Park It: Great backyard bird count

Birding enthusiasts worldwide will join in this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count, scheduled for Friday through Monday, Feb. 15 through 18.

It’s an annual project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society in partnership with Bird Studies Canada.

The idea is to count the birds you see for 15 minutes on one or more days of the project, then enter your checklists at the web site, More information is available at the web site.

Two East Bay Regional Parks will participate. At Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley, naturalist Cat Taylor will lead a count from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17. All levels of bird expertise are welcome. Bring binoculars if you have them; the park has some available to loan. Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street. Call 888-327-2757

And at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton, naturalist Ashley Adams will coordinate a bird count from 9 to 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17. Shadow Cliffs is on Stanley Boulevard just east of Valley Avenue. For information, call Sunol Wilderness at 510-544-3249.

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Birds, ancient volcanoes, newts, and labyrinths are all part of a program from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17 at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve in the Oakland Hills.

Naturalist Michael Charnofsky will lead a moderate, 2½-mile hike to find the hidden labyrinths in historic quarries, scan the sky for eagles, and search the ponds for newts.

Meet Michael at the park entrance on Skyline Boulevard just south of the intersection with Grizzly Peak Boulevard. For information, call 510-544-3187.

Sibley Preserve also will be the venue for a Wednesday Walk, starting at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 20, led by naturalist Susan Ramos.

Wednesday Walkers are an informal group of hikers of all ages and abilities, who explore a different regional park each time.

For the Sibley walk, meet at the park’s Old Tunnel Road staging area on the east side of the Caldecott Tunnel off Highway 24. For information and directions, call 510-544-3187.

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Down at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda, a survey of a different sort is planned from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 with naturalist Morgan Dill.

Visitors can don hip boots provided by the park, wade into the Bay, and use a seine net to catch and release some of the fish that live there.

The program is for ages 10 and older. Crab Cove is at the end of McKay Avenue off Alameda’s Central Avenue. For information, call 510-544-3187.

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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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A native knowledge nature walk is the plan from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont.

Naturalist Kristina Parkison will share plant use and animal lore known by generations of Ohlones.

The program is for ages seven and older and parent participation is required. Meet at the park visitor center at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. Call 510-544-3220.

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There’s always something enjoyable to see and do in the regional parks. For a full schedule, visit the web site,

– Ned MacKay

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