Despite recent storms, drought conditions prevalent throughout the state have affected recreational services at Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore.

Anticipated low lake levels will affect the park's ability to maintain drinking water and basic sanitary services for restrooms. Drought conditions will also affect fire protection and access to recreational uses at the lake. As a result, East Bay Regional Park District is accepting no reservations at Del Valle beyond June 8 for camping, picnicking, swimming or special events.

Lake Del Valle receives a lot of its water from the State Water Project, whose allotments have been severely limited by the ongoing drought. Existing reservations for dates before June 8 will be honored contingent upon drought conditions. Long-term weather prediction being what it is, this is one of those "stay tuned" situations. But at present the outlook for full restoration of services is doubtful. For updates on the situation, you can visit the park district website at www.ebparks.org.

TILDEN: "Feed the Birds," the song from "Mary Poppins" urges. In a free program at Tilden Nature Area in the Berkeley hills from 2 to 3:30 p.m. March 15, interpretive student aide Tricia Radis will show you how to make a bird feeder out of pinecones and seeds.


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Also at Tilden, naturalist "Trail" Gail Broesder will lead an equinox sun hike to the top of Wildcat Peak from 6:15 to 8:30 a.m. March 20. That day is the vernal equinox, when the day and night are of equal length. Astronomically, it's considered the start of spring. Gail's hike is for ages 12 and older. Bring your own coffee. For either program, meet at Tilden's Environmental Education Center. To get there, park at the end of Lone Oak Road off Central Park Drive, and follow the signs to the center.

Starting a fire the really old-fashioned way is the theme of another program at the center, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. March 22, led by naturalist Anthony Fisher. Anthony will show how to start a fire using a hand drill, bow drill or flint and steel. Participants will be able to make their own primitive fire kit to take home. The program is for ages 10 and older. Registration is required, and there's a fee of $5 per person ($7 for nondistrict residents). For registration and information, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program number 5142.

The Over-the-Hills Gang is an informal group of hikers ages 55 and older who enjoy nature study, fitness and fun. The group will explore the Tilden Nature Area during a hike from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. March 18, led by naturalist James Wilson. Meet at the Environmental Education Center. For more information on any of these four programs, call 510-544-2233.

BIRDING WALK: Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont is a great place for bird watching. Taking advantage of this, naturalist Kristina Parkison will lead a birding walk there from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. March 18. The walks are designed for ages 12 and older. All levels of expertise are welcome. If you come, bring water, sunscreen and binoculars or scopes.

Coyote Hills is located at 8000 Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. There's a $5 parking fee; the bird walk is free. Meet Kristina at the visitor center at the end of the road. For information, call 510-544 3220.

CRAB COVE: Legend has it that St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland. Maybe they took refuge at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda, where reptiles will be the stars of the Family Nature Fun Hours from 2 to 3 p.m. March 15 and 16.

It's an opportunity to see some live examples up close but safely. The program is free of charge. Crab Cove is located at 1252 McKay Avenue off Central Avenue. For information, call 510-544-3187.

REDWOOD REGIONAL: You can watch the moon rise and the sun set during a moderate 33/4-mile walk at Redwood Regional Park in Oakland. It's from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 15, led by Sharol Nelson-Embry, Crab Cove's supervising naturalist.

Meet at the Trudeau Staging Area on Skyline Boulevard just south of the intersection with Joaquin Miller Road. Rain cancels, of course, since the moonrise and sunset won't be visible. For information, call 510-544-3187.

MARTINEZ REGIONAL: Naturalist Eddie Willis will lead a marshy meander from 10 to 11:30 a.m. March 16 at Martinez Regional Shoreline, to check out the effects of winter on the salt marsh. It's a great place to see shorebirds. Designed for ages 6 and older, the hike is free. Meet Eddie at the shoreline's main parking lot on North Court Street in Martinez. For information, call 510-544-2750.

CONTRA LOMA: Games, nature exploration and family fun are on tap from 10 a.m. to noon March 16 at Contra Loma Regional Park in Antioch, all organized by naturalist Ashley Elliott.

The event is for ages 6 and older. Meet at the boat launch ramp parking lot just past the entrance kiosk. Contra Loma Regional Park is located on Frederickson Lane off Golf Course Road in Antioch. There's a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at nedmackay@comcast.net.