Birding Locations

Locations of most sites mentioned in “notable birds”. This list describes the sites mentioned in the rarity reports and represents some of the better birding sites in Marin County. Sites are not defined in any standard way and vary tremendously in size. Most descriptions end with the coordinates on the most detailed AAA map of the area; for large sites, the coordinates are those most likely to produce rare birds. Sites in eastern and central Marin County are listed first, followed by birding spots in West Marin.

East and Central Marin: San Francisco and San Pablo Bay Shorelines

Bahia: 632 acres purchased by MAS, 250-acre Black-oak wooded hills now owned by the Marin County Open Space District, 317 acres owned by Department of Fish and Game and approximately 15 acres restored to marsh in 2008.

Blackie’s Pasture: A recreational area in Tiburon, on the south side of Tiburon Boulevard just west of Trestle Glen Boulevard. Watch for the statue of the late horse named Blackie. Sausalito-Mill Valley C9

China Camp State Park: A park on the northside of Point San Pedro in San Rafael. Numerous access points are along North San Pedro Road east of Santa Venetia. There is a campground at Back Ranch Meadows, the westernmost access point. San Rafael D15

Corte Madera Ecological Reserve: An approximately 200-acre tidal marsh area occupying the eastern fifth of the Town of Corte Madera’s land area. Owned by the California Department of Fish and Game. Includes the Heerdt Marsh and Muzzi Marsh. Access is from the Greenbrae Boardwalk, Industrial Way, Redwood Highway, and Channel Drive. San Rafael K1

Gallinas Creek, part of McInnis Park in San Rafael, the tidal marshes associated with this creek are habitat for the endangered Ridgway’s Rail and its waters support migratory waterfowl and shorebirds.

Hawk Hill: Also called Hill 129. This is one of the highest points in the Marin Headlands and the site of Golden Gate Raptor Observatory’s annual hawk watch. Reached by a short walk starting where Conzelman Road becomes one-way, 2.7 miles from Highway 101. San Francisco F2

Kehoe Beach: An ocean beach reached by trail from Pierce Point Road in Point Reyes National Seashore, 5.8 miles from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Central California Q6

Kent Lake: A reservoir formed by Peters Dam on Lagunitas Creek in the Marin Municipal Water District Watershed. Reached most easily on foot or bicycle from Shafter Bridge via Grassy Slope Road off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard west of Lagunitas at the east edge of Samuel P. Taylor State Park. San Rafael E1/G3

Las Gallinas Sewage Ponds: The popular name for the complex of sewage treatment ponds, tidal mudflats and sloughs, salt marsh, and fields just north of the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary Disposal Plant, which is at the end of Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael. San Rafael B13

Marin Headlands: A large, amorphous area at the south end of the county. The Marin Headlands unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area extends from the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Beach and includes Hawk Hill and Rodeo Lagoon, and Tennessee Valley. Sausalito-Mill Valley G8

Mt. Burdell Open Space Preserve: A large preserve in northern Novato, with trail access from Sandy Creek Way, San Ramon Way, Myrtle Place, San Andreas Drive, San Mateo Way, San Carlos Way, Sereno Way, Simmons Lane, Butterfield Drive, Fieldstone Drive, and Olompali State Historic Park. Novato B7.

Novato Creek Marsh: A unit of the Petaluma Marsh Wildlife Area, bounded by Novato Creek, Highway 37, and the railroad tracks east of Rowland Boulevard. Novato E9

Richardson Bay Stretches from Belvedere to Sausalito, this bay includes extensive tidal marshes and shallow intertidal habitats. The National Audubon Sanctuary is located along the Tiburon shoreline.

Rush Creek Marsh: 250-acre marsh east of Highway 101. Over-wintering white pelicans, shorebirds and waterfowl, and some nesting waterfowl in summer.

San Rafael Bayfront: Views of rafting diving birds in shallow San Rafael Bay in winter, and nesting egrets on West Marin Island in spring from Jean and John Starkweather Shoreline Park trail. West Marin Island supports one of the largest heron rookeries in the Bay.

