave. at 9 a.m. You can get there by public transit on the 38AX or 38R Muni buses, or a 15-minute walk from the 18, 31, and 5 lines.
Accessibility: We will be walking along the Lands End and Coastal Trails, which are wide, well-graded trails but unpaved, and there are some stairs.
This may be the year’s quietest month at Lake Merritt––but that makes it the best time of year to start birding! There’ll be enough repetition for newcomers to develop solid understanding of the regular avian residents along with enough to see to keep old hands interested in following the changing patterns of the lake.
Meet at the large spherical cage near the Nature Center at Perkins and Bellevue. We will bird around there, then either walk down the lake toward El Embarcadero or go up the paved path toward Children’s Fairyland and loop back through the garden, after which we will cover what we missed. The down-the-lake path is all paved, with gentle slopes up from the cage to the road and back down on the other side of the bird paddock. If we go up toward the garden first, it’s another gentle, paved rise toward the other end of Bellevue. Coming from El Embarcadero, we’re apt to cut across the lawn, but can stick with paved paths if anyone in the group is using a walker or wheelchair. Regardless of the route, the park offers benches at frequent intervals.
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 3 hours, as the dashboard cards don’t have a start time on them.
Evening Bat Walk, Lake Chabot Marina, Castro Valley
Thursday, August 29, 7:00–9:30 p.m.
Susan Ramos, EBRPD Naturalist
Questions? Contact Steve Lombardi, email@example.com
Susan will lead us out and back on a 3-mile round trip walk to watch and hear (she’ll bring her “bat detector”) the bats foraging over the lake. Lake Chabot hosts several species of bats, both residents and migrants. Come out and join the fun.
The trail is paved with some moderate up-and-down.
Bring appropriate gear for a night walk, e.g.,
– Flashlight for the return walk
– Something soft to sit on (we will be sitting on slanted ground for quite a while watching the bats, so you might wish to bring a blanket or a cushion.)
This walk is free, but you might consider making a donation to the Regional Parks Foundation: https://www.regionalparksfoundation.org/
Directions: Meet at the marina between the snack bar and the restrooms. The marina parking lot is at 17600 Lake Chabot Rd., Castro Valley, CA 94546. Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/Bf6nNGF4ahK5imCT9
Salesforce Park, San Francisco
Sunday, September 1, 8:00–10:00 a.m.
Ryan Gilpin, firstname.lastname@example.org, (925) 980-1256
Salesforce Park is a 4-block long rooftop garden on top of the new transit center in San Francisco that has recently re-opened to the public. Downtown San Francisco is few people’s idea of a well-connected bird habitat, but a new island of vegetation in a sea of concrete is an exciting development. Even if the birding is not very good (https://ebird.org/hotspot/L7830130), there are a variety of trees to check out.
While the main focus will be birds, this is a combined tree and bird trip. This is a very interesting site for enjoying and identifying both native and non-native trees. We can go over the basics to help describe which tree a bird is in to your friends, as well as some of the trickier species ID of non-native species that grow in the Bay Area. This is a young landscape, and recently planted trees can be particularly difficult to identify because they haven’t developed their distinctive characteristics yet.
Meet at the park on the 4th floor, near the 1st Street elevator. Parking is often difficult in this area, but it may not be too bad on a Sunday. Public transit options are numerous. https://goo.gl/maps/cqboWba3ieY6bAYy9
Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, Alameda
(This is the first in a series of field trips highlighting conservation issues)
Saturday, September 7, 10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Maureen Lahiff, MLahiff@aol.com, 510.484.6529
Linda Carloni, GGAS East Bay Conservation Committee
The millions of shorebirds that winter on San Francisco Bay make it a state and global Important Bird Area. It is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebirds Reserve Network and a Ramsar Convention wetland of international importance.
We’ll discuss the importance of the Bay for wintering birds, the place of wetlands in mitigating climate change, and restoration work done here and at the Alameda Wildlife Reserve.
We’ll meet at the intersection of Broadway and Shore Line Drive. Parking on Broadway and streets off Broadway is the best bet.
We will be on a viewing platform with a few benches. Bring water and sun protection. Spotting scopes welcome and appreciated. Restrooms and water available along Shoreline Drive near the Sanctuary. The short URL for Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary is https://goo.gl/maps/psmCG7hv2n92
Vaux’s Swifts at McNear Brickyard, San Rafael
Wednesday, September 18, 5:45 — 7:30 p.m.
Rusty Scalf, email@example.com, 510/495-5837
Registration: This is a free event but is limited to 30 participants to respect the swifts and the property owners. Pre-registration required.
There will be a waiting list once the trip is full, but please do NOT register unless you definitely plan to attend! Registration will close midnight Wednesday, September 11.
Confirmed participants will be sent trip details and directions by email by Thursday. For registration questions email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 510-843-2222 during office hours – Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon. After Thursday, contact the trip leader if you have questions or need to cancel.
