Discover the
Beauty of Birds

Birding and natural history classes, field reports, essays and tours around the Bay Area, California and the West with Ted Pierce.

Local Bay Area: Morning Birding Trips

These trips are set up to visit beautiful local parks for a pleasant morning outing. They have minimal amounts of walking at a relaxed pace over mostly level trails. Directions to the site will be sent at the time of payment. Registration per trip is $55, or with the Frequent Flyer Plan, $125 for a series of four, your choice.

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Fall 2021 Tours

Shorebirds at Shollenberger Park Wetlands, Petaluma

Sat. Oct. 9, 9am-12am
This several-hundred acre wetlands park along the Petaluma River is a wonderful setting for viewing a great array of birdlife year-round. Against a panoramic view of the Marin hills to the south, herons, blackbirds or sandpipers can often be seen flying over the ponds. Particularly in the fall and winter it hosts large numbers of herons, ducks, egrets, sandpipers, hawks, geese and swans. Additionally, many species of songbirds, including sparrows, finches, pipits, bluebirds and jays live in the thickets and woodlands around the ponds. It is also a good place to see Mute swans, the very impressive, large snow-white member of the wildfowl family. Altogether a very exciting place for birds this fall! Terrain is flat, making easy walking while the birds entertain us with their antics flying, swimming and feeding. Directions: going north to Petaluma, make a left from 101 (first exit in Petaluma, go east) on to 116, or Lakeville Hwy; drive several blocks to S. McDowell, right again short distance to Cader Lane, right into parking lot. Meet there. Check Google maps for more info; about a 30-45 minute drive from the East Bay. Very scenic, with good opportunities for landscape and bird photography. A typical number of species seen in a morning is about 30-40 different bird species.
Las Gallinas Wetlands, San Rafael
Sat. Nov. 6,  9am-12pm 
At Las Gallinas hundreds of acres of grasslands, ponds and marshes extend around a small water treatment facility. In the distance, the marshes are surrounded by the beautiful hills of Marin. It is an idyllic location. Acre for acre, it has some of the greatest diversity of birdlife I’ve ever seen, a favorite fall and winter resort for ducks, herons, egrets, shorebirds, raptors and songbirds. Harriers, Red-tails, White-tail kites, almost 10 species of ducks, pelicans, grebes, rails -- all are found here, and numbers are frequently impressive. Join us for a leisurely, 1-2 mile walking tour around the ponds. Total species observed usually over 30, up to 50. Great bird photography! From the East Bay cross the Richmond Bridge, take 101 north and make a right at Smith Ranch Road (just north of San Rafael) to the entrance of McGuiness Park, where you make a left into the facility. Meet in the parking lot at the end of the road.

Birds of the Alameda Shoreline & Crown Beach

Sat. Dec. 4, 9am-12pm 
The Alameda shoreline, with miles of white sandy beaches and stunning views of the bay, is one of our local treasures. Just a short drive through the tube from downtown Oakland, in the winter it is a magnet for literally tens of thousands of shorebirds -- dunlin, godwits, peeps, terns, Willets, curlews, plover, Avocets and stilts! During a morning walk we usually see over at least 40 different species of shorebirds, with egrets, pelicans, grebes and ducks also in view. It’s all part of a relaxing morning of salt air and panoramic views of the bay. Good bird photo opportunities with very moderate walking. From downtown Oakland, take the Webster street tube (tunnel) and continue straight about 15 or so blocks on Webster to Central, make right one block to McKay; make quick left. Go one long block to park entrance on left or park in street. Meet in lot by the (outstanding) Nature Center.

Winter-Spring 2022 Tours

Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont
Sat. Feb. 5, 9am-12pm
This large regional park in Fremont (East Bay, north of San Jose) has everything: extensive cat-tail marshes, grasslands, hills and woodlands. It also has an outstanding Visitors’ Center, with dioramas and large frescos depicting birds, wildlife and Native Americans in ancient times. As a result of the different habitats, Coyote Hills teems with birds of all kinds. These include hawks, woodpeckers, shorebirds, ducks, owls and many songbirds. Frequently found are Green-wing and Cinnamon Teal, herons, egrets, White Pelicans, harriers and White-Tail Kites. Songbirds include warblers, thrushes, sparrows, Marsh Wrens, Western Bluebirds and Red-wing Blackbirds, among many. Great Horned Owls are resident and occasionally seen hiding in the eucalyptus trees. Walking is about 1-2 miles, mostly flat, with an occasional hill. Good landscape and bird photography. Species usually total 30-40 for a morning. Directions from Oakland: take 880 south to the Dumbarton Bridge (84) exit, then right a short distance to the Paseo Padre Parkway exit (turn before the bridge!) The park entrance is less than a half mile ahead on the left, at Patterson Ranch Road. Meet at the parking lot at the Visitor’s Center (found at the end of the park entrance road). Parking fee.