Shorebird Marsh: Along Frontage Road in Corte Madera. It is owned by and serves as a flood control basin for the town of Corte Madera. Waterfowl, shorebirds and terns can be observed depending on time of year.

Triangle Marsh: Restored tidal marsh across from Ring Mountain in Corte Madera.

West Marin

A Ranch: Also called Nunes Ranch. About 3.8 miles south of the South Beach turnoff on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Point Reyes National Seashore. Bird the cypresses west of the road on the north side of the buildings, particularly at the west end, and the marshy swale to the west. Stay away from the buildings and parking areas. Central California T5

Abbott’s Lagoon: West of Pierce Point Road in Point Reyes National Seashore. The parking lot and trailhead are 3.9 miles from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard on the west side of Pierce Point Road. A trail about 1.5 miles long leads to the brackish part of the lagoon. Alternate access to the south shore is cross-country from the RCA Station (see description), 3.8 miles farther along Sir Francis Drake from Pierce Point Road. Rarities typically are found along the north, west, and south shores of this part of the lagoon. Central California R5

B Ranch: Also called Mendoza Ranch. About 2.1 miles south of the South Beach turnoff on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Point Reyes National Seashore. Most rarities are found in the northernmost group of cypresses, on the west side of the road opposite the pond. The small cluster of buildings and grove of cypresses about ½ mile south of the main ranch is known as the “schoolhouse.” Central California S5

Barth’s Retreat: A picnic area at the junction of the Mickey O’Brien and Simmons trails on Marin Municipal Water District land on Mount Tamalpais. Reached most easily from the Rock Spring Trailhead at the junction of Pantoll Road and Ridgecrest Boulevard. San Rafael L7

Bear Valley: The area around the main Point Reyes National Seashore visitor’s center, west of Bear Valley Road in Olema. The most productive birding is along Olema Creek, which is crossed by the entrance road and the Earthquake Trail. Interesting birds also have shown up in the parking lots and near the Bear Valley Trailhead. Central California S7

Bolinas Lagoon: An estuary on the west side of Highway 1 between Olema-Bolinas Road on the north and Stinson Beach on the south. Public access is along Highway 1, at Pine Gulch Delta, at the end of Wharf Road in Bolinas, and via the beach from Stinson Beach (shortest walk from the end of Walla Vista) to the end of the spit at the lagoon mouth. Nearly all of the lagoon itself and most of the public access to it are within the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve. Central California U9; San Rafael K2-3/L3/M4; Sausalito-Mill Valley H1-3

Bull Point: The headland between Creamery and Schooner bays on Drake’s Estero at Point Reyes, accessible by the Bull Point Trail from a parking lot on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard just north of the North Beach turnoff. Central California S5-6

Chicken Ranch Beach: A small, public beach on the west shore of Tomales Bay, opposite Pine Hill Road in northern Inverness, where Sir Francis Drake Boulevard turns away from the bay towards the Point Reyes Lighthouse. There is good bird habitat along the streams behind the beach. Central California R6

Cordell Bank: A submerged seamount and surrounding national marine sanctuary west of Point Reyes. Shearwater Journeys leads trips from Bodega Bay. Central California E1

Cypress Grove Preserve: A preserve, owned by Audubon Canyon Ranch, on Tomales Bay. The main preserve is at 20545 Highway 1, ½ mile north of Marshall-Petaluma Road. This property is closed to the public; permission to enter may be granted at 415-663-8203. Central California Q6

Drake’s Beach: A popular recreation area at Point Reyes, at the end of a two-mile spur road going SE from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard 2.8 miles south of the North Beach turnoff. Check the willows and conifers along the upper edge of the parking lot. Central California S5

E Ranch: An active, historic ranch above Barries Bay on Point Reyes, on the east side of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard 2.2 miles south of the North Beach turnoff. Owned by the Nunes family but not to be confused with the Nunes (A) Ranch. The drainage between the ranch and the bay is worth exploring. Central California S5

