Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Sam McDonald Park features mixed redwood forest and elevated meadows of great scenic beauty. The park is named after one of the towering African-American figures of Bay Area history, Sam McDonald, son of newly emancipated people who became a head groundsman at Stanford University in the early twentieth century, and had the foresight to acquire land in the coastal range. He bequeathed it to the children and nature-lovers of San Mateo County, and thus we can enjoy this undeveloped, isolated gem of a park. 

Hermit Warbler by Bob Lewis

This time of year is ideal for bird song, butterflies, wild flowers, and more. This half-day trip takes place during the annual City Nature Challenge sponsored by iNaturalist and the California Academy of Sciences, so we will seek out all the diversity that this park offers. Special birds we’ll look for include Pileated Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, singing Hermit Thrush, Hermit Warbler, and Lazuli Bunting. This trip is an intermediate birder expedition, because much of our birding here will be by ear. But birders and naturalists of all levels can enjoy the haunting beauty of the redwoods and the glorious sun-bathed plateaus that follow. When we are done, it is a relatively easy drive to Pescadero, for those who seek an excellent lunch or more birding opportunities along the coast.

Jennifer Rycenga is Board President of Sequoia Audubon Society, the San Mateo County chapter of National Audubon. She edits the San Mateo County online birding guide ( ) and loves having birders expand their knowledge to other taxa through iNaturalist and BioBlitzes.

Registration will close at 11pm on April, 20 2022.

Registrants: If you have any questions email or call Ryan at (510) 227-6190.