Park It by Ned MacKay: St. Patrick’s Day at Big Break

It’s said that if you can trap a leprechaun, he will grant you three wishes. Naturalist Cat Taylor will put this legend to the test with a “St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow’s End Treasure Hunt” on Saturday, March 17, at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley.

Anytime between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. you can drop by the park’s visitor center, build your own leprechaun trap, then follow the leprechaun’s clues through the park to the hidden treasure.

Leprechauns are imaginary (I think), but ladybugs are real. Naturalist Nichole Gange will highlight these beneficial beetles in a program at Big Break from 10 to 11 a.m. Sunday, March 18. The program repeats at the same time on March 25. And from 2 to 3 p.m. on March 18, the park’s interpretive staff will lead a walk through the wetlands to view signs of spring.

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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St. Patrick’s Day will also be observed with an “End of the Rainbow Geocache Hike” at Anthony Chabot Regional Park, led by Morgan Dill and the East Bay Regional Park District recreation department staff.

The group will go on a treasure hunt from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, using GPS-enabled devices provided by the leaders. It’s a three-mile walk, designed for ages seven and older. Bring small trinkets to trade. Meet at the Bort Meadows staging area on Redwood Road about four miles south of the intersection with Skyline Boulevard in Oakland.

The program is free, but registration is required. For more information and registration, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program number 20136.

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Perhaps in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day, the hills have turned a beautiful green, and wildflowers are starting to appear.

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch is a premier park for wildflower viewing. So naturalists Eddie Willis and Kevin Dixon plan a series of one- to three-mile wildflower hikes over sometimes-steep terrain to view wildflowers in various habitats.

All are from 10 a.m. to noon and all start at the parking lot at the end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4.

The first is a two-miler on Sunday, March 18 to check out early spring flowers in the chaparral. Subsequent hikes will be on April 21, 22 and 29. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

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The naturalists at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley plan several great programs in coming days.

There’s “Meet the Newts” from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 17 with Trail Gail Broesder. Rain or shine, the group will search in the Nature Area for newts and other salamanders.

The Nature Area’s Jewel Lake is home to one of the few remaining populations of Sacramento perch. Interpretive student aide Kate Holum will show off the perch in the aquarium, then help with some fish-related crafts in a program from 1 to 2 p.m. Sunday, March 18.

Gail will be back on the trail from 6:15 to 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 21 on a 3.5-mile hike up to Tilden’s Wildcat Peak in hopes of greeting the equinox sun. It’s for ages seven and older; bring your own coffee.

All three programs meet at Tilden’s Environmental Education Center, which is at the north end of Central Park Drive. Call 510-544-2233.

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The marshes of Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont are teeming with life. Naturalist Kristina Parkison will lead a safari there, using dip nets and binoculars, in a program from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 17. It’s for ages six and older.

The park also has an Ohlone village site that was occupied for more than 2,000 years. The interpretive staff will lead a half-mile walk to the site from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 17 to view a reconstructed shade structure, pit house and sweat house.

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

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There’s lots more to see and do in the regional parks. Visit the web site

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