Park It by Ned MacKay: Be a docent at Black Diamond Mines

If you enjoy sharing knowledge of natural and cultural history with other people, consider training to become a docent at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch.

Black Diamond docents are volunteers who assist the park’s naturalist staff with special events and school programs.

Docents must be at least 18 years old. Four five-hour training sessions are required to learn the park’s features and gain interpretive skills. The sessions are from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, June 5, 12, 19 and 26.

For more information, contact naturalist Kevin Dixon, the docent coordinator, at 510-544-2751 or email

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Two activities scheduled in coming days at the park are good examples of Black Diamond programs.

Kevin will lead a strenuous seven-mile trek from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 12 through springtime landscapes to the prospect tunnel and back. Miners dug the tunnel looking for a coal seam, which they never found. The hike is for ages nine and older.

Meet Kevin at the park’s Frederickson Lane trailhead off Golf Course Road in Antioch.

Black Diamond also will host mine open houses from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 13 and again on June 10. Park visitors can take free, self-guided tours through the newly expanded mine passageways, entering at Hazel-Atlas Portal and exiting at the Greathouse Visitor Center.

For safety reasons, the underground passages are restricted to ages seven and older. Activities for younger kids will be available above ground.

For more information on these and other Black Diamond programs, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

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The activities of seldom-seen wildlife at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley have been captured on motion-activated cameras. All is revealed during a Pre-Mothers Day Family Film Fest from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 12, hosted by naturalist Cat Taylor.

On Sunday, May 13, the staff plans an owl pellet dissection session from 2 to 3 p.m. It’s a way of finding out what these feathered predators eat.

Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street. Call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050 for information.

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“Wool to Dye For” is the theme of a program from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 13 and again on May 27 at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley, with naturalist Jenna Scimeca.

Jenna will show how to create color from natural ingredients, then help visitors dye yarn using a modern pantry staple.

The program meets at Tilden’s Environmental Education Center, at the north end of Central Park Drive.

For information on either program, call 510-544-2233.

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Mother’s Day (May 13) at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont will include an easy, two-mile bird hike with naturalist Francis Mendoza from 9 to 11 a.m. in search of ducks, shorebirds and other migratories. It’s for ages 15 and older.

Then from 1 to 2 p.m. the same day, Francis will lead a hunt for reptiles, native fish and butterflies in and around the park’s visitor center, for ages five and older.

Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. Call 510-544-3220.

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