Bird watchers
The unCommon Marin Birdwatcher, seen here in its winter plumage, often gathers in flocks at the sides of local ponds around Marin County. Photo Maggie Rufo

Field Trips

Marin Audubon Field Trips are open to the public. Bring lunch, field guide, and binoculars.

Information & Questions:
Email:
Phone: 559-760-1551

Currently scheduled upcoming field trips are listed here by date in ascending order (i.e., soonest first). For a complete list of all past and currently scheduled field trips click here.

Birding in Marin Third Saturday Field Trip Series:  Jim White and Bob Battagin have graciously offered to lead a trip for Marin Audubon on the third Saturday of every month for 12 months. These trips are included in the list below. Click here for the complete list.

The Ponds at the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District (LGVSD)
Location: San Rafael, CA
Trip Leader(s): Susan Kelly & David Sexton & Greg Haskins
Host: Jane Medley, janermedley@gmail.com, 559-760-1551
Start Date: Thursday, May 4, 2017
Start Time: 9:00 AM
End Time: 12:00 PM
Description: Beginning birders are especially welcome on the first Thursday of each month for a leisurely walk around the Las Gallinas ponds. The area includes two treated wastewater storage ponds, a freshwater pond with islands for nesting habitat, and several miles of flat levee trails. It attracts thousands of birds, including waterfowl such as ducks, geese; waders such as herons and egrets; songbirds; as well as varied raptors. Birders were fewer than usual on our April walk (probably the rain), but our group enjoyed good views of a Virginia Rail and Sora along with numerous singing Marsh Wrens. Even our group's youngest birder, two-year old Sada, spotted birds -- a large overhead flock of what were probably crows. Each month seems to yield an interesting, and often unexpected, species, so come assist us in our search. We welcome bird enthusiasts of all levels. We all help each other to find and identify the birds, and there are usually several experienced birders to assist. You don't even have to arrive on time because we spend the first 30-60 minutes studying the birds around the first pond and the group is easy to find. Heavy rain cancels. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101, exit at Smith Ranch Rd. Drive east on Smith Ranch Road toward McInnis Park. Turn left immediately after crossing the railroad tracks and drive about .5 mile through the LGVSD gates and into the parking lot at the end of the road. Meet the group by the bridge just past the parking lot. There is an outhouse in the parking area for public use or you can use the bathrooms at nearby McInnis Park.

Pine Flat Road
Location: Sonoma County
Trip Leader(s): Lisa Hug
Host: Jane Medley, janermedley@gmail.com, 559-760-1551
Start Date: Friday, May 5, 2017
Start Time: 8:15 AM
End Time: 3:00 AM
Description: Pine Flat Road is located northeast of Healdsburg and has long been a local birding mecca. This road winds through open oak woodlands, gray pine forest, grasslands, and beautiful chaparral. It reaches an altitude of 2,279 feet. Bird specialties include Mountain Quail, Bell's Sparrow, California Thrasher, and Purple Martin. There are also possibilities of seeing Lazuli Buntings, Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Western Tanagers and many more spring specialties. You may also want to bring some wildflower books. Bring plenty of water, lunch, snacks, binoculars and a field guide or app. No restrooms available. However, the Jimtown Store is available at the end of the day. Heavy rain cancels. Directions: Take Hwy 101 north past Healdsburg to the Lytton Springs Rd. Exit toward Alexander Valley. Turn right on Healdsburg Ave. for about 0.7 miles. Turn left on Alexander Valley Rd. for 3.8 miles to Pine Flat Road. Alexander Valley Road is Highway 128 at this point. Not far past the Jimtown Store, Highway 128 makes a right angle turn to the south. Go straight ahead at this sharp curve to cross over to Pine Flat Road, which continues east. Be very careful at this intersection. We will meet on the corner of Pine Flat Road and Red Winery Road at the bottom of the hill at 8:15 to arrange carpools to the Mayacamas. Allow at least 1½ hours from central Marin.

Miwok Meadows
Location: China Camp State Park
Trip Leader(s): Matt Perry and Susan Kelly
Host: Jane Medley, janermedley@gmail.com, 559-760-1551
Start Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Start Time: 8:30 AM
End Time: 11:30 AM
Description: Miwok Meadows, on the east side of China Camp State Park, is somewhat off the beaten path and under-birded, but it is one of Matt Perry's favorite regular birding spots. Consisting of a relatively short, easily hiked loop, it offers a range of habitats, including the bay, marsh, oak savannah, and denser woods. Frequent highlights include Osprey, many woodpeckers, turkeys, many swallow and swift species, and usual woodland birds. Less common finds include Pileated Woodpecker, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Rarer birds, but not unheard of, include both Ridgway's Rail and Black Rail. In spring the trail should be filled with lovely birdsong and bustling activity -- and great views of yet another beautiful Marin landscape. Following our walk at Miwok Meadows, we will cross the street and hike the bay and marsh loop around Turtle Back Hill (.75 miles easy) with Susan Kelly. We'll watch for wildlife along this trail, which juts out into the salt marsh habitat along San Pablo Bay. This trail meets criteria for wheelchair access under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Directions: Take the Hwy 101 Exit onto North San Pedro Road. Follow North San Pedro Road approximately 2 miles to the Back Ranch Meadows Campground. There are two possible places to pay entrance fees depending on whether you want to park near the start or the end of our trip. If you wish to park near the starting location, turn right at the entrance to the Back Ranch Meadows Campground. Just past the campground kiosk, an Electronic Pay Station is located from which you can purchase a Parking and Trail Pass for $5 per vehicle, which includes trail access for all people in the vehicle. This pay station can accept credit cards or exact change. Continue 1.1 mile up the road to meet our group. If you wish to park near the ending location of our trip, continue on San Pedro Road approximately .5 mile past the campground and park adjacent to the roadside near Turtle Back Hill. On the right side of the road adjacent to the trailhead, there is a self-pay kiosk where you may purchase a Trail Only Pass for $3 per person. Exact change is needed at this "iron ranger" pay station. Walk approximately .2 miles to our meeting place at the Miwok Meadows Day-Use Area.

