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:
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.

Left of the Fault - Point Reyes Big Day Blast
Location: Pt Reyes National Seashore
Trip Leader(s): Keith Hansen
Host: Rich Cimino,, (925) 353-0266
Start Date: Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Start Time: 7:30 AM
End Time: 5:00 PM
Description: Join renowned bird artist Keith Hansen for a full, fine-feathered day of fall birding at Point Reyes. Sometimes thought of as "too late" for fall migrants, November is often an under-appreciated time for finding rare birds. We will attempt to see at least 100 species "west of the San Andreas Fault!" We will meet in Point Reyes Station and carpool to the Outer Point hitting as many of the migrant traps as is possible. Time permitting we'll increase the list by hitting the Teal Ponds, Heart's Desire Beach, and maybe Bear Valley and Five Brooks. This is an all day trip that is not for the faint of heart or those just looking for a leisurely bird walk. Bring a lunch and plenty of liquids. Be dressed for good, to less than good weather. Feel free to bring a scope. Only a big storm will cause us to cancel. There is no charge for this trip but signup is required as the number of participants is limited to 15. Contact Rich Cimino between 9 AM on Monday, October 10, and 5 PM on Friday, October 26, if you wish to sign up. Rich can be reached at or (925) 353-0266. Trip slots will be filled by Rich AFTER 5 PM on October 26, and participants will be contacted by him. Any vacant slots after that will be allotted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Ponds at the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District
Location: San Rafael, CA
Trip Leader(s): Susan Kelly, Len Blumin and friends
Host: Jane Medley,, 559-760-1551
Start Date: Thursday, November 3, 2016
Start Time: 9:00 AM
End Time: 12:00 PM
Description: The Las Gallinas ponds are the birding community's nickname for the treatment ponds and surrounding agricultural fields and tidal marsh at LGVSD's Wastewater Treatment Reclamation Project. 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 such as blackbirds, wrens, sparrows, and finches; hawks such as Northern Harriers, White-tailed Kites, and Red-tailed Hawks; and falcons such as Kestrel, Merlin, and Peregrine Falcon. The Audubon Society has cataloged over 200 species of birds within the area and eBird currently lists over 237. Let's see how many we can find! We welcome bird enthusiasts of all levels. Especially good for beginners, this casual walk on two miles of flat trails is fun and informative. 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. LGVSD provides these trails for public access and as part of the 500-mile San Francisco Bay Trail (see What to bring: Plenty of water and snacks; Binoculars and your bird guide, if you have them. If you’d like a copy of the eBird checklist for Las Gallinas, email Susan at Directions: From Hwy. 101 exit at Smith Ranch Rd. and drive east on Smith Ranch Rd., 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.

Children's Trip to Las Gallinas Storage Ponds: Golden Gate Audubon
Location: Las Gallinas Storage Ponds, San Rafael, CA
Trip Leader(s): Eugenia Caldwell and Pauline Grant
Host: Eugenia Caldwell and Pauline Grant, (Eugenia) or 415-990-1291 (Pauline)
Start Date: Saturday, November 12, 2016
Start Time: 9:00 AM
End Time: 11:00 AM
Description: THIS FIELD TRIP IS DESIGNED FOR CHILDREN AGES 8 AND UP, CHILDREN WITH EITHER NO EXPERIENCE BIRDING OR LIMITED EXPERIENCE BIRDING. The focus of this outing will be wintering ducks and geese - birds that sit still longer than tree birds!! Some typical species for these ponds: Ruddy Duck, Common Merganser, American Wigeon, Bufflehead, Canvasback, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Scaup. We will begin with a quick explanation of how to use binoculars (a few loaner pairs will be available during the field trip) and some basic information on how to identify birds. RSVP required. Maximum 15 participants. An adult must accompany children under 12. Dress in layers, bring binoculars if you have them, sunscreen, water, sturdy shoes, and a hat, and be prepared for rain showers. Heavy rain will cancel the trip. Directions: from Highway 101 take the Smith Ranch Road exit, then go east on Smith Ranch toward the McInnis Park entrance. Turn left immediately after crossing the railroad tracks, staying on Smith Ranch, and go about .5 miles to the end of the road, at the Las Gallinas Ponds parking lot. Meet the group by the short concrete bridge that connects to the first pond. The bridge is right next to the parking lot closest to the ponds. Rest room facilities only at the parking area at the entrance to the golf course (not near the storage ponds). Map:

Laguna de Santa Rosa
Location: Sonoma County
Trip Leader(s): Lisa Hug
Host: Jane Medley,, 559-760-1551
Start Date: Sunday, November 13, 2016
Start Time: 8:30 AM
End Time: 12:00 PM
Description: We will join Lisa for a leisurely 2 miile loop walk starting at the Laguna de Santa Rosa Trailhead Parking Lot. The trail is fairly flat and goes through open meadow, abuts a riparian forest along the Laguna channel and around a lovely pond. We may see White-tailed Kites, Red-shouldered Hawks, Lincoln’s Sparrows, Western Bluebirds, Pied-billed Grebes and any number of surprises. Bring binoculars, water, snacks, and layered clothing. There is a restroom available. The walk should last about three and a half hours. We may explore a few other areas afterwards for people who want to continue birding. DIRECTIONS: From Marin, take US-101 North. Take Exit 488B to merge onto CA-12 toward Sebastopol. The Laguna de Santa Rosa Trailhead is on Highway 12, about 1 mile east of Sebastopol. It is between Llano Road and Morris Street on the north side of the road.

