Half-Day Field Trips - Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Birding the Chain of Lakes in Golden Gate Park

Time:  8 a.m.  - 12 p.m.

Cost: $30 (lunch not included)

Maximum Number of Participants:  25


With its large size, geographical location and varied plant communities, Golden Gate Park provides habitat for a great diversity of bird life despite its position in an urban environment. At the time of its creation in the 1870’s, Golden Gate Park was the largest urban park in the nation. It consists of 1019 acres and stretches from Stanyan Street in the Haight-Asbury District all the way to the Pacific Ocean.


William Hammond Hall, the Father of Golden Gate Park, intended to build an urban oasis in the middle of a growing metropolis. The creation of the park was a massive undertaking. It now contains grassy meadows, wooded areas, managed lakes, ornamental gardens and an arboretum. Golden Gate Park attracts a large variety of bird species. Over 200 species of both migrant and resident birds have been seen within the park’s borders.  The small lakes in Golden Gate Park offer a haven for many of these birds. These lakes and the shoreline bordering the park are some of the best places in San Francisco to look for birds.


For this half-day field trip, we will spend the morning birding the Chain of Lakes in search of late spring migrants and breeding birds with their nests.  The breeding season will be in full swing in May, providing the opportunity to enjoy western bird songs and bird breeding behavior.


Please bring:  binoculars, layered clothing, snacks



Cruise the BayCruise the Bay & Fisherman’s Wharf

Time:  9 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Cost:  $30 (transportation and lunch not included)

No Maximum Number


We will meet at 9:00 am on Fisherman’s Wharf, near the Red & White Fleet office on Pier 43 ½.  An Academy trip leader will give a lecture, about the Bay, its origins and biology.  At 10:00 am we will board the first tour boat for a 1-hour trip. Sail past the San Francisco skyline and view the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, the San Francisco Maritime National Park, and numerous other exciting sights.


As you head west towards the Golden Gate Bridge, cruise along Fort Mason and the Marina District which was devastated in the 1989 earthquake. Next, enjoy views of Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio—both former army installations—that are now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Don’t miss incredible photo opportunities when sailing directly under the massive 4,200-foot span of the 746-foot tall Golden Gate Bridge.


As you steam back into the Bay, travel past the wildlife reserves of the Marin Headlands and the legendary town of Sausalito, once home to the 1960s’ flower generation. With Angel Island State Park to your left, slowly cruise around the infamous Island of Alcatraz. On your way back to Fisherman’s Wharf, see the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and Coit Tower. After a full hour of exciting sights, the barking sea lions at Pier 39 welcome you back to Pier 43½, where you can visit two National Historic Landmarks, the WWII submarine USS Pampanito and merchant vessel USS Jeremiah O'Brien.


During the cruise, frequent wildlife encounters include seagulls, pelicans and sea lions. At times, you may see even dolphins and whales.  Remember, San Francisco can be quite pleasant in May, but it could also be quite chilly, particularly on the Bay.  Wear layers!!


At 11:00 am you will be sent on your way to enjoy the rest of the sights at Fisherman’s Wharf.



Conservatory of FlowersSan Francisco Arboretum & The Conservatory of Flowers

Time: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Cost: $20 (lunch on your own in the neighborhood)

Maximum Number of Participants:  15


The Conservatory of Flowers is an elegant piece of San Francisco’s Victorian past and a spectacular living museum of rare and beautiful tropical plants. From Borneo to Bolivia, the 1,700 species of plants at the Conservatory represent unusual and often endangered flora from more than 50 countries around the world.


Opened in 1879, the wood and glass greenhouse is the oldest existing conservatory of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and has attracted millions of visitors to Golden Gate Park since it first opened its doors.

The Conservatory suffered severe damage in 1995 after a devastating windstorm swept through San Francisco. A five-year, $25 million campaign to save the Conservatory resulted in many needed upgrades to the facility and the development of an exciting, new horticultural program. It reopened to the public in 2003.


It is designated as a city, state and national historic landmark and was one of the 100 most endangered sites of the World Monuments Fund. It is a civil engineering landmark as well, serving as one of the few examples of a Victorian-era prefabricated building.


