Park It: Farewell to the Monarchs

By NED MacKAY
Special to the Tribune

The monarch butterfly winter convention at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont is winding down, and the park naturalists have scheduled some farewell programs illustrating the beautiful insects’ life cycle.

Hundreds of the butterflies have clustered in the park’s eucalyptus groves for the past several months as part of what has been described as their multi-generational, long-distance reproductive relay race.

Meet at the Ardenwood granary at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5, for a slide show about the monarchs, followed by a walk to the greenhouse to view monarch caterpillars.

Ardenwood is located on Ardenwood Boulevard just north of Highway 84 (the Dumbarton Bridge approach). For more information, call (510) 544-2797.

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Nearby at Coyote Hills Regional Park, Discovery Days are in session from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Your whole family can enjoy nature explorations and craft activities. Come at the start for an introduction to the topic of the week, or drop in any other time during the day.

The Ohlone Indians who lived at Coyote Hills for millennium used plants for food, medicine, shelter and tools. To learn more about it, join naturalist Francis Mendoza at the park’s visitor center from 10-11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5. The group will visit the native plant garden and walk out to the freshwater marsh. The program is for ages 15 and older. It repeats at the same time on Feb. 19.

Francis also will talk about Ohlone people and their culture past to present in a program from 1-2:30 p.m. on Sundays, Feb. 5 and 19. It’s for ages eight and up.

Coyote Hills is located at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont. For information, call (510) 544-3220.

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Tracks and trails are the theme of Family Nature Fun hour from 2-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 4-5, at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda. The staff will help visitors find footprints, paw prints and other evidence of animal activity. Then, as always, it’s fish feeding time from 3-3:30 p.m. at Crab Cove’s large aquarium, which contains all kinds of the fish that live in San Francisco Bay.

Crab Cove is at the bay end of McKay Avenue off Alameda’s Central Avenue. For information, call (510) 544-3187.

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“Fun with Felt” is on the agenda from 1:30-2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Little Farm in Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley.

Naturalist “Trail Gail” Broesder will show visitors how to use wool, soap and some elbow grease to make a unique work of art.

The Little Farm is at the north end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive. Call (510) 544-2233.

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Trail Gail also leads Footloose Friday hikes. She’s leading one from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3 at Briones Regional Park.

The focus is on cultural and natural history, plus exercise. At Briones you’ll see some newts, too. The walks go rain or shine, though muddy conditions may shorten them.

For the Briones hike, meet at the park’s Alhambra staging area, which is on Reliez Valley Road about a mile east of the junction with Alhambra Valley Road. Call (510) 544-2233 for information.

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Energetic hikers will enjoy a steep five-miler from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, through the ridges and forests at Morgan Territory Regional Preserve east of Mt. Diablo, led by naturalist Kevin Dixon. This one’s for ages 12 and up. Bring lunch and water and wear sturdy shoes.

Meet Kevin at the park’s staging area, which is on Morgan Territory Road, nine miles south of the junction with Marsh Creek Road east of Clayton. Be careful on Morgan Territory Road. It’s two-way, but it’s winding and not much more than one lane wide.

For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

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Recycling is the theme of a program from 2-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley.

The park’s interpretive staff will show some fun ways to reuse common household items, and give hints for recycling and reducing waste.

Big Break is on Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.

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