Estero Trail: A trail running six miles along Drake’s Estero and Estero de Limantour at Point Reyes. The southeast end is at Limantour Beach (see description); the northwest end is at the Estero Trailhead, reached by an access road off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard midway between Mt. Vision Road and the road to Johnson’s Oyster Farm. Central California R6

Fish Docks: The area around the Chimney Rock Trailhead in Point Reyes National Seashore. Turn left off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard 4.2 miles south of the South Beach turnoff, then continue to the parking lot at the end of the road. Interesting landbirds are typically in the cypresses around the buildings and in the pines just to the east towards Chimney Rock. Noteworthy seabirds are generally around the docks and rocks near the lifeboat station. Central California T5

Five Brooks: Just west of Highway 1 about 4 miles south of Olema and 5 miles north of Bolinas Lagoon in Point Reyes National Seashore. Five Brooks Pond is a very short walk north from the parking lot. Central California T8

Fort Cronkhite: The westernmost of the three former forts in the Marin Headlands. It is bounded by Mitchell Road and Rodeo Lagoon on the south and Rodeo Cove on the west. Sausalito-Mill Valley J6

Giacomini Wetlands: This approximately 400-acre marsh was restored to tidal action in 2008 after being diked for agriculture for many years. It is located at the south end of Tomales Bay, about ¼ mile north of Drake’s View Drive in Inverness Park. Central California R7

Limantour: A diverse area of marsh, pond, estuary, dunes, and beach at the end of Limantour Road on Point Reyes. Central California S6

Lower Pierce Ranch: The site of a ranch (no longer extant) on Tomales Point, at the end of the maintained section of the Tomales Point Trail, three miles from the trailhead. Central California P5

Mt. Vision: The fourth tallest peak on Point Reyes, topping out at 1282 feet. Mt. Vision Overlook Road, off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, passes quite near the summit; there is a parking lot. Central California R6

Muddy Hollow: A drainage running between Inverness Ridge and Estero de Limantour in Point Reyes National Seashore. Traversed by the Muddy Hollow Trail (currently closed). A large pond at the lower end can be reached easily on foot or bicycle from the Limantour parking lot. Central California S6

Muir Beach: A community and public beach, the latter adjacent to good riparian habitat and a seasonal wetland (Big Lagoon) at the mouth of Redwood Creek. Access is from Pacific Way off Highway 1. Sausalito-Mill Valley F3

Muir Woods: A national monument surrounded by Mount Tamalpais State Park. Accessible most easily by road off Muir Woods Road 1 mile from Panoramic Highway or 3 miles from Shoreline Highway. Sausalito-Mill Valley D3-4

New Willows: Several clumps of shrubby willows in the drainage running east from A Ranch to Drake’s Bay. The upper New Willows are at the head of the drainage, just below the ranch. The lower New Willows are the two clumps at the foot of the drainage, just above the beach. Central California S5

North Beach Junction: The turnoff to North Beach, 3.4 miles beyond the turnoff to Johnson’s Oyster Farm on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Point Reyes National Seashore. The fields to the southwest of the junction are the most productive, especially just after plowing in the fall. Central California R5

Olema Marsh: A mostly freshwater marsh (and adjacent riparian and upland habitats) along the lower reaches of Olema Creek. Best reached from the parking area along the gravel road (shown as Marsh Road on some maps) off Bear Valley Road about 0.1 mile east of Limantour Road. The pamphlet, Birding in Marin County (Buechert and Olson 1984) refers to a nearby site, now known as White House Pool (see description), as Olema Marsh. A foot trail running north from the Olema Marsh parking area connects the two. Central California S7

Olema Ranch: A resort and commercial complex between Olema Creek and Highway 1 in northern Olema. The grounds are private property and should not be birded without permission. Central California S7

Palomarin Beach: On southern Point Reyes, accessible by trail from the Coast Trail just north of the Palomarin Trailhead. Central California U8

Pantoll Road: The road connecting Panoramic Highway at Pantoll and Ridgecrest Boulevard at Rock Springs on Mount Tamalpais. The lower end goes through mixed evergreen forest, and the upper end is in grassland. San Rafael M7; Sausalito-Mill Valley B/C1

Pine Gulch Delta: The delta of the creek of the same name on the west side of Bolinas Lagoon, within the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve. Park on the east side of Olema-Bolinas Road 1.3 miles south of Highway 1. Several trails meander through riparian forest and along the edge of the marsh. The mouth of the creek usually has a large concentration of birds. Central California U9

Point Reyes Lifeboat Station: See Fish Docks.

