A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

(Unless otherwise indicated, all phone numbers are in the 707 area code)


Bodega Bay: Bird Walk

Location aliases: None. The trails entered here, outside of Doran Regional Park, are known as "Bird Walk" and signposted "Bird Walk: Coastal Access" (in official reports, I've seen the park referred to also as "Bird Walk Coastal Access Park"). Bird Walk is part of the Sonoma County Regional Park system but separate from neighboring Doran Regional Park (usually just called "Doran Beach" by birders). The Bird Walk trails don't seem to be much on the radar of serious local birders (they tend to check the Doran Beach Entry Pond from the road entering Doran Regional Park and then head straight down the road, checking the beaches and mudflats on either side as far the parking areas across from Campbell Cove). This page covers the walking trails near the marshes "behind" the Doran Entry Pond (behind from the perspective of the entry road). For more on the Doran Beach area itself, see the Doran Regional Park page. Note that there is no "Doran City Park." I have left the name on the map here because it appears in Google Maps. According to the Sonoma County Regional Parks service, however, there is no such place. 

©2011 Google – Imagery ©2011 DigitalGlobe, USDA Farm Service Agency, GeoEye, Data CSUMB SFML CA OPC Map data ©2011 Google

Location: The entrance is at 355 State Hwy 1, Bodega Bay, CA. (State Hwy 1 is usually referred to simply as Hwy 1. It will appear on maps also as "Bay Hwy"). The Bird Walk entrance and parking area are just south of the town of Bodega Bay.

GPS address: 355 Hwy 1, Bodega Bay, CA will take you to the entrance, but see "Access" below for more.

GPS Coordinates: Coordinates of 38.3206N, 123.0348W (or 38 19 14N, 123 02 05W will take you to the entrance on Hwy. 1, but see "Access" below for more.

Tide information: See the NOAA Tides & Currents page for Bodega Harbor

Access: The official entrance to Bird Walk is at the address and coordinates given above. There is a small parking lot at the entrance. $7 charge per vehicle. Sonoma County Regional Park annual pass holders park free. However, about 300 yards further up the road (north, toward the town of Bodega Bay) there is a large dirt pull-out where people park and walk in for free. Also, you can enter the Bird Walk trails on foot from inside Doran Regional Park (entrance shown at left). The park also requires a parking fee.

Recommended route: If you're not in a hurry, start by making a complete circuit of what I call the "circumference trail" (not an official name). The trail forms a large rectangle around seasonal marshes with one side running along Hwy 1, one side running along the stream that empties into Bodega Harbor here (Cheney Creek), one side along the southerly marshes on the Harbor side of the rectangle, and one side overlooking what I call the Smith Brothers Rd. Marshes (again, not an official name, but convenient--these are the marshes you see from Smith Brothers Rd.). Next head for the foot bridge that crosses Cheney Creek. On the far side of the bridge, you can go left to scan the willows and other trees here between the trail and the water treatment pond you'll see in the distance (which may harbor gulls and other birds). Then, return to the bridge to take the main Bird Walk trail along the creek, which ends at Doran Beach Rd., inside Doran Regional Park. If you have less time, you can do the circumference trail alone or the main trail alone.   

Habitats: Mud flats, tidal marsh, open brushy areas, lightly wooded areas

Typical Species: Check the marshy areas and on the mud flats for shorebirds and waders. Scan the open water for loons, grebes, and ocean-going ducks. The brushy areas along the circumference trail are excellent habitat for sparrows and finches and birds such as Bushtits and Bewick's Wren, and that trail provides good vantage points for using a scope to look at the mud flats. Watch overhead for gulls, terns, and pelicans. Raptors frequent the area--notably Northern Harrier--but Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, White-tailed Kite, and even Bald Eagle have been reported. The willows may harbor warblers during migration. Black Phoebe is common.

Unusual birds, sightings: Indigo Bunting (11/29/14, Gene Hunn); Clay-colored Sparrow (11/27/14, Dea Fried); Harris’s Sparrow (11/18-11/22/14, Denise Herzberg)

Restroom facilities: Closest are at Doran Regional Park or at the Tides Restaurant.  

Restaurants Nearby: See the Bodega Bay Overview page for restaurant recommendations.

Nearby attractions: See the Bodega Bay Overview page.

Related bird watching spots: Doran Regional Park, Smith Brothers Rd., Tides Wharf, and Diekmann's Bay Store are the closest Bodega Bay locations. See the Bodega Bay Overview page for geographical relationships. Doran beach looks across to Campbell Cove, but visiting the Cove from here requires backtracking all the way around Bodega Bay. Because of its isolation from the rest of the Bodega Bay locations, making a visit to Doran Beach is most logical as either the first or last stop in a day of birding in the Bodega Bay area.

All photos by the author, unless otherwise indicated

Maps by Google Maps




© Colin Talcroft, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.

Unless noted, all photos by the author. If you would like to use one of my images, please ask for permission for non-commercial use with proper credit or commercial use with proper compensation.