Join Naturalist Journeys and artists Keith Hansen and Patricia Briceño on this fantastic Marin County fall birding tour. A one-stop, unpack and relax trip, we enjoy exclusive accommodations on a houseboat barge right on the edge of Bolinas Lagoon, a special opportunity courtesy of our guides.
Search for Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, and warblers in the forest, while scoping White-winged Scoter and Red-necked Grebe along the coast. Watch for Elephant Seal at the Point Reyes Peninsula. Enjoy waterfront views, the sounds of gulls and shorebirds, and local fresh and organic foods.
This is an incredible California birding trip, and we are so excited to offer you this fun opportunity.
- Take your morning coffee on deck, with sights of pelicans, gulls, terns, and other shore and water birds
- Bird Bolinas Lagoon, Duxbury Reef, Pine Gulch Creek, and what birding trip would be complete without a trip to the local water treatment ponds
- Explore the Outer Point Reyes Peninsula for rare migrants isolated on the rugged outer parts of the peninsula
- Visit Keith Hansen’s gallery to see his many amazing works
- Spend time at Abbott’s Lagoon looking for unusual waterfowl, shorebirds, and birds of prey
- Stroll Limantour Beach looking for Snowy Plover, White-winged Scoter, and Red-necked Grebe … there are always a few surprises along the way
Sun., Sept. 27: Arrival in the Bay Area | Shuttle to Marin | Welcome to the Barge!
Plan to arrive today to Bolinas, California by 3:00 PM. The closest airport is San Francisco (SFO) and from this airport you can take the handy Marin Airporter (see travel details at the end of this itinerary) to meet your guides Keith and Patricia to start a great week of birding the Bay area. Today is an easy day to accommodate arrivals and enjoy a welcome dinner on the Barge, where Keith has amassed an impressive yard list of birds! For this NEW! Naturalist Journeys tour, you unpack once and find an immediate sense of home. Enjoy waterfront views, the sounds of gulls and shorebirds, and local fresh foods prepared for you as you get to know your travel companions and guides.
Accommodations for the next six nights are on this private waterfront barge in Bolinas, California (D)
Mon., Sept. 28: Local Bolinas Birding Hotsports
Today is an easy “get your feet on the ground” kind of day. Enjoy breakfast on the deck as Brown Pelican, various gulls, terns, and other Bolinas Lagoon birds make their presence known. We bird the Bolinas and Bolinas Lagoon area, visiting some of Keith’s favorite and regular birding spots, including Duxburry Reef for sea birds and possibly whales, Pine Gulch Creek for migrant song birds and water birds, the Bolinas Water Treatment Ponds for various shorebirds and ducks, then other local hotspots where we hear of recent activity. We break for lunch and dinner at the barge. In the evening, Keith presents an introductory “Birds of West Marin" program.
Accommodations on the barge (B,L,D)
Tues., Sept. 29: Outer Point Reyes Peninsula
We want to be up very early, as today we head north to the Outer Point Reyes Peninsula. We enjoy breakfast in the dining room or on deck. In the scenic coastal headlands and ranching country inland, we bird the migrant hot spots, driving from one ranch to the next to walk and explore. Point Reyes is well known for harboring rare or lost birds that have become isolated on the rugged outer parts of the peninsula. Keith has lived there for several decades, so his network is great to know where the bird movements are happening. Lunch, weather permitting, will be picnic style at the Fish Docks. While eating, we look for Elephant Seal and scan for ocean loons, scoters and guillemots.
After lunch, we continue birding toward Hearts Desire Beach for a chance to find additional coastal and forest species such as chickadees, sparrows, warblers, and woodpeckers.
We then make time to stop in Bolinas to visit Keith’s gallery, a great place to see his artwork and see some of the field guide plates he created for Birds of the Sierra Nevada. Keith spends many days here, opening people’s eyes to the amazing world of birding right out the door. We arrive back in time for evening cocktails and dinner at the Barge.
Accommodations on the barge (B,L,D)
Wed., Sept. 30: Abbott’s Lagoon | Free Afternoon in Bolinas | Evening with a Local Birding Celebrity
Again today, we enjoy an early breakfast on the deck with music provided by the birds. We then have a 40- minute drive to Abbott’s Lagoon. Here, we walk at a leisurely pace, two to three miles to the lake and lagoon in search of rare and unusual waterfowl, shorebirds, and birds of prey such as Merlin, Northern Harrier, and Peregrine, perhaps even an early Ferruginous Hawk.
