Park It by Ned MacKay: Tilden Fungal Fair

The rainy season is mushroom time in the woods and fields. Varieties ranging from edible to poisonous spring up under the oaks and elsewhere in the East Bay Regional Parks.

Collecting mushrooms is against the rules in the parklands. Besides, it’s dangerous, unless you are expert at identifying the edible varieties.

However you can view hundreds of local mushroom specimens during the Tilden Fungal Fair, which is from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3 at Tilden’s Environmental Education Center near Berkeley. It’s a chance to meet mushroom experts and attend presentations by guest speakers.

The center is located at the north end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive, accessible via Canon Drive from Grizzly Peak Boulevard in Berkeley. Admission to the fair is free of charge and all ages are welcome. For information, call 510-544-2233.

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Saturday, Feb. 2 is World Wetland Day, and the naturalists at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley plan to celebrate it with a walk down the Marsh Creek Trail to see the wetland restoration project at Dutch Slough. It’s an easy stroll of just over two miles. Bring water and a snack.

The walk is free of charge, but registration is required. For registration and directions, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program number 23827.

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It’s “Superb Owl Sunday” on Feb. 3 at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch.

Naturalist Kevin Dixon will lead a walk in search of the wide-eyed wonders from 4:45 to 6:45 p.m. The program is for ages 8 and older.

Meet Kevin in the parking lot at the end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

A plant that’s prolific in the rainy season is Indian Warrior, a pretty, magenta-colored flower with fernlike leaves that springs up under manzanita bushes. Indian Warrior is hemiparasitic; it parasitizes the roots of its host plant, but also can produce its own energy through photosynthesis.

You can see it at Black Diamond Mines at the top of the Ridge Trail, up the hill from the junction with the Chaparral Loop Trail. Another location with lots of it is the Manzanita Loop at Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve in El Sobrante.

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This is the season for newts, too: those brown-gold salamanders that mate in the streams and ponds this time of year.

Naturalist Ashley Adams will lead a newt safari from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3 at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness in San Ramon.

Meet Ashley at the north end of Bollinger Canyon Road off Crow Canyon Road for a 1½-mile walk along Bollinger Creek in search of the amorous critters. For information, call 510-544-3249.

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Naturalist Anthony Fisher leads bird walks on Mondays at various regional parks. His next is from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Feb. 4 at Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline in Pt. Richmond.

Meet Anthony at the first parking lot after the tunnel on Dornan Drive. Call 544-2233 for information.

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You’ll see a seal colony and other wildlife during a three-mile walk from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Feb. 3 starting at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda, led by naturalist Michael Charnofsky. Michael will discuss conservation issues and show where to look for the unexpected. Binoculars will be available for loan.

Crab Cove is at the end of McKay Avenue off Alameda’s Central Avenue. Call 510-544-3187.

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World Wetland Day, the newt walk, and the Crab Cove seal viewing are all Healthy Parks/Healthy People activities – a program of outings that provide safe, low-impact physical activity to improve Bay Area residents’ health and well-being through enjoyment of the regional parks. For information, visit the website,

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