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November 10, 2015 > Park It column

Park It column

By Ned MacKay

Its that time of year again. From now through next April 1, South Park Drive at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley is closed to all motor vehicle traffic, to accommodate the annual newt mating migration.

Newts are amphibians, a variety of salamander. They are three to six inches long, brown in color with orange underbellies. During the dry summer months they are dormant under rocks and logs. But when the winter rains arrive, they migrate to streams and ponds to mate and produce a new newt generation.

South Park Drive connects Grizzly Peak Boulevard to Wildcat Canyon Road. It traverses the newt migration route between their summer habitat and Wildcat Creek. So vehicles would squash the newts as they try to cross the road.

Though the road is closed to autos, it can still be used by bicyclists, equestrians and dog walkers. Dogs can be off-leash, but must still be under their ownersÕ control. And dogs should be kept away from newts, because the newts have a substance on their skin that is poisonous to animals and people.

By the way, collecting and removing newts or any other animal is illegal in the regional parks. In any case, newts wonÕt live long away from their natural habitat. So please leave the newts alone and let them continue their life cycle.


TildenÕs Environmental Education Center and adjacent Little Farm have several free programs scheduled on Saturday, Nov. 14. ThereÕs a rabbit rendezvous from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Little Farm. And naturalist Trail Gail Broesder will lead a nature ramble from 1 to 2:30 p.m. to nearby Jewel Lake in search of wildlife. Then from 3 to 4 p.m., interpretive student aide Brianna Contaxis-Tucker will host a program about rain catchers, the Wildcat Creek watershed, and water conservation.

The center and Little Farm are both at the north end of TildenÕs Central Park Drive. For information, call 510-544-2233.


Trail Gail also plans a challenging hill hike at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13. Bring water and snacks; heavy rain or mud will shorten the trek.

Meet Gail at the Bollinger Canyon staging area. ItÕs at the end of Bollinger Canyon Road, which leads north off Crow Canyon Road in San Ramon. For information, call 510-544-2233.

At Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda, thereÕs a storytime and nature fun program from 11:30 a.m. to noon every Sunday. Activities include story telling, nature crafts, and interaction with live animals.

Family nature fun hour is from 2 to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday at Crab Cove. Reptiles will be the theme on Nov. 14 and 15.

Crab Cove is at 1252 McKay Ave. off Central Avenue. For information, call 510-544-3187.


Naturalist Anthony Fisher leads bird walks from 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays in various regional parks. All ages and levels of expertise are welcome.

HeÕll lead a walk on Nov. 16 at Martinez Regional Shoreline. Meet at the end of Berrellessa Street in Martinez. On Nov. 23 he will be at Briones Regional Park. Meet at the Bear Creek Staging Area on Bear Creek Road about five miles east of San Pablo Dam Road in Orinda. For information, call 510-544 3241.


Astronomy buffs will enjoy a program from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15 at Del Valle Regional Park, led by naturalist Cat Taylor. It offers a chance to see late Taurid and early Leonid meteors and pick out some constellations as well.

The program is for ages seven and older. It includes a short but very steep hike to a hilltop viewpoint. If you come, bring dinner, a pad, a jacket and a flashlight.

Meet at the parkÕs Arroyo Staging Area, which is at the end of Arroyo Road south of Livermore. For information, call 510-544-3249.


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