The San Francisco Botanical Garden (formerly Strybing Arboretum) located in Golden Gate Park, consists of 55 acres (22.3 ha) and includes over 50,000 individual plants, representing over 8,000 taxa from around the world, with particular focus on Magnolia species, high elevation palms, and cloud forest species from Central America, South America and Southeast Asia.


The garden was designed in the 1890’s by park supervisor John McLaren, but funds were not available for construction until 1926 when Helene Strybing provided funds in her will.  Planting was actually begun in 1937 with funding from the WPA (Works Progress Administration), and the arboretum officially opened in May, 1940. 


As a part of Golden Gate Park, it is officially managed by the city of San Francisco, but the SF Botanical Garden Society plays an important role in providing educational programs, managing volunteers, and curatorial staff. Using green building practices, a new Center for Sustainable Gardening is planned to replace the existing nursery. Other planned renovations include a Southeast Asian Cloud Forest and newly paved pathways.



Berkeley Natural History Museums

Time:  1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Cost:  $30

Maximum Number of Participants: 30


Our colleagues across the bay will be hosting tours of the museums located on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley.


The University and Jepson Herbaria house more than 2 million plant specimens, along with libraries and archives. The University herbarium was established in 1895 and contains a worldwide collection of both vascular plants, cryptogams, algae and fungi.  The Jepson Herbarium was established in 1950 and specializes in the vascular plants of California and is the working collection for the Jepson Flora project and upcoming new Jepson Manual. The Herbaria contain extensive archives that often transcend botany and will be included in the tour.


The UC Museum of Paleontology has the largest university paleontological collection in the world with collections representing organisms from prokaryotes to vertebrates collected from all continents. Some "behind the scenes" highlights for tours may include the first dinosaurs and one of the best preserved mosasaur skulls from California, the youngest and smallest known Triceratops skull and other dinosaurs from the Upper Cretaceous of Montana, and a large collection of the planet's oldest fossil animals from the Vendian of the White Sea region of Russia.


The Essig Museum of Entomology is a world-class terrestrial arthropod collection of 5 million specimens with a historical focus on the insects of California. Today the collection focuses on the fauna of the Western Hemisphere, with a recently-broadened scope to include the islands of the Pacific Basin.


Plan on making your own way to the downtown Berkeley BART (not North Berkeley) where you will be met outside the station by Andrew Doran at 12:45pm who will take you to the University and Jepson Herbaria to commence the tours.


With over 700,000 amphibian, reptile, bird, and mammal specimens, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology is one of the largest university museums of its kind, and grows by 3,000-5,000 specimens per year. It addition to the specimens, the Museum collections include over 90,000 tissue samples, 10,000 audio recordings, and a rich archive of annotated maps, field notes, and photographs that have proved invaluable for recent resurvey projects in the west. Visitors to the Museum will be given a tour of the facilities

and will be shown highlights from the different collections.


Please note that there is not enough time to cover the UC Botanical Garden in addition to the indoor museums.


The University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley located above the campus comprises 34 glorious acres (19 ha) and contains one of North America’s most diverse plant collections with over 12,000 taxa and 10,000 species from around the world.  These include the most diverse collection of native California plants, representing about 30% of the recognized native flora. The Garden, a ‘living museum’ is fully curated and has the largest collection of wild-collected plants with provenance in the country.   The garden was established on campus in 1890 but was moved to Strawberry Canyon above campus in the early 20’s.  It was fully opened to the public in 1970. This site afforded a varied topography with important microclimates, which facilitates the enormous diversity that is largely grown outside.  It is the only botanical garden in the world with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge (and beyond).


For those wishing to tour the UC Botanical Garden please contact andrewdoran@berkeley.edu to arrange transport to the garden from central campus.



 Full-Day Field Trips - Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Monterey Bay Aquarium          

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Time:  8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Cost:  $75

Maximum Number of Participants:  50


The Monterey Bay Aquarium (http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/ ) is a state-of-the-art regional aquarium is located in the beautiful city of Monterey, a 2+ hour bus trip south of San Francisco.  Our route will take us down scenic Highway 1, along the Pacific Ocean.  Dave Catania, of the Academy’s Ichthyology Department, will provide information about the local marine environment and fauna, and will be your host for the day.


