The Little Farm animals at Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley will be well cared for as always while the farm is closed to the public during an extensive sewage system repair and upgrading project.
The ducks, chickens, goats, pigs and other smaller animals will remain where they are, though they will not be available for public viewing. The cows, however, will be "mooved" to a small family farm off-site for the duration of the project. It's expected they will be happier away from the construction commotion. Tilden's Environmental Education Center adjacent to the Little Farm will be open on weekends only. The easiest place to park is at the end of Lone Oak Road. Signage will direct pedestrians from there to the center.
In other animal news, remember that Tilden's South Park Drive will be closed to vehicle traffic from Nov. 1 through the end of the rainy season, which usually occurs by the end of April. South Park Drive extends from Grizzly Peak Boulevard near the Tilden steam train down to Wildcat Canyon Road at the botanic garden.
During closure, you can reach Tilden by continuing down South Park Drive to Golf Course Road and Shasta Road. Closure is necessary for the safety of newts, a brown-gold variety of salamander. South Park Drive bisects the annual migration route of the newts, which cross it en route from their summer quarters in woods and fields to their winter mating grounds on Wildcat Creek.
The road will remain open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. You may even see some migrating newts. But please don't pick them up. All the regional parks are essentially wildlife preserves where it's against the rules to collect and remove any plants or animals. Besides that, newts have a poisonous substance on their skin as protection against predators.
CRAB COVE: "Halloween Animal Fun" is the theme of the family nature hour from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda. Learn about ghosts (shrimp) and bats (rays). The program is free and open to all ages. Then from 3 to 3:30 p.m. it's fish feeding time at the center's large aquarium, which harbors all kinds of swimmers native to San Francisco Bay. Crab Cove is at 1252 McKay Ave., off Central Avenue in Alameda. For information, call the visitor center at 510-544-3187.
Briones Regional: The lagoons at Briones Regional Park near Martinez are the destination of an early Sunday nature walk from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, led by naturalist Anthony Fisher. The hike is free. Meet at the end of Briones Road off Alhambra Valley Road. For directions and information, call 510-544-2233.
MORGAN TERRITORY: Naturalist Mike Moran continues his citizen-assisted scientific research with a walk from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 31 at Morgan Territory Regional Preserve east of Mount Diablo to check out the number and variety of birds of prey. No experience is necessary; Mike will show you how to identify the birds.
And there may still be space available on a free levee-top trek planned from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley, led by naturalist Kevin Damstra. It's a guided walk to discover the many varieties of wildlife habitat along the way.
Both programs are free, but registration is required. For information and registration, call 888-327-2757 and select option 2. For the bird walk, refer to program 3837. For the levee ramble, refer to 3871. For general information about Big Break, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.
Ardenwood: The run-up to Halloween continues at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont with a couple of special programs this weekend.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday it's Halloween high jinks with naturalist aide Mindy Castle. At 11 a.m. there's roasting pumpkin seeds in a wood-burning stove. At noon it's apple cider pressing time. Halloween crafts are at 1 p.m. and Halloween games at 2 p.m.
Then there's a pumpkin-carving clinic from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, led by naturalist aide Andrew Staley. Bring your own pumpkin or purchase one from the farm; the staff will provide some tools and guidance for your jack-o-lantern creation. Ardenwood is located at 34600 Ardenwood Blvd., just north of Highway 84. For information on admission fees and programs, call 510-544-2797.
HOLIDAY TREAT: By the way, those pumpkin seeds left over from your jack-o-lantern carving do make a tasty, chewy treat when toasted in your oven. I do it every year. Preparation is messy but fun. There are lots of recipes available online. Just search for "pumpkin seeds," and pick one that sounds good.
Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.