Field Trips

February 1st, 2017

Penn Hughes’ third Wednesday bird walk will return 


Corona Heights, San Francisco
Friday, February 17, 8 — 10 a.m.
(Third Friday bird walk)
Brian Fitch; Dominik Mosur, (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: 


UCSF Mt Sutro Open Space Preserve, San Francisco
Saturday February 18, 8:15 – ~11 a.m.
Pat Greene, cell (415)

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 gradual climbs and descents on mostly well-graded trails (with a few rocky spots). If it has been rainy, be prepared for muddy trails. We’ll look and listen for resident and wintering birds. The OSP is the focus of a new push by UCSF to manage the ‘forest’ for greater habitat diversity in the future. The Sutro Stewards are already utilizing openings in the forest for conservation planting.  Heavy Rain and/or strong wind cancels; please email Pat Greene, for last minute updates or changes.  

Meet at Woods Lot, 100 Medical Center Way, at 8:15  (  Note that two events are meeting in this lot on Feb 18. Please meet at the far end of the lot to join this walk.

Driving directions to the Woods Lot: from Clarendon, turn on Johnstone Drive into UCSF Aldea Housing, turn R on Johnstone Drive, and continue downhill to a wooden shelter for the UCSF Shuttle Stop; turn right into Woods Lot ( From Parnassus, turn onto Medical Center Way, go uphill past the obvious Surge Lot entrance on the left, Woods lot driveway is an obscure driveway immediately after Surge Lot. There is a restroom at Aldea Community Center (, 155 Johnstone Way (on the left at the Johnstone-Medical Center Way intersection). Please allow extra time if you need to use this facility before the start of the walk.

UCSF can be reached by public transit: N Judah light rail, and 43, 6 and 66 buses. Then you hike uphill along Medical Center Way to the meeting place.


Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco
Sunday, February 19, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
(Third Sunday bird walk)
David Assmann,

Meet in front of the Community Garden to explore several different habitats in this compact part of GGNRA. In February we’ll try to find this year’s special overwintering species,the Bullock’s Oriole, the Orchard Oriole, the White-Throated Sparrow and the Nashville Warbler. The morning high tide at 5:24 means we’ll have a small chance of finding a Wandering Tattler, and we’ll look for ducks, grebes and loons as well at Aquatic Park. Three woodpecker species could be in the park. We’ll also look for the earliest of our migrants – the Allen’s Hummingbird, which shows up by February. Restroom in meadow, ample parking if there is no race on the waterfront (also easily accessible by transit). Heavy rain cancels.

Google Maps link:


MLK, Jr. Regional Shoreline, Arrowhead Marsh/Garretson Point, Oakland
Monday, February 20, 8:30 am to 11:30 am−noon
Maureen Lahiff,, 510.484.6529

We’ll start at Arrowhead Marsh, where we’ll listen and look for Ridgway’s Rails, Sora, and Virginia Rails. After exploring this area, we’ll drive to Garretson Point, to enjoy the ducks, grebes and waterbirds on the bay and in the seasonal wetland across from the parking lot, then walk to the bridge over Damon Slough, where the tide will be going out, to see shorebirds feeding on the mudflats. 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.There are restrooms and water available near Garretson Point and at Arrowhead Marsh. The parking lot for Arrowhead Marsh is reached from Swan Way. From I-880, take Hegenberger Road towards the Oakland Airport. Turn right onto Pardee after crossing a creek, left on Swan Way at the end of Pardee, then right at the Arrowhead Marsh sign and drive to the end of the road. (If you miss Pardee, keep going to Doolittle, turn right and then right on Swan Way and left into MLK Regional Shoreline.)


Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland
Wednesday, February 22, 9:30 a.m. – noon
(Fourth Wednesday bird walk)
Hilary Powers, 510.834.1066,; Ruth Tobey, 510.717.3264, 

January and February are peak months at Lake Merritt: all the winter migrants have arrived and none have left yet. Come see if any strangers have joined them!

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.

Further Out

Displaying Greater Sage Grouse — and much, much more! (Lassen County)
Special Centennial Birdathon trip
Saturday and Sunday, March 25-26, 2017
Dave Quady,, or (510) 704-9353

This trip is now FULL! You may sign up to be on a waiting list in case of cancellations.

The centerpiece of this weekend-long field trip will be a chance to see male Greater Sage-Grouse dance for females’ attention, but we will have much, much more to enjoy during our time in Lassen County. Nearby we’ll look for Sagebrush Sparrow and Sage Thrasher to complete the ‘sage trifecta.’ Elsewhere we’ll bird the Honey Lake Valley, a major waterfowl wintering area; visit Eagle Lake, a large endorheic alkaline lake in a spectacular mountain setting; seek wintering raptors such as Ferruginous Hawk and Rough-legged Hawk; and try for mountain birds such as White-headed Woodpeckers, Pinyon Jays, Mountain Chickadees, and Townsend’s Solitaires.