The first stop will be at Moss Landing Marine Laboratory (MLML - http://www.mlml.calstate.edu/ ). Staff will provide a tour of the facility then it is on to Monterey and the Aquarium.


The $75 cost includes bus transportation and aquarium admission. Lunch will be on your own. There will be free time in the middle of the day, and you will be encouraged to wander through the historic Cannery Row district. Two novels by John Steinbeck, Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, were set in this area.


The return trip will be by a different route, through the beautiful hills and valleys of the California Coast Range.


The trip leaves from and returns to the Hotel Kabuki.



Grgich HillsWine Country “Green Wineries”

Time: 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Cost: $75

Maximum Number of Participants:  50


This year, by popular demand, we are offering a trip to the world famous Napa Valley wine country.  Napa Valley is one of the premier travel destinations in the world. Breathtaking views abound at every turn – mustard in the late winter, picturesque rolling hills planted with vineyards year-round and wineries of every stature dot the landscape. 


The first stop on our trip will be Grgich Hills Estate, a biodynamic winery located in Rutherford, just north of the city of Napa.  Grgich Hills Estate is a family owned and operated winery dedicated to the art of winemaking and committed to natural winegrowing and sustainability, with 100% estate grown certified organic and Biodynamic® vineyards.  We will have a tour of the vineyard and winery followed by a tasting. 


The next stop is downtown Napa, where you will be on your own for lunch.  But never fear, folks from Napa like to say that they have an “embarassment” of restaurants for a town of its size.  There are over 45 downtown establishments to chose from, so your dining experience will be to your personal taste!


In the afternoon, we will visit The Hess Collection which was founded by Swiss entrepreneur Donald Hess.  Hess first purchased vineyards on Mount Veeder in 1978 and the winery first opened to the public in 1989.  Located in an historic stone winery building originally constructed in 1903, the Hess Collection is a leader in sustainable and organic practices.  Along with a tour of the vineyards and winery, we will be offered a wine tasting and the opportunity to seen Donald Hess’ extensive private contemporary Art Museum.


The bus leaves for a return trip to San Francisco at approximately 3:30, so we will be sure to have you back in time for the ice breaker, where you can share your newfound wine expertise with everyone!  Business casual attire appreciated.



Questions?  Contact Dave Catania at: fieldtrips@calacademy.org

On Friday afternoon, we will be traveling to the California Academy of Sciences for collections tours.  The Academy, founded in 1853, houses over 25 million specimens in 8 departments in its research collections and over 38,000 organisms in its living collections managed by the fantastic staff of the Steinhart Aquarium.  In addition there are four departments that support research at the Academy:  The Academy Library, The Center for Applied Biodiversity Informatics, The Center for Comparative Genomics, and Scientific Publications.


Please check back for more information about the collection tours as we continue to develop our program.

Tuesday Icebreaker

On Tuesday evening, after we all return from field trips, the traditional Ice Breaker Soirée will be held at the Hotel Kabuki.  This will be an opportunity for the memberships of both SPNHC and NSCA to mingle in a relaxed atmosphere.



Wednesday Wild

Wednesday evening we invite you to join us for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres  in the recreated Africa Hall at the Academy.  A lively and thriving colony of South African Penguins will serve as our chaperones as we spend the evening catching up with old friends and making new ones.  We will also have chance to stroll through much of the public portion of the museum without having to fight the crowds....a rare opportunity!




Thursday Banquet

Thursday evening is our annual banquet and dance.  This event will also be held at the Hotel Kabuki in the elegant Sakura Room.  Food will be served buffet style, with a menu that should delight everyone.



SPNHC 2011 Sponsors























Contact Information for SPNHC 2011

Debra Trock

Chair of the Local Organizing Committee



Rebecca Peters




Rebecca Morin




Jean Demouthe




Dave Catania

Field Trips




Moe Flannery




Charlotte Pfeiffer

General Information, Web Pages