A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

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


Reclamation Rd., Petaluma, CA

Location aliases: None.

©2011 Google – Imagery ©2011 DigitalGlobe, USDA Farm Service Agency, GeoEye, US Geological Survey, Map data ©2011 Google

Note: As of early 2015, large new swaths of land here have been restored to wetlands (formerly drained and farmed). The opportunities should multiply as birds move back into newly flooded areas.

Location: This is the southern extension of Lakeville Hwy., which connects Petaluma (to the north) and the north end of San Pablo Bay (Lakeville Hwy. proper ends at a T-junction with Hwy. 37). Reclamation Rd. is thus the road on the other side (the south side) of Hwy. 37. Reclamation Rd. gives access to the end of the Sonoma Baylands Trail.

GPS address: 7699 Reclamation Rd., Petaluma, CA will take you to the first buildings on the road, south of Highway 37.

GPS Coordinates: Coordinates of 38.1282N, 122.4713W (or 338 07 42N, 122 28 17W) will take you to the area near reclamation road and the railroad tracks shown on the map.

Access: There are no parking areas, but the road is lightly traveled. Park as convenient on the side of the road.  Reclamation Rd. gives access to the end (or start, depending on your perspective) of the Sonoma Baylands Trail (about which I will add more information soon).

Habitats: Tidal mud flats, marshland, scrub

Typical Species: Great Egret, Snowy Egret, American Coot, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Wigeon, Mallard, Greater scaup, Ruddy Duck, Sora, Virginia Rail, Greater Yellowlegs, American Avocet, Killdeer, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Curlew, Long-billed Dowitcher, Black-necked Stilt, Black-bellied Plover, White Pelican, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Western Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Red-winged Blackbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, Cooper's Hawk, American Kestrel, White-tailed Kite, American Crow, Black Phoebe, Say’s Phoebe, Raven, Western Meadowlark, Marsh Wren, Tree Swallow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, House Finch, Starling, American Pipit, Song Sparrow, Savannah sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow

Unusual birds, sightings: American Golden Plover (10/31/15, Gene Hunn); Pacific Golden Plover (10/31/15, Gene Hunn); Palm Warbler (February 18, 2012, Peter Colasanti); Clay-colored Sparrow (November 8, 2011, Lisa Hug)

Restroom facilities: None. Closest restrooms are at Port Sonoma Marina.

Restaurants nearby:  Nothing in the immediate vicinity. There is a Starbucks at 3100 Lakeville Hwy. (775-3708) for the basics. Otherwise, Petaluma (further to the north) is probably the best bet for lunch in the area. My favorite in Petaluma has long been the Water Street Bistro at 100 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, CA 94952 (763-9563). Small, but delicious. Lombardi’s Barbecue (3413 Petaluma blvd. North, Petaluma, CA 94952; 773-1271) has excellent sandwiches. Try the pulled pork sandwich. Ask for your cole slaw IN the sandwich. Yum.

Nearby attractions: The historic downtown area of Petaluma has restaurants, galleries, antique and other shops, mainly on Kentucky St. and the surrounding areas. Good for a stroll and shopping. This area has some good Victorian architecture.  If you’re in the mood for bargain hunting, the Petaluma Village Factory Outlets outside of town may be of interest, at 2200 Petaluma Blvd. North (778-9300). Petaluma has a nice Carnegie Library still in operation that houses a small museum of local interest. (built in 1904; 20 Fourth St., Petaluma, CA 94952). For the gardener, Cottage Gardens is an excellent nursery, at 3995 Emerald Dr., Petaluma, CA 94952 (778-8025).

Related bird watching spots: The closest birding spots are at Port Sonoma and Skaggs Island Rd. (south end). See relevant pages for details. Shollenberger Park is about 20 minutes north of Port Sonoma, in Petaluma. Adjacent to Shollenberger Park is Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility. On the opposite side of Shollenberger Park from Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility is Alman Marsh. See the pages for Shollenberger Park and Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility for details.

Further afield: To the south is the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge (mostly in Solano County), but I've never been able to figure out how you actually get to the Refuge. To the west, you can head back to Highway 101 or Lakeville Hwy. The Atherton Rd. exit from Hwy. 101 gives access to good birding at wetlands accessible from Bahia Dr. (Marin County). Head for the intersection of Bahia Dr. and Topaz Dr. A GPS address of 500 Bahia Dr., Novato, CA should get you close. 1600 Armstrong Ave. should take you close to good birding along Binford Rd., on the other side of the same area (heading toward Gnoss Field, a small airport here). Trails connect the two areas.

All photos by the author, unless otherwise indicated

Maps by Google Maps



© Colin Talcroft, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

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.