Baylands Nature Preserve, Palo Alto
Sat. March 5, 9am-12pm
Home to thousands of migratory birds over the winter, this section of the Palo Alto marshes and shoreline has some of the greatest concentrations of wildfowl, shorebirds, raptors and waders of any in the Bay Area. Herons and egrets, stilts, Avocets, rails and shorebirds, terns, kites and harriers, Cinnamon and Green-winged teal, Canvasback and Ruddy ducks, among many others, are common from fall to early spring. Even an occasional Occasionally a Peregrine falcon or Burrowing owl can be seen near Ground squirrel burrows. We usually see more than 40 species in a morning. We stroll about a mile among the marsh trails, stopping and looking as we go. From the East Bay take the Dumbarton Bridge (84) across the bay to 101 and south to Oregon; exit and go left over the freeway, and follow the road past the little airport and park by the wading pool (full of ducks). Meet at the pool.

Sunol: Alameda’s Hidden Wilderness
Sat. April 2, 9am-12pm
Tucked away east of Fremont, in south-east Alameda County, is Sunol Regional Park, perhaps the most beautiful and wild of Alameda’s nature preserves. Covered in oak woodlands, surrounded by high crags and bisected by Alameda Creek, it is home to a great variety of birds, small mammals, butterflies and other wildlife. As we walk through the woodlands that line the creek, we hear the cackling of Acorn woodpeckers and see flycatchers, nuthatches, vireos, warblers and wrens flitting through the trees. On the hillsides several kinds of swallows cut their graceful patterns in the sky, accompanied by Western bluebirds and noisy Ravens. And occasionally we can see, soaring in the big open sky along the cliffs, Golden eagles, Red-tails and White-tailed Kites. Only one word sums up this secluded natural treasure: extraordinary! Great landscape photography opportunities. (Parking fee) For lunch try Sunol, a tiny nearby village, or the little town of Niles with their museum of silent film. (Charlie Chaplin once walked these streets!)

Mt. Diablo State Park: Monarch of the East Bay
Sat. May 7, 10am-1pm
At nearly 4,000 feet, Mt. Diablo sits in solitary splendor high above Contra Costa county, monarch of all it surveys. So high much of northern California can be seen from its summit, as well as, on a clear day, the Sierra Nevada! In addition to the extraordinary views, the great mountain has many bird and wildlife species and a great variety of wildflowers. On this morning tour we’ll explore the mountain’s birdlife, woodlands and wildflowers on the way to the summit. Once there we’ll roam the Visitors’ Center, which has many exhibits that explain the mountain’s history and geology. Birds of all kinds, such as Acorn woodpeckers, Peregrine falcons, bluebirds, warblers, nuthatches, Cliff and Barn swallows, Red-tailed hawks and Golden eagles can be seen on its slopes and woodlands. Great nature and landscape photography opportunities! Meet at the North Gate entrance where the tour begins. From Oakland/Berkeley take 24 to Walnut Creek, exit on Ygnacio Valley Road, stay on til Walnut Avenue, continue for short distance and make right to North Gate Road, continue to park entrance. Allow one hour driving time. State Park entrance fee.

More Excursions

Local Bay Area: Morning Birding Tours

All-Day Birding Excursions

Weekend Birding Tours

Weeklong National Birding Tours

Tour Information
What to Expect

All trips and tours are at a relaxed pace and usually involve minimal walking on mostly flat terrain; where slopes may be involved, it is indicated. The safety and comfort of tour participants are always first priority. There are no rain dates; if trips are cancelled, fees will be returned or may be applied to future outings.

What to Bring

In general, for shorter trips and tours (up to four days) bring binoculars and whatever snacks, lunch and drinks you wish. If you desire to carpool, I will try to put you in contact with other trip participants, but I cannot guarantee transportation to the site. We will wait 15 minutes after the trip starting time for everyone to assemble and then head out, but it is the responsibility of the client to reach the starting location on time. Refunds will be made, minus a $25 processing fee, up to two weeks prior to the date of the trip. After this time any refund will be at the discretion of the tour operator (Ted Pierce), or may be applied to a future trip or tour. If minimum group tour size is not reached, a trip or tour may be cancelled, or an additional fee charged. Directions and any other necessary information will be sent by email at the time of registration and payment.

Additional Information

For longer tours (up to fourteen days), an itinerary and release form will be sent prior to registration that will provide helpful information and will summarize all terms and conditions. Please contact me for any additional questions about trips or tours you may have, and I will be happy to answer them.