We are typically done here at Abbott’s Lagoon by noon and before heading on to the next spots, where we have tasty nibbles on the tailgate to tide us over. We then head back to Bolinas for a full late lunch and a free afternoon. The rest of the day can be spent relaxing, enjoying a beach walk, enjoying the town or even a nap. We gather for another delicious catered dinner at the Barge and after dinner a talk by a local bird celebrity.
Accommodations on the barge (B,L,D)
Thurs., Oct. 1: Limantour Beach | Earthquake Trail
We wake up early to our gull-sound natural alarm clocks and enjoy breakfast on the Barge — by now this is our daily rhythm. We then drive to Limantour Beach for a delightful and easy-going stroll down a beautiful sandy strand searching for sea birds, shore birds, and waterfowl. Snowy Plover, White-winged Scoter, and Red-necked Grebe are often found here, and there are always a few surprises.
Next, we drive to Bear Valley Headquarters for a picnic lunch under the impressive Redwoods where Acorn Woodpecker and Pygmy Nuthatch will keep us company. We then walk on the Earthquake Trail for songbirds such as thrushes and vireos. Nuttall’s Woodpecker reside here in the Alder and Willow forest. If time permits, we can visit the headquarters where there is an excellent interpretive center and gift shop.
In the late afternoon, we return to our comfortable home on the water. Tonight, we go into Bolinas to sample a favorite local restaurant.
Accommodations on a the barge (B,L,D)
Fri., Oct. 2: Las Gallinas Water Treatment Plant | Stafford Lake | Rush Creek
Another beautiful morning begins with birding and breakfast at the Barge. We then head to the east side of the county to the Las Gallinas Water Treatment Plant for numerous waterfowl, herons, and shorebirds. Keith will scope a wide variety of species, sharing his identification tips and skills.
Next, we drive a short distance to Stafford Lake for various water birds and “East Side" land birds. Enjoy a picnic or nearby restaurant lunch.
Our next stop takes us to Rush Creek, where we train our scopes on shorebirds, shorebirds, and more shorebirds, a fabulous chance to work with this often difficult, group. Fall migration brings juveniles in fresh plumage as well as adults in worn, giving us a great chance to hone our skills.
Then it’s back to the Barge. Tonight, we do our final checklist and enjoy a last celebratory dinner at the Barge. Accommodations on the barge (B,L,D)
Sat., Oct. 3: Departures
We enjoy one last breakfast at the Barge before our flock disperses today. We coordinate the morning with Marin Airporter schedules that match up to outbound flights. Please check these before you make travel plans, in general flights out after NOON are best, though earlier may be accommodated; please check in with us first on these. Those driving can depart at their own leisure. (B)
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the main journeys is $2590 DBL / $3140 SGL, based on double occupancy, from Bolinas, California. This cost includes: accommodations for six nights, meals as specified in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), land transportation during the journeys, professional guide services, park and other entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses.
Cost does not include: round-trip airfare to and from San Francisco, transportation on the Marin Airporter or rental car (if you prefer), items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, and gratuities for luggage handling or personal services.
The airport for this tour is San Francisco International (SFO). Please plan on taking the Marin Airporter (or renting a car if you wish) to Marin, getting off at the Manzanita stop, where you will be picked up by Keith and Patricia. Please plan to meet Keith and Patricia no later than 3:00 PM on September 27. Please plan on departures after noon on October 3.
Photo credits: Banner: California Sunset by Greg Smith; California Quail by Steve Wolfe; Houseboat on Bolinas Bay by Keith Hansen; Black Oystercatcher by Steve Wolfe; Elephant Seals at Sunset by Greg Smith; Steller's Jay by Peg Abbott; Long-billed Curlew by Ed Pembleton; Humpback Whale by Greg Smith; Red-necked Grebe by Peg Abbott; California Scrub Jay by Greg Smith; Ferruginous Hawk by Greg Smith; Double-crested Cormorant by Greg Smith; Black-crowned Night-Heron by Greg Smith; California Towhee, Naturalist Journeys Stock.