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Berkeley in November

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Old Friday 1st July 2016, 17:26   #1
Kibet
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Berkeley in November

I am planning to be over in Berkeley in late November for a couple of weeks. I will likely be staying around the university area. I will have quite a few days birding, although will not be using a hire car (walking, and public transport (possibly Taxis)).

I am using eBirds (although possibly too much information when not looking for target species), golden gate aubudon society past field trips and posts on here to select different locations. I am not going after specific species, as most species will be new to me. I do photography too, but happy for record shots if light is poor.

A few sites already on the list of possible places is Claremont Canyon, UC Botanical Gardens and Tilden. Any other possible suggestions or favourite places, let me know (or even 'must-sees'). Trip is months away so feel free to reply at anytime. I may also consider using a local guide too if recommended.

Thank you in advance.
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Old Thursday 25th August 2016, 12:32   #2
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I have managed to put a list together of possible locations, and now will have to go through and discard ones that are not easily reachable without a car.

The list so far, and in no particular order, are Tilden Nature Area (Jewel Lake, Nimitz way, Sylvan trail), Botanical Gardens (SF and UCB), Lake Merritt/Lakeside Park, Hillside Nature Area, Arrowhead Marsh, San Jaoquin National Wildlife Sanctuary, Telegraph Hill, McLaughlin Eastshore State Park and Berkeley Pier, Fort Mason, Point Pinole, San Pablo bay. I may also choose to do a pelagic.

I have figured that it would be better to have too many places rather than not enough, especially when I have to reduce them for accessibility issue. It is looking likely that I will need to bring my scope across, especially for the shore and bay areas. If one of the areas is particularly good, I will revisit. At least with so long to plan, I have plenty time to do plan bit by bit.
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Old Thursday 25th August 2016, 13:03   #3
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I can vouch for Arrowhead Marsh, it's one of my favorite local spots (I live about 15 minutes away by car).

If you want to see white pelicans, cormorants in profusion, and night herons, you'll like Oakland's Lake Merritt (specifically the Wildlife Sanctuary portion) as well.

If you like raptors, then the migration starts in September and you might consider Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands, especially when the weekly show-n-tell starts.
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Old Thursday 25th August 2016, 17:00   #4
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Thank you Calvinfold for the recommendations. I have added Hawk Hill to the list. I have also added Huckleberry Botanic as it seems like it would be a good spot.
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Old Monday 5th September 2016, 11:57   #5
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Don't forget the bart. one of my nephews graduated from berkley..... so I know the area a little. You really need a car to get to many of the prime areas in central California though. The uni probably has an agreement and associated CDP code with a major car rental agency which covers insurance and drivers under 25. You could also try bridingpal or maybe someone local who visits this forum could take you out? - I think there is a section for that..
ebird is your best resource. Also if you use calls and get lazy, in CA the western screech owl call will bring lots of birds in to mob it... it goes without saying don't overuse though.
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Old Monday 5th September 2016, 12:57   #6
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Thank you Cassowary.

I am seeing some places being out of reach by public transport (BART included) and realise it will be difficult without a car. I will be bringing my driving licence just in case anyway if I change my mind, although preference is not to drive (UK driving is stressful enough).

I have had a quick look at Birdingpal again, and may use it after I am back from other trips.
Thank you again.
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Old Thursday 20th October 2016, 18:12   #7
Kibet
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Plans are coming together and decided to stay in SF for the first few nights.
For SF Area from Friday 18th November
El Polin Spring/Crissy Field/Fort Mason
Saturday
SF Botanical Garden + other local area if needed.
Sunday
Buena Vista Park
Monday
Hawk Hill
From Tuesday - Thursday 1st December I will be at Berkeley
Quite flexible with location days and may duplicate some if areas are good. The only fixed one is for Thanksgiving where I will do:
McLaughlin East Shore State Park
The other areas will be
UCB Botanical Gardens
Lake Merritt
Tilden Nature Area
Lake Temescal
For Sunday 27th I have also selected
Arrowhead Marsh

I will then finish it off with 2nd-4th December in Stockton with a work colleague, who works in the Bay area.

For Shore areas - can I get away without a scope? It will make travel easier but not sure how much will be out of bins/camera (400mm) range to properly identify?

Also, if anyone does fancy joining me, just let me know. I am a gentle stroller and also a watcher, so may not be best for fast pace people.
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Old Thursday 20th October 2016, 20:53   #8
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If memory serves, Sundays are the day to go to Hawk Hill, but I can't find the links to the guided viewing days where they actually bring a hawk for release. Sorry I can't give more info at the moment.

Since the 27th is on a Sunday, might be able to meet-up with you and Arrowhead Marsh if you're interested, we live about 15 minutes from there. We're by know means "birders" in the normal sense, we just like to walk around and photograph "targets of opportunity" while enjoying the outdoor time. :)
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Old Friday 21st October 2016, 07:09   #9
Kibet
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Thanks Calvinfold. That first sunday will be a bit of a stretch for Hawk Hill as I have an event at 1600, and never want to rush. If no Hawks are flying over on Monday because of weather, or a heavy weekend, then at least I will hopefully have a nice view and see something on the way up.