This trip will begin in Susanville very early Saturday morning, March 25 (so you’ll want to arrive the night before) and end early Sunday afternoon, March 26, after lunch at a private residence with lots of bird feeders on the edge of Eagle Lake. There are many motels in Susanville (we’ve negotiated a discounted rate at one convenient, comfortable motel) and primitive camping available twenty miles away.

Because 2017 is GGAS’s Centennial, we are including this very special trip in our spring Birdathon fundraiser and asking everyone to make a minimum donation of $100/person. Advance sign-up required..

Click here to register. Once the trip is full, you may sign up to be on a waiting list.

Dave Quady, who saw his first Greater Sage-Grouse in Lassen County in 1978, and has since led more than ten field trips there, will be the leader and the trip will be limited to 20 participants. Complete details will be provided after registration. Meanwhile, contact Dave at or (510) 704-9353 for further information.


Petaluma River: Birding By Boat
Friday, April 14 – 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dolphin Charters; GGAS leader to be announced

This trip is now FULL! You may sign up to be on the waiting list in case of cancellations.

This small salt water estuary off San Pablo Bay runs about 10 miles north through some of the last (mostly untouched) salt water marshes in the Bay Area. Onboard, our passengers enter a different world. Cruising down the Petaluma River and meandering past sloughs, oxbows and marshes, participants will experience these vital, aquatic links in our natural world. Boating makes accessible an intimate experience of this backwater, riparian world that lies beyond the end of the road. The boat continues out into San Pablo Bay where a different set of birds – grebes, ducks, and terns – can be seen in the shallow water habitat. The extensive mud flats along the edge of San Pablo Bay often host large numbers of shorebirds and the raptors that feed on them.

Depart and return: Petaluma Turning Basin. Registered participants will be sent directions to the marina plus other logistical information about a week before the trip. Limited to 27 people.

Cost: $90 for Golden Gate Audubon members; $100 for non-members. Click here to register. Once the trip is full, you may register for the waiting list.


Napa River: Birding By Boat
Sunday, May 7 – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Dolphin Charters; Pamela Llewellyn

This trip is now FULL! You may sign up to be on the waiting list in case of cancellations.

A cruise along the Napa River is like a voyage into the past. This trip begins at the historic Vallejo and Mare Island waterfronts and continues into a different worldof vineyards, backwater homes, and some of the largest contiguous marshes in the Bay Area.

Even before leaving the dock, diving ducks and grebes may be seen feeding in the river and marina.  Across the way at Mare Island, Ospreys and egrets attend to their nests.  Frequently a pair of Peregrine Falcons can be seen as the boat passes under the Highway 37 overpass. Just up-river, we cruise alongside the Napa/Sonoma marshes and one of the largest inter-tidal marsh restoration projects in the United States. This process greatly increases the food and habitat for not only birds, but also fish, amphibians and even smaller animals that help support us all.

Depart and return: Vallejo Marina. Registered participants will be sent directions to the marina plus other logistical information about a week before the trip. Limited to 27 people.

Cost: $80 for Golden Gate Audubon members; $90 for non-members. Click here to register. Once the trip is full, you may register for the waiting list.

NOTE: Dolphin Charters is donating all the proceeds from this trip to Golden Gate Audubon as one of our Birdathon corporate sponsors! Their generosity is only exceeded by their expert guiding.  🙂 


Yosemite’s Bird Life, Yosemite National Park
Friday — Sunday, June 2 – 4, 2017
Dave Quady, (510) 704-9353 or, and Dave Cornman.

This trip is now FULL but you may contact Dave to be put on a waiting list.

The lower and middle elevations of Yosemite National Park are alive with singing birds in late May/early June. Varied habitats on the west side of the park support a rich diversity of bird life, typically including seven flycatchers (three Empidonax), seven warblers, three vireos, and many other species in full song and breeding plumage. How did the two 2014 fires that swept through Foresta, and 2013’s Rim Fire affect the area’s bird life? Let’s see what we can learn.

This trip is limited to 20 participants; sign-ups begin at noon on November 15 – by email to only, please. Past participants have found it convenient to camp at Hodgdon Meadow in the park (reservations open January 15; campground fills up very fast), or to stay in campgrounds or commercial lodgings outside the park’s Big Oak Flat entrance. Details, including meeting times and locations and lodging suggestions, will be provided to confirmed participants. Carpooling encouraged.

Participants should bring warm clothes, rainwear, and waterproof boots for wet meadows. Bring lunches for Saturday and Sunday and be prepared to walk about three miles each day.


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.


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; 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 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.

We also post all our field trips on, which can be a convenient way to get reminders of each upcoming trip via email. See


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.