Point Reyes Lighthouse: At the end of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Point Reyes National Seashore. Rarities have been found everywhere between the parking lot and the lighthouse but especially in the cypresses and around the staff housing, about a half-mile walk from the parking lot. The dense, low cypress growth at the far end of the first cypress group is known as “The Oven.” Central California T5

Point Reyes Station: A town on Highway 1 2 miles north of Olema and 10 miles south of Marshall. Rarities have been found in many places but particularly the small orchard on the north side of Mesa Road opposite the red barn 2 blocks west of the highway, Tomasini Creek just west of the orchard, the horse pasture along Mesa Road east of the highway, the dairy farm on the west side of town, and Papermill Creek on both sides of the highway just south of town near Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Central California R7

RCA Station: An historic communication facility on the north side of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at Point Reyes, one mile west of the turnoff to Johnson’s Oyster Farm. It now serves as a park administrative center and is signed “North District Operation Center.” The gate is open approximately 9-5 every day. Be careful, vehicles have been locked in. Central California R6

Road Fork: The pond and quarry immediately south of the Chimney Rock turnoff on outer Point Reyes, just past A Ranch. Central California T5

Rodeo Lagoon: The lagoon behind Cronkhite Beach in the Marin Headlands. Easily viewed from Bunker and Mitchell roads on the north side and by trail on the south side. Sausalito-Mill Valley J6-7

Schooner Bay: The northernmost arm of Drake’s Estero on Point Reyes. Accessible from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard just west of the turnoff to Johnson’s Oyster Farm and from the oyster farm itself. Central California R6.

Spaletta Plateau: An area of open pasture on the east side of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard between B and C ranches on Point Reyes, about 0.8 miles south of the South Beach turnoff. Central California S5

Stinson Beach: A small, unincorporated town on Highway 1 between Muir Beach and Bolinas. The area around the main intersection (where the stop signs are) has diverse ornamental and riparian vegetation and has produced interesting birds. Sausalito-Mill Valley J3

Stinson Gulch: A canyon and stream accessible from Highway 1 at the south end of Bolinas Lagoon, between the town of Stinson Beach and the Bolinas-Stinson School’s Stinson Beach Campus. The lower gulch is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area; the upper gulch is within Mount Tamalpais State Park. Sausalito-Mill Valley H

Teal Pond: A small stock pond on the west side of Pierce Point Road on Point Reyes, 5.4 miles from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Central California Q6

Tomales Bay: A long, narrow bay formed by the San Andreas Fault and separating the northern Point Reyes Peninsula from the “mainland.” It extends from just north of Point Reyes Station and Inverness Park to Dillon Beach and Tomales Point. Viewing areas are scattered along both sides. The shoreline is under a mixture of federal, state, county, and private ownership. Central California Q6.

Volunteer Canyon: The southernmost canyon of Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Bolinas Lagoon Preserve, 3.9 miles north of Panoramic Highway and 1.1 miles south of Fairfax-Bolinas Road on Highway 1. The canyon is closed to the public; bird only from the highway and parking area. San Rafael K3

Waldo’s Pasture: The diked area south of Tomales Bay, between Inverness Park and Point Reyes Station. The best viewing is from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Inverness Park. Much of this area is slated to be restored to wetland. Central California R7

White House Pool: A county property along lower Lagunitas (Papermill) Creek near Inverness Park. The parking lot is on the north side of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard just east of the north end of Bear Valley Road. See Olema Marsh. Central California S7