Thursday Morning Bird Songs, Part 1
Location: Five Brooks, Pt Reyes National Seashore
Trip Leader(s): Lisa Hug and Susan Kelly
Host: Jane Medley, janermedley@gmail.com, 559-760-1551
Start Date: Thursday, May 11, 2017
Start Time: 7:30 AM
End Time: 12:00 PM
Description: Spring is the best time of year to hear and learn bird songs. Males are full of hormones and bursting with song. Many neo-tropical migrants are returning and vying for mates and territories. It is a very exciting time of year. This walk will require participants to stay quiet to enable us to listen to the myriad of bird sounds. Bring comfortable walking shoes, layered clothing, water, binoculars, field guides and snacks. This trip is limited to 15 participants. To sign up, email Jane Medley at janermedley@gmail.com. Please include the trip name and your phone number. Participants will be contacted prior to the trip to confirm registration. A wait list will be created if registration exceeds available space. Directions: From Fairfax, take Sir Francis Drake Blvd approximately 15 miles. Turn left on Highway 1. Turn right at Five Brooks in 3.5 miles. We will meet at the Five Brooks parking area.

No. 5, Birding in Marin Series
Location: Muir Woods, Redwood Creek and Muir Beach
Trip Leader(s): Jim White and Bob Battagin
Host: Jane Medley, janermedley@gmail.com, 559-760-1551
Start Date: Saturday, May 13, 2017
Start Time: 8:00 AM
End Time: 3:00 PM
Description: Celebrate Global Big Day with Jim White and Bob Battagin as we visit Muir Woods, Redwood Creek, and Muir Beach at the height of breeding season in Marin. Starting the morning in Muir Woods, we will bird along Redwood Creek and hear the beautiful songs of Swainson's Thrushes, Black-headed Grosbeaks and Pacific Wrens, along with Warbling Vireos, Wilson's and Orange-crowned (perhaps MacGillivray's) Warblers. We will then check out the restored riparian area at Muir Beach and picnic there. Scanning the ocean we usually find Pigeon Guillemots, Common Murres, Pelagic and Brandt's Cormorants, grebes, loons and Black Oystercatchers. We plan to walk three miles. Bring bins, scopes, lunch, dress in layers and carpool if possible. Directions: Meet in the lower parking lot (sign says "Additional Parking") at Muir Woods. We are meeting one half hour earlier than usual so that we can all find places to park. From Highway 101 take the Mill Valley/Highway 1/Stinson Beach Exit. Follow the signs to Highway 1 and then to Muir Woods. The address is 1 Muir Woods Road, Mill Valley.

Tennessee Valley/Bay Model Art Exhibit
Location: Marin Headlands and Sausalito
Trip Leader(s): Jim White and Rita Sklar
Host: Jane Medley, janermedley@gmail.com, 559-760-1551
Start Date: Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Start Time: 8:30 AM
End Time: 12:00 PM
Description: Discover spring birds in the Tennessee Valley on this two-hour walk with Jim White. Help us look for breeding resident birds and possible migrants passing through the area as we walk through both riparian and chaparral habitats. A variety of passerines and raptors are possible. At approximately 10:30 AM we'll head to the Bay Model in Sausalito where we'll meet with artist Rita Sklar and view her watermedia paintings featured as part of the current "Vanishing Species exhibit. Rita's work highlights the vanishing birds and other wildlife of the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Her paintings depict the variation in shapes, colors, and patterns that birds present and are a reminder that like the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, the decline of wildlife is a wake-up call to take better care of our planet. Bring water, snacks, and binoculars. Restrooms are available. Directions: From Hwy 101, take the Stinson Beach exit. Turn left on Shoreline Highway in 0.1 miles. Turn left on Tennessee Valley Rd. in 0.3 miles. Take a slight right turn onto Tennessee Valley Road. We will meet at the parking lot at the end of the road for the hike. Picnic tables are available at the Bay Model for those who might like to picnic after our tour of Rita's exhibit.

Thursday Morning Bird Songs
Location: Big Rock Trailhead to Loma Alta Trail
Trip Leader(s): Lisa Hug and Susan Kelly
Host: Jane Medley, janermedley@gmail.com, 559-760-1551
Start Date: Thursday, May 18, 2017
Start Time: 7:30 AM
End Time: [not specified]
Description: For a description of this trip, see the write up on this page for Thursday Morning Bird Songs at Five Brooks scheduled for May 11, 2017. This outing is also limited to 15 participants. To sign up, email Jane Medley at janermedley@gmail.com. Please include the trip name and your phone number. Participants will be contacted prior to the trip to confirm registration. A wait list will be created if registration exceeds available spaces. Directions: From Highway 101 in San Rafael, take the exit for Lucas Valley Road west approximately 5.5 miles (look for the big rock). The trailhead is on the south side of Lucas Valley Road.

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