The nighttime is the right time to find out about some of the animals that inhabit the Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley. Naturalist Anthony Fisher will show videos that capture night-prowling animals on motion-activated cameras, in a program from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Tilden's Environmental Education Center.

And if you enjoy gardening, join naturalist James Wilson from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, at the center's heirloom garden to perform some winter chores. The reward is some sprouts to take home for spring planting. Ages 5 and older, please.

All ages are welcome from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, to help James close Tilden's Little Farm by feeding the animals and tucking them in for the night.

The programs are free. The center, garden and farm are all at the north end of Tilden's Central Park Drive. For information, call 510-544-2233.

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    The kind of Christmas celebration described in Charles Dickens' story will come to life Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1-2, at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont.

    Carol singing, the search for the yule log, visits with Father Christmas, live musical performances and puppet shows are all part of the festivities.

    Visitors can enter a homemade Christmas cookie-baking contest by bringing their cookies and recipes with them. There will be Christmas crafts for sale, and food available for purchase at Ardenwood's Country Kitchen. And Ardenwood's Patterson House will be decorated in Victorian splendor.

    The Christmas celebration is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Entry fee is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors 62 and older, $5 for youngsters 4-17, and free for children 3 and under. Parking is free.

    Ardenwood will host two other Christmas-themed activities as well. Docent-led tours of the Patterson House are scheduled at 1, 2, and 3 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, Dec. 6, 7, 13 and 14; and at 11 a.m., noon, 1, 2, and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16. The fee is $4 for adults and seniors, $3 for children ages 3 and older (plus farm admission).

    There's also a Christmas evening at the Patterson House scheduled for 5 to 8:45 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7. Advance tickets can be purchased online at www.regerec.com. They cost $5 for adults and seniors, $3 for children. Tickets at the door are $6 and $4, respectively.

    Ardenwood Historic Farm is located at 34600 Ardenwood Blvd., just north of Highway 84 in Fremont. For more information, call the farm at 510-544-2797.

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    And while we're at Ardenwood, programs showcasing the overwintering monarch butterflies continue through December. Meet the nature interpreters at Ardenwood's granary from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 8, or Sunday, Dec. 9 for a butterfly talk and craft making, then a stroll to the grove where the monarchs shelter.

    Or take a naturalist-led walk from the granary to the grove from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.

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    The residents of the mining towns at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch planted trees from all over the world to enhance their surroundings.

    The towns have vanished, but the trees remain. Naturalist Bob Kanagaki will lead a hike to see them from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1.

    Meet Bob at the uppermost parking lot at the end of Somersville Road, five miles south of Highway 4. The hike is free; it's canceled in the event of rain. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

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    Hikes for Tykes is a series of free, easy, naturalist-led walks designed so parents with young children can explore the regional parks.

    The next one is scheduled from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, starting at the Lake Chabot Marina off Lake Chabot Road in Castro Valley. Bring a snack; if it's raining, the hike is canceled. For more information, call 510-544-3187.

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