A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

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


Bodega Farm Pond, CA 95465

Location aliases: Doesn’t seem to have an official name. Known to birders simply as the “Bodega Farm Pond.”

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

Location: 16350 Bodega Highway, Occidental, CA 95465, about one mile east of the town of Bodega, about 20 minutes, or 8 miles, west of Sebastopol.

GPS address: 16350 Bodega Highway, Occidental, CA 95465. Note that while the address is technically in Occidental, this location is not close to the actual town of Occidental.

GPS Coordinates: 38 21 4N, 122 57 23W, or 38.3510, -122.9564

Access: Use caution: Requires parking on the side of a busy road. There is room for a single vehicle (perhaps two) just beyond the pond on the left (coming from Sebastopol) or just before the pond, on the right, coming from Bodega. Look for the gate.

Habitats: Freshwater pond.

Typical Species: During the summer, the pond is often empty or frequented mostly by Canada Geese and Mallards. In the winter, however, this is a favorite stopping place for many ducks and geese, including Cackling Geese, Mallards, American Wigeon, Canvasbacks, Buffleheads, and Ruddy Ducks. Also a favorite spot for Barn Swallows, Violet-green Swallows, and other swallows in season. Starlings, Brewer’s Blackbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Crow, Raven, Turkey Vulture, Western Scrub-jay, Red-tailed Hawk and various sparrows are common in the area.

Unusual birds, sightings: Baird’s Sandpiper (8/15/17, Lis Hug); Redhead (1/8-1/9/14, Scott Carey); Black Vulture (4/13/14, Dominik Mosur); Greater White-fronted Goose (10/22/13, Brook and Orion O’Conner); Baird’s Sandpiper (Sep 8, 2013, Helen Kochenderfer); Red-necked Phalarope (Aug 25, 2012, Colin Talcroft); Hooded Merganser (Jan 7, 2012); Ring-necked Duck (Nov 1, 2011); Juvenile White-faced Ibis (Oct 23, 2011, Gene Hunn); Ring-necked Duck (Oct 2, 2011); Wilson's Phalarope (Jul 28, 2011, Dea Fried); Snow Goose (Jan 21, 2011); Ross's Goose (Jan 7, 2010); Eared Grebe (Nov 20, 2010); Hooded Merganser (Nov 20, 2010); Ringed-neck Duck, Greater White-fronted Goose (Jan 23, 2010)

Restroom facilities: None in the immediate vicinity. Public restrooms may be available at shops in the town of Bodega. Restrooms are accessible in Bodega Bay at The Tides restaurant, at a building across the street from Spud Point Crab Co. Also at  Campbell Cove parking lot, further up the road (with the water on your left), the Bodega Head parking lot, and the Porto Bodega parking lot.

Restaurants Nearby:  If you’re headed out to Bodega, it makes more sense to eat in Bodega Bay than in Sebastopol. See the Bodega Bay Overview page for restaurant suggestions. If eating in Sebastopol is more convenient, try East-West Café at 128 N. Main St., Sebastopol, CA 95472, 829-2822) for good Mediterranean-influenced fare, including many vegetarian dishes. Close to Ragle Ranch Park is The French Garden at 8050 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol CA 95472 (824-2030), which is solid. For quick take-out sandwiches, Sebastopol has a Safeway (406 N. Main St., Sebastopol CA 95472, 823-1101) and a Whole Foods Market (6910 McKinley St., Sebastopol, CA 95472, 829-9801). In neighboring Graton, try Willow Wood Market Café (9020 Graton Rd., Graton, CA 95444, 823-0233). Always delicious.

Nearby attractions: The nearby town of Bodega (zip code 95465 will take you there using a GPS unit), as opposed to the town of Bodega Bay (94923), has small shops offering local art, antiques, local crafts, and the like. Also in the town of Bodega you can see St. Teresa of Avila Church, noted for its age (built by local shipbuilders in 1859) and famously photographed by Ansel Adams (1953). It also appears in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Hitchcock is said to have attended services there during the filming. Next door to the church is the schoolhouse that appears in the film. Driving into Bodega Bay from the east (from Sebastopol) will give you the view over the countryside that opens the film. Most other locations in The Birds have been obscured by time and development, but the Tides Wharf Restaurant is approximately the location of scenes filmed in town. Note that in the film, the two towns of Bodega and Bodega Bay have been compressed into one. Tippi Hedren, star of the film, makes occasional appearances at the Tides to this day. The nearby towns of Freestone and Occidental have shops good for browsing. See the Bodega Bay Overview page for more details.

The eclectic Sebastopol downtown area has interesting shops to browse, including art galleries, music stores, and the excellent Copperfield’s Used & Rare Books (176 N. Main St., 829-0429), among others. Incredible Records & CDs (112 N. Main St., 824-8099) is something of an institution in its own right (recommended for vintage rock & roll fans). The West County Museum (261 S. Main St., 829-6711) has high-quality exhibitions of items of local interest. The museum, housed in a former railway station on the electric rail line that once connected Petaluma and Santa Rosa is of some interest in itself. Florence Ave. is worth a visit. Home to sculptor Patrick Amiot, whose whimsical sculptures decorate the front yards of most of his neighbors, the street has become an outdoor sculpture garden. Park and walk to view the artwork (driving slooooowly down the street annoys the locals). For antique hounds, The Antique Society (2661 Gravenstein Hwy, Sebastopol, CA 95472, 829-1733), the last large antiques mall in Sebastopol to survive the recession, remains a good place to look for the unusual. The neighboring town of Graton has galleries and antiques as well. If you happen to be in the area in late April, the Apple Blossom Festival can be entertaining, and Sebastopol's apple orchards are beautiful when in bloom, although many orchards have been replaced by grapes in recent years. Sebastopol is the home of the Gravenstein apple.

Related bird watching spots: This area is a good place to stop on the way into Bodega Bay from Sebastopol, or on the way out of the Bodega Bay area, heading toward Sebastopol. Ragle Ranch Park is the closest birding location to the east. See the Bodega Bay Overview page for information on Bodega bay birding spots. Also nearby is the Carmody Rd. Pond, which is a convenient stop if you're heading toward birding areas in Marin County, such as Point Reyes. 

Notes: Park and maneuver with caution around the farm pond. People often drive very fast here, and there is little suitable roadside parking beyond the one slot by the gate (two cars will fit if you're very careful). There is no close access to the pond. Best viewed with a scope. Best in winter when ducks are present. In the summer months, there are usually just a few resident Mallards and Canada Geese, although swallows may be present in large numbers.

The bird in the photo: Ring-necked duck

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.