Vaux’s Swifts migrate south along the Pacific Flyway each fall, and one of their few known stopping points in Northern California is the McNear Brickyard in San Rafael. At sunset on many September and October evenings, as many as 19,000 swifts mass and fly into the decommissioned brickyard chimneys to spend the night. It’s an unforgettable sight! GGAS instructor Rusty Scalf discovered this overnight roost several years ago and now work with other GGAS volunteers to monitor the numbers of roosting swifts. Click here to read and view photos of the 2014 swift season at McNear on our blog.
We will send you directions and parking instructions by email by the Thursday before the trip. Carpooling is strongly encouraged since there is very little parking.
Keep in mind that the number of swifts varies greatly from night to night, and can range from a few hundred to thousands. Like everything else in birding, there are no guarantees!
Heron’s Head Park: Birding, History, Conservation; San Francisco
(This the second in a series of field trips highlighting conservation issues)
Saturday, September 14, 2:00–4:00 p.m. (due to tides)
Eddie Bartley, email@example.com, 415-355-0450
Angie Geiger, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-264-0069
Mary Betlach, GGAS SF Conservation Committee, email@example.com,
Please join us at one of San Francisco’s ecological treasures. Heron’s Head Park is a 22-acre open space and thriving wildlife habitat located in the City’s southeast sector. Teeming with native plants and a wide variety of birds, Heron’s Head Park, one of the few wetlands on San Francisco’s shoreline, is an example of restoration success. We will give a brief history of the park and conservation work done by the SFPort, GGAS, and others. We hope to see some of our returning wintering shorebirds, ducks, and other wonderful birds. Beginners are welcome. We will walk part of the Bay Trail and Heron’s Head mostly on flat ground–gravel and paved. There is short narrow dirt section connecting the two trails. Please bring binoculars and scopes, if you have them. Heron’s Head is located at Cargo Way and Jennings Street in San Francisco. (+37° 44′ 22.99″, -122° 22′ 33.49″ or Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/d3Ej5bdtb332). There is a small parking lot and porta-potties. Reminder: This is an urban location, so please don’t leave anything of value visible in your car. We will meet next to the picnic tables. Heavy rain cancels.
Behind the Scenes at International Bird Rescue
Saturday, September 14, 10:00–11:30 a.m.
Questions to Cheryl Reynolds cheryl.reynolds@bird-rescue.
International Bird Rescue is a worldwide leader in the care and rehabilitation of aquatic birds. Last July, Bird Rescue responded to the collapse of a rookery tree in Downtown Oakland rescuing 90 baby egrets and Black-crowned Night-Herons. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Fairfield facility and see the secrets of their success in wild bird care. While there can be no guarantee, Bird Rescue hopes to offer a bird release on that date for those that are interested.
Fees from this trip will be donated to International Bird Rescue to help with the rehabilitation of the Oakland egrets and herons and other Bay Area birds in crisis.
Date: September 14, 2019
Place: International Bird Rescue
4369 Cordelia Rd, Fairfield CA 94534
Eco-Sail to the Marin Headlands
Saturday, October 26, 8:15–11:30 a.m.
This special trip to benefit GGAS will take you under the Golden Gate Bridge and all the way out to Point Bonita Lighthouse on the schooner the Freda B. This is a prime area for birds and wildlife, there will be a naturalist on-board to guide you through the whole experience. You’ll learn about the diverse ecosystems of the San Francisco Bay, with frequent bird and wildlife sightings. Ticket price includes a cup of coffee and a mimosa! This is a great way to enjoy the Bay for both birders and non-birders!
Date: October 26, 2019
Place: Sausalito Yacht Harbor Slip 465
Boarding: 8:15 a.m.
Disembark: 11:30 a.m.
Go HERE for more info. and registration
You can also find our walks on Meetup at https://www.meetup.com/Golden-Gate-Audubon-Society/
New GGAS chat group
We’ve started a new chat group where we can post updates to field trips and conduct general birding/conservation discussions. Click here to go to the site. Membership is free.
Pelagic trips, including the Farallons
We’re listing these links to opportunities for seabirding, for your convenience.
Please contact them directly for more information, cost and reservations.
Debi Shearwater and Alvaro Jaramillo both lead outstanding trips and bring experienced sea-birders along as spotters. Their trips leave from a variety of ports, including Monterey (with the submarine canyon in Monterey Bay)
Alvaro Jaramillo www.alvarosadventures.com
These Farallon trips leave from Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay.
Debi Shearwater www.shearwaterjourneys.com
Whalewatching trips that include the Farallons
For either of these, look at the biographical sketches of the guides and then call and ask which trips have guides who are enthusiastic about birds as well as marine mammals.
These trips leave from Sausalito and San Francisco.
follow the links for Whalewatching and then Farallons
Contact link has phone numbers.
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, 510.484.6529, MLahiff@aol.com or our field trip coordinator, Steve Lombardi, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Ilana De Bare