A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

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


Bodega Bay: Gaffney Point

Location aliases: The name “Gaffney Point” appears to be used only among local bird watchers. Non-birders will not know this name. Some local birders refer to this spot as "Pelican Point," as it's a favorite hangout for White Pelicans in the summer. See notes below for information about names for the trees along the road here associated with the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory.

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

Location: On Westside Rd., Bodega Bay, just beyond the entrance to the Marine Lab residences (if heading south). Also see detail map below.

GPS address: 2000 Westside Rd. Bodega Bay, CA 94923 should bring you to the general area.

GPS Coordinates: 38.3157N, 123.0575W (or 38 18 57N, 123 03 27W) should be close.

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

Access: No parking, but there is plenty of room to pull off to the side of the road.

Habitats: Tidal mud flats, coastal scrub, coastal evergreens

Typical Species: Favorite resting and feeding spot for all the common shorebirds, such as Willet, Whimbrel, Marbled Godwit, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, and the like. Black Brant. Favorite hangout of White Pelicans, Great Blue Herons, and Great Egret. Osprey common here. Gulls (Western gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, and others) and terns congregate.

Don't neglect to check the trees along the road here, especially those at the entrance to the Bodega Marine Lab residences, which can be productive at any time of year and sometimes harbor unusual warblers during migration. Look for species such as California Quail, California Towhee, Hermit Thrush, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Bewick's Wren, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Crow, House Finch, American Goldfinch, Lesser Goldfinch, Western Scrub-jay, etc. There is a second, smaller clump of trees further south, at the entrance to the Marine Lab itself. These trees, too can be worth checking. Also see notes below.

Unusual birds, sightings: Laughing Gull (5/3/14, Rick LeBaudour); Nashville Warbler (Feb 8, 2012, Peter Colasanti); Blue-grey Gnatcatcher (Feb 8, 2012, Peter Colasanti).

The trees by the road at the entrance to the Marine Lab residences and at the entrance to the Marine Lab itself can harbor vagrants during migration. Blackpoll Warbler (Marine Lab entrance trees, 9/14-9/18/14, Dan Nelson); Black-throated Blue Warbler was sighted in the Marine Lab entrance trees on Oct 7, 2010, also reported there in Oct. 2004. Magnolia Warbler in the same trees, October 2004. See notes below.

Restroom facilities: None in the immediate area. The closest restrooms are near Spud Point Crab Co. (across the street from the restaurant), at the Campbell Cove parking lot, and up the hill from there, at Bodega Head.

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

Nearby attractions: See the Bodega Bay Overview page and Note 2 below about the Bodega Marine Lab.

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

Related bird watching spots: Note that mud flats stretch away from this location for a considerable distance to the north and to the south. All of these areas can be good for shorebirds. The trees at the entrance to the Marine Lab residences, and, further south, at the entrance to the Marine Lab itself, can also be good spots to look for birds, with the trees at the residences usually the more "birdy." Owl Canyon, Campbell Cove, The Hole in the Head, and Bodega Head are to the south. The North End of Bodega Harbor and Porto Bodega are to the North. See the Bodega Bay Overview page for more. Also see notes below.

Notes: 1. Local bird watchers don't seem to have a set way of referring to the trees near Gaffney point at two locations associated with the Bodega Marine Lab (usually not open to the public) and the entrance to the Bodega Marine Lab residences (which are private). It is the Marine Lab residence trees that are closest to Gaffney Point. The Marine Lab trees are a little further south. Both areas can be productive, however. Often the two are confused. I distinguish them by using "Marine Lab residence trees," for the trees at the entrance to the residences and "Marine Lab entrance trees" for the southern clump, at the entrance to the road that leads to the lab itself,--but that's just me. The residences are private and should not be trespassed upon, but no one seems to mind if you walk the first 20-30 yards or so from the road toward the residences to look for birds in the trees there.  

2. The Bodega Marine Lab (formally known as the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory) is normally closed to the public. It is, however, open for tours Fridays (with some exceptions) between 2:00PM and 4:00PM (for groups of less than ten). See the Lab's Website for details.

All photos by the author, unless otherwise indicated

Maps by Google Maps




© Colin Talcroft, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

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.