27th would be good. I will contact closer the time to check if you guys are still able to come along and where to meet. I am opportunistic too, if I don't get that picture, then so be it. There is always next time (or not).

Paraphrasing Leslie Neilsen, I don't try to do good bird photography to feel bad, I do bad bird photography but feel good!
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Old Tuesday 15th November 2016, 07:32   #10
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With only a couple of days to go, I have filled out my Google Calendar with the various trips and locations. I have modified some trips so I can join the Golden Gate Audubon Society (GGAS)walks.
Trips are as follows:
Thurs 17th Nov - Arrive and if not too tired, I will go to the evening GGAS talk on owls
Fri 18th Nov - Corona Heights (GGAS) - Buena Vista Park - Haight St (not birding)
Sat 19th Nov - El Polin Spring - Crissy Field - Fort Mason
Sun 20th Nov - Fort Mason (GGAS)
Mon 21st Nov - Hawk Hill
Tues 22nd Nov - San Francisco Botanical Garden - Move to Berkeley
Wed 23rd Nov - Lake Merritt (GGAS)
Thurs 24th Nov - Cesar Chavez Park - McLaughlin Eastshore SP - Berkeley Pier
Fri 25th Nov - UCB Botanical Gardens
Sat 26th Nov - UCB Campus (GGAS) - Claremont Canyon
Sun 27th Nov - Garretson Point - Arrowhead Marsh (GGAS) (Calvinfold, as there is the GGAS walk at the same time, do you want to join that?)
Mon 28th Nov - Tilden Nature Area
Tues 29th Nov - Contingency day (for revisit to somewhere if needed)
Wed 30th Nov - Contingency Day
Thurs 1st Dec - Lake Temescal
Fri 2nd Dec - Tilden Nature Area (GGAS) - move to Stockton
Sat 3rd Dec - Stockton
Sun 4th Dec - Stockton and fly out.

I will be able to visit most of these places by public transport, which is one of the good things about Google Calendar. I can just click on the appointment, hit map and then see the public transport. As mentioned, anyone want to join any trips, feel free to let me know.
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Old Tuesday 15th November 2016, 15:39   #11
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Hey Kibet,

Can you provide a URL or Meetup or something for that GGAS walk on the 27th? We usually don't go on the GGAS walks because we're more into the photos than the intricacies of birding (out of respect for folks' hobby), but to meet a fellow Bird Forum member would certainly be a worthy exception!

We're open that day and close by, so would be fun. :)
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Old Wednesday 16th November 2016, 07:39   #12
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GGAS Walks can be found here.

I think the walks can seem relaxed, so if we want to split to spend more time on photography, I would be happy to do that too. I should have a better idea as by that point, I will have been on about 4 walks at that time.
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Old Thursday 17th November 2016, 19:22   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kibet View Post
GGAS Walks can be found here.

I think the walks can seem relaxed, so if we want to split to spend more time on photography, I would be happy to do that too. I should have a better idea as by that point, I will have been on about 4 walks at that time.
See you there.
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Old Saturday 26th November 2016, 03:42   #14
Kibet
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So I am halfway through my trip, and about to move to my last hotel (still in Berkeley). Most of the above Itinerary happened as mentioned. I was so impressed with Fort Mason and Crissy Field (getting completely soaked in the rain on the weekend, making me lose an hour of hawk hill birding as the sun dried out the lens when it misted up with the higher temperature), that I chose to revisit them on Tuesday when it was sunny, including El Polin Spring, where I was stalked by a Coyote (YIKES!) (also got harassed at my hotel by a gang ...of Raccoons).

Some changes based on other birders offering additional heads up about other trips. I will head to Las Gallinas on the Thursday 1st December as part of the Marin Audubon society group on people I met on Hawk Hill - and so I am moving Lake Temescal to the Wednesday 30th November. Tuesday 29th November, I will join the Tuesday4birdfriends group down at East Avenue Park in Hayward. UCB BG was quite sparse for birds (time of year?) other than Steller's Jay standing out, and East Shore was quite good, especially when I found a Cedar Waxwing hotspot but may not need a revisit. So far, most bird trips have cost me less than 5 bucks (transport), with my most expensive one being 20 bucks for getting to Hawk Hill (Got a lift back from a kind local birder). So fairly happy to spend a little more to go further afield for a couple of days.
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Old Monday 28th November 2016, 13:32   #15
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I will be doing a report of the trip, but this picture yesterday was so good not to share just now. This was taken as we headed to the cars to finish the walk at Arrowhead Marsh.

Calvinfold, It was really nice to meet you!
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Old Monday 28th November 2016, 13:32   #16
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Kibet,

Was a pleasure to meet you at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline; first time I've met a BirdForum member face-to-face. First time I've been on a "bird walk" as well. Shame Tammy (my girlfriennd) couldn't make it to meet you.

Hope the rest of your trip goes well, and isn't too wet. I look forward to that trip report your were talking about!
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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 04:24   #17
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I'm glad that you are enjoying your visit. It's always encouraging to read that locals like to help out visitors.

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Old Tuesday 13th December 2016, 07:22   #18
Kibet
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Thank you Calvinfold and Wim.

Full trip report on the Birdforum can be found here.

Images that I took can be found here.
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