Trail Mix: Nature activities in our area

Kestrel Research featured at Hampshire Bird Club

AMHERST — Joey Mason will discuss her 23 years of research on American kestrels in southeastern Massachusetts and possible reasons for the small falcon’s decline at the Hampshire Bird Club’s meeting Monday, June 10. The meeting, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Immanuel Lutheran Church, 867 North Pleasant St., Amherst.

Organizers say that Mason learned how to band hawks in Cape May, N.J., where she continues to band raptors for the Cape May Raptor Banding Project. She has also worked with Colorado wildlife officials on the state’s peregrine falcon recovery project and in 1989 began a nest box and banding project for kestrels on bogs owned by cranberry growers in southeastern Massachusetts. In 2000, she led efforts to prevent osprey electrocutions on privately owned utility poles, and has created a number of osprey nesting platforms. She recently completed a project aimed at improving management of landfill to prevent raptors from being incinerated by methane burners. For more information about the club and directions to the meeting see More information about Mason’s kestrel project is available at

Great Falls Discovery Center

2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, 413-863-3676, Open to the public Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Starting May 19, it will be open 7 days a week from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. All programs are free to the public unless otherwise noted. Facilities are accessible.

■ Sunday, June 16, 30, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Canal-side Nature Walk. Meet outside the main entrance to the Discovery Center at 8:30 a.m. We will leisurely explore level, paved bike trails and village sidewalks to learn about plants, animals, and mill town history. Topics may include birds, fish, invasive species, wildflowers, and cultural or industrial history. Please wear appropriate footwear, bring water, bug repellent and sunscreen.

■ Tuesday., June 11, 18, 25, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Kidleidoscope, a kid-friendly, environmental experience for very young children. Each topic is based on the theme “we share our home” and includes a story, interactive game, and craft activity to help you and your child understand the natural world around us. Recommended for ages from 3-6 years who must be accompanied by an adult.

■ Saturday, June 8, 1 to 3 p.m., Artist Reception. Join us in the Great Hall to welcome painter and photographer Nicole Werth and to view her exhibit, “Plants and Animals of the Connecticut River Valley: An Exploration of Native and Non-native Species from Canada to Connecticut.” Refreshments will be served.

■ Sunday, June 9 & 23, 2 to 3 p.m. Habitat Highlights Museum Tour. Explore the center’s Connecticut River watershed dioramas in a guided tour of the special habitats along the river. Each habitat plays a vital role in creating a home or rest stop for the thousands of animals and plants that depend on the watershed. From bogs to estuaries to floodplains and more, we will explore the different types of homes that rivers create.

■ Friday, June 14, 7 to 9 p.m. The Great Falls Coffeehouse Presents: Mandeville & Richards. Promoters say, “Lovers of Americana and old country music will enjoy Mark Mandeville & Raianne Richards, a folk duo from Massachusetts, whose combinations of familiar melodies and poignant lyrics are backed with delicate arrangements on ukulele, clarinet, guitar, and banjo.” Doors open at 6:30 p.m., concert begins at 7 p.m. Refreshments available. Museum and museum store open at intermission. Donations ($6 to $12 suggested).

■ Saturday, June 15, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Bike Path Bingo! Canal-side Nature Walk for Kids. Kids, grab your parents, bug spray, and sunscreen, and then we’ll go exploring! All ages are welcome as we practice examining the natural world with field guides, binoculars, and a fun game to see just how much you can see!

■ Thursday, June 20, 6:45 p.m. Museum Tour with Mural Painter Frank Gregory & Friends of the Great Falls Discovery Center Annual Meeting. Meet the Friends of the Great Falls Discovery Center and learn how you can become a friend too. Then join us for a special museum tour with Frank Gregory at 7 p.m., the artist who painted all of the amazing murals in the Great Falls Discovery Center exhibits. Light refreshments provided.

■ Friday, June 21, Summer Evening Hours Start Today on the Solstice. The center will be open every Friday and Saturday until 8 p.m. until September.

■ Friday, June 21, 6 to 7 p.m. Watershed History: The Grand Trunk Hotel. What was so grand about the Grand Trunk Hotel in Turners Falls? Right next to where the center is today, the hotel was built in 1872 and taken down in 1968. We’ll use our imaginations, old photographs, and testimonials to piece together the story of grand old days in Turners Falls.

■ Saturday, June 22, 10:30 a.m. to noon. Watershed Investigators: Creepy, Crawly, Insect Investigation “Watershed Investigators” is a monthly kid-oriented program that focuses on hands-on discovery of local nature. Join refuge staff as we explore different ways to look at the natural world around us. Methods of discovery may include crafts, games, stories and exploration. This program is geared toward grades 2-5, but everyone is welcome.

■ Friday, June 28, 6 to 7 p.m. Watershed Poets. Join us to take a new look at the natural world around you. Watershed Poets explores the plants and animals of the Connecticut River watershed as seen through the eyes of local poets. We will investigate birds, wildflowers, trees, the poetry of field guides, and the wonders of the watershed. Enjoy a lively discussion of works by poets such as Emily Dickinson, Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, Wallace Stevens, and more!

■ Saturday, June 29, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Water Under the Bridge Bike Tour. Join us for a leisurely two-hour bike tour along the Turners Falls Bike Path that highlights the history of the bridges in Turners Falls and Montague City. Come learn about the many challenges associated with getting over the Connecticut River historically in our villages. Bring your bike, water, bug spray, helmet and sun block.

Northfield Mountain

99 Millers Falls Road (Route 63), Northfield. 413-659-3714 or 800-859-2960. Owned and operated by FirstLight Power Resources.

∎ Kayak with your Kiddo. Join Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center staff on Saturday, June 8, from 9 to 10 a.m. for an introduction to tandem kayaking for an adult and child. As the group explores the special nooks and crannies of Barton Cove, kids can paddle as they are able and parents can provide the power and direction for the boat. The group will begin learning kayaking basics, turning right, left and going straight and then set off across the cove while paddlers learn to work as a team. Bring along a snack and drink to enjoy while the group takes a break from the boats and skips stones before returning to our starting place. No prior kayaking experience required. Life jackets will be worn by all participants during the program. This event is for ages 7 and older. The fee is $20 per adult child pair. Register by calling Northfield Mountain at 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Intergenerational African & Caribbean Drum and Song Jam. Celebrate Father’s Day and the upcoming Summer Solstice with educator/musician Aimee Gelinas M.Ed., co-founder of Gaia Roots World Music and director of Tamarack Hollow Nature & Cultural Center in Windsor. Hear and see demonstrations of traditional West African and Caribbean instruments, rhythms and songs in a short demo with members of Gaia Roots. Then try your hand at drumming by joining a community music jam for all ages. This event takes place along the river at Unity Park in Turners Falls on Sunday, June 16, from 2 to 3 p.m. Free.

∎ Summer Solstice Sunset — Moonrise Kayak. Celebrate the beginning of summer with Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center staff on Friday, June 21, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. for a sunset — moonrise kayak. During this evening paddle, we’ll share poems about the turning of the seasons and observe how plants and animals of the cove may view the day. Two nights before the Full Strawberry Moon, we also hope to paddle in both sunlight and moonlight as we immerse ourselves in the longest day of the year. This program is appropriate for both beginning and experienced paddlers, aged 16 and older, and tandem kayaks are available. Register by calling Northfield Mountain at 1-800-859-2960.

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