Park It by Ned MacKay: Nature at night

A lot of activity in the animal world occurs at night, when the regional parks are usually closed to us humans.

But for a glimpse into the mysterious world of wildlife after dark, join naturalist Constance Taylor for a walk from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Brushy Peak Regional Preserve in Livermore.

Bring a headlamp and drinking water; dress in layers in case it’s cool. The walk is approximately three miles long, for ages five and older.

Meet Constance at the park’s Laughlin Ranch Staging Area. It’s at the end of Laughlin Road off Northfront Road, which parallels the north side of I-580. For information, call 510-544-3239.

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Newts, those little gold amphibians that head for ponds this time of year in search of mates, are the stars of three upcoming programs in the regional parks.

Naturalist Virginia Delgado will lead a walk in search of newts and other amphibians from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Briones Regional Park near Martinez.

The walk is for ages five and older. For information and directions, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

Another newt walk is from 1:30 to 3 p.m. the same day at Garin Regional Park in Hayward with naturalist Kristina Parkison. Garin Park is at the end of Garin Road off Mission Boulevard.

Kristina’s walk is also for ages five and older. It’s free, but registration is required. Call 888-327-2757, select option 2 and refer to program number 23693.

And there’s more. Naturalist Ashley Grenier will lead a hike from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Feb. 24 at Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County. The destination is a secret pond with frogs, toads, newts and other amphibious creatures.

Sunol is at the end of Geary Road off Calaveras Road, five miles south of I-680. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. Ashley’s hike is for ages eight and up. Registration is required. Call 888-327-2757, select option 2, and refer to program 23755.

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Out at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley, three nature programs are on the agenda for the weekend of Feb. 23 and 24.

Drop in at the park’s visitor center any time between 8 and 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, to see a live snake and learn about its life and habitat.

And from 2 to 3 p.m. the same day, it’s time for a plankton plunge. The naturalists will help visitors to collect and identify plankton, and talk about the vital role the tiny creatures play in the Delta ecosystem.

Then from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Feb. 24, naturalist Cat Taylor will lead a clinic on nature photography using your iPhone. She’ll show some simple tricks for better results and in-phone editing. There’s a group critique at the end.

The session is free, but registration is required. To register, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program 23659. For the program, bring your charged iPhone and backup charger.

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Photographers will enjoy “Nature in Black and White,” a program from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17, which repeats at the same time on Feb. 24, in the Environmental Education Center at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley.

Naturalist Anthony Fisher will show the group some classic black and white images, then lead a walk into the park to make new ones.

The focus is on texture, form and pattern in absence of color, using phone or camera.

The center is at the north end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive. Call 510-544-2233.

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There’s always lots of family-friendly fun in the regional parks, mostly free of charge. For lots more information, and park maps you can download, visit the district website at

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