Las Gallinas Storage Ponds and Hamilton Wetlands, No 11 Birding in Marin Series
Location: Las Gallinas Storage Ponds, San Rafael, CA
Trip Leader(s): Jim White and Bob Battagin
Host: Jane Medley,, 559-760-1551
Start Date: Saturday, November 19, 2016
Start Time: 8:30 AM
End Time: 3:00 PM
Description: The Las Gallinas ponds are a great place for good views of many kinds of ducks and raptors. This is an easy 1.5-mile walk where many other species may be seen, including Ridgway's Rails and Soras. After a lunch break we will go to the Hamilton Wetlands in Novato. This extensive wetland was recently reconnected with the Bay after two decades of planning and work. The wetlands were diked off at the turn of the 19th century, cutting off an important area for thousands of migrating waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway. The birds are now returning in big numbers. We will see the waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and other species that are now making these new wetlands their home. DIRECTIONS: We will meet at Las Gallinas. From Hwy 101, take the Smith Ranch Road exit east toward McInnis Park. Turn left immediately after crossing the railroad tracks and continue about 0.5 mile to the Las Gallinas Ponds parking lot at the end of the road.

Corte Madera Marsh
Location: Corte Madera, CA
Trip Leader(s): Roger Harris and Meryl Sundove
Host: Jane Medley,, 559-760-1551
Start Date: Sunday, November 20, 2016
Start Time: 1:00 PM
End Time: 3:30 PM
Description: Major concentrations of shorebirds and ducks visit this marsh and the associated mudflats on their annual migrations up and down the Pacific Flyway. Many will be settling in for a winter at the marsh. Join our leaders Roger and Meryl, who have lived by this marsh for over 30 years. Marin Audubon owns three properties in this marsh complex, the recently acquired 5.2-acre Corte Madera Ecological Reserve, the 31-acre Triangle Marsh, and a one-acre parcel at the end of Channel Drive where we will be meeting. We will walk along San Clemente Creek as we watch waves of sandpipers and other waterbirds fly from the bay mudflats to the high tide refuge of the marsh. Then after the tide has risen further, we will walk to a tidal channel and perhaps see the endangered Ridgway's Rail, which is common in this marsh. Any number of raptors and ducks can be expected. In addition to hearing about the remarkable history of this wetland and observing the behavior of wildlife, we will also address coastal ecology. Total distance walked on level but potentially muddy levees will be about a mile. Heavy rain cancels. Bring binoculars and, if you have one, a spotting scope. There are no restroom facilities in the marsh and even tall bushes are at a premium. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101, take Exit 449A at Tamalpais Drive in Corte Madera; go east 0.2 mile toward the bay; turn right at the Home Consignment Store and go 0.4 mile on San Clemente Drive; make the first left onto Harbor Drive for 0.2 mile; turn right onto Yolo Street for 400 feet. Then turn left onto Channel Drive. We will meet where the road dead ends at the marsh.

Christmas Bird Count Practice
Location: Las Gallinas Storage Ponds, San Rafael, CA
Trip Leader(s): Susan Kelly
Host: Jane Medley,, 559-760-1551
Start Date: Sunday, November 27, 2016
Start Time: 1:00 PM
End Time: 4:00 PM
Description: If you are participating in a Christmas Bird Count, thinking about participating, or just wondering what this is all about, join Susan Kelly for a hands-on training session. Susan is the organizer and compiler of the Cheep Thrills Christmas Bird Count in Northern Marin. We will meet at Las Gallinas at the picnic tables by Pond 1. We'll spend about 30 minutes talking about the process. The talk will cover: 1) how we divide the count circle into areas and cover each area with a team of 2 to 12, each with an experienced leader; 2) how we record all birds seen and/or heard on the field form (One person in each group is responsible for this and also must keep track of time spent birding while walking, driving around, riding a bike, or any other method they use.); and 3) how to estimate the number of birds in large flocks such as robins, blackbirds, crows, geese, and ducks. We will then walk around the pond and count the birds, recording them on the Cheep Thrills field form (Each person will receive a copy.) If we have time, we may go into an area with trees and try counting the small birds there. Please bring binoculars, water, snacks, and a pen or pencil to record the birds you count. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101, take the Smith Ranch Road exit east toward McInnis Park. Turn left immediately after crossing the railroad tracks and continue about 0.5 mile to the Las Gallinas Ponds parking lot at the end of the road.

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