Park It by Ned MacKay: Monarchs at Ardenwood

For many years, hundreds of monarch butterflies have spent the winter months in the eucalyptus groves at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont as part of their migratory, multi-generational life cycle.

The naturalists at Ardenwood have scheduled a whole series of programs from November through January, highlighting these fascinating insects and the beautiful spectacle they present as they flutter about in the trees.

For example, you can go on a butterfly search at Ardenwood from 1 to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18 with naturalist Christina Garcia to see if the seasonal show has begun.

Other monarch programs will meet at Ardenwood’s greenhouse at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 23, 24 and 25.

Ardenwood is located at 34600 Ardenwood Boulevard off Highway 84 (the Dumbarton Bridge approach). For information on park entry fees, call 510-544-2797. Parking is free.

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Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont is the site of an Ohlone village that was occupied for more than 2,000 years before the arrival of Europeans in California.

During an open house from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, you can tour a reconstructed shade structure, pit house and sweat lodge at the site. Park naturalists will be available to talk about Ohlone culture, past and present.

Coyote Hills is home to a wide variety of bird life. Naturalist Kristina Parkison will lead a bird-watching walk at the park from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20. The walk is for ages 12 and up. All levels of birding experience are welcome. Meet at the visitor center; bring water, sunscreen and binoculars or scopes.

Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle; the programs are free of charge. For information, call 510-544-3220.

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There’s also a birding activity planned from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda – this one especially for kids.

Led by naturalist Michael Charnofsky, the group will observe, mimic and identify the birds of Crab Cove, then finish off with a birdy craft. Binoculars are available; rain cancels.

Crab Cove is at 1252 McKay Ave. off Alameda’s Central Avenue. Call 510-544-3187.

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Food and its origins is the theme of a program from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov.17 at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley, led by interpretive student aide Brianna Contaxis-Tucker. Learn how much energy is required to transport food to your door.

And there’s an easy photography session planned from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Nov. 18 and again on Nov. 25. Walk a loop trail with naturalist Anthony Fisher and document the experience with camera or phone, sharing tips and ideas.

Anthony also will lead a bird-watching walk from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Nov. 19 at Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline in Richmond. Meet Anthony at the first park entrance after the tunnel from Pt. Richmond.

Both Tilden programs meet at the Environmental Education Center, which is at the north end of Central Park Drive, accessible via Canon Drive from Grizzly Peak Boulevard in Berkeley. For information on all three programs, call 510-544-2233.

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Visitors can take free, self-guided tours of the historic Hazel-Atlas mine during an open house from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17 at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch.

The tour is a walk-through from the Hazel-Atlas portal to the underground Greathouse Visitor Center. For safety reasons, the tour is restricted to ages seven and older. There will be aboveground activities for younger children and the Greathouse Visitor Center is open to all via a separate entrance.

Black Diamond Mines is at the end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle.

Black Diamond naturalist Eddie Willis also will lead a three-mile stroll around Contra Loma reservoir from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Nov. 18, seeking signs of fall.

Meet Eddie at Frederickson Lane on the Black Diamond-Contra Loma border. Rain cancels.

For information on the open house or Eddie’s stroll, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

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Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley needs YOU for a “dune day” restoration project.

It’s from 9 to 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18 and again on Dec. 9, led by naturalist Cat Taylor.

Volunteers can help to restore a small area of the dunes by removing invasive weeds and re-establishing native plants. Bring water, work gloves, wear hats, dress for the weather, and prepare to get dirty.

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

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This is just a sample of activities available in the East Bay Regional Parks. Visit the web site,, for more.

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