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Trail Mix: nature activities in our area

Bird club honors local naturalist

The Hampshire Bird Club honors one of its own, visionary naturalist and conservationist Harvey Allen, at its monthly meeting on Monday, Feb. 10. The meeting, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7:15 p.m. in the Immanuel Lutheran Church Hall, 867 North Pleasant St., Amherst.

Allen, of Amherst, was born in 1930 and has spent his life getting to know and protect and preserve the landscape and animals, especially birds of the Pioneer Valley. He has served on the boards of the Valley Land Fund, the Kestrel Land Trust, the Amherst Conservation Commission and the Hitchcock Center. He is also a founding member of the Hampshire Bird Club and in his spare time has helped the homeless and hungry in the valley.

The meeting will feature a 38-minute documentary edited by Tom Adams of Williamsburg, owner of Reelife Productions, and produced by Robert A. Jonas of Ashfield, chairman of the Kestrel Land Trust that follows Allen into farmland, fields and forests,

Great Falls Discovery Center

2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, 413-863-3676, www.greatfallsdiscoverycenter.org. Open to the public Fridays and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All programs are free to the public unless otherwise noted. Facilities are accessible.

∎ Saturday, Feb. 8, 1 to 3 p.m. Opening Reception for Children of the Swift River Valley exhibit. Family-friendly exhibit of historic photos focusing on the children of the Swift River Valley before it was flooded. This exhibit is presented by the Swift River Valley Historical Society and will be open Fridays and Saturdays through the end of March.

∎ Friday, Feb. 14, 7 to 9 p.m. Great Falls Coffeehouse Presents: Fire Pond. Eveline MacDougall and Douglas Reid present a wide variety of music: old-time fiddle tunes, swing, roots music, Celtic, Eastern European, folk, gospel, and originals. The Valentine’s Evening show at the Discovery Center will feature many types of love songs (love for the earth, love for each other, good jokes, family, chocolate, & community). 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) help the Friends support free programming at the center.

∎ Saturday, Feb. 15, 1 to 2 p.m. Watershed Investigators: Bears. It’s the time of year when bear cubs are being born in their dens and adult bears are thinking about coming out of hibernation. Come learn all about bears and what they have been doing all winter. “Watershed Investigators” is a 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 towards grades 2 to 5, but everyone is welcome.

∎ Thursday, Feb. 20, 7 to 9 p.m. Greenfield Garden Club Presents: The Smith College Botanic Garden: Past, Present and Future. This evening will feature two guest speakers. First, Cynthia Boettner of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge will present an update on new invasive species to the Franklin County area and the things that can be done to prevent their spread. Following her, Michael Marcotrigiano, professor of biological sciences and director of the Botanic Garden at Smith College in Northampton, will give a talk highlighting the past, present and future of the Smith College Botanic Garden. Smith College contains over 8,000 taxa of plants that are housed within its outdoor gardens, glass houses, and Arboretum.

∎ Saturday, Feb. 22, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Winter and Spring Pre-school Series: Where Are All the Animals Hiding? Winter is a time for staying snug and warm for animals, too. Join Janel Nockleby to investigate the secret hidden animal homes of the season through stories, crafts, and activities. For ages 3 to 6 with a parent or guardian. Siblings and friends welcome.

Northfield Mountain

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

∎ Valentine’s Day Full Moon Snowshoe. Friday, Feb. 14, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. On this adventure for lovers of the natural world, look for signs of local wildlife and learn which of them are in a mating mood. There will be piping hot cup of cocoa after the walk. Inspiring quotes, outdoor exercise and local fare. No previous snowshoeing experience is necessary. Bring water, wear wind pants or gaiters if you have them and dress in warm layers that can be shed. In case of no snow, a moonlit hike will be offered. The fee is $5 or $21 with snowshoe rentals and is appropriate for ages 16 and older. Please register by calling 800-859-2960.

∎ Wildlife Tracking; Predators, Patterns and Prints. Join Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center naturalist Kim Noyes on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. for Wildlife Tracking. Learn how to identify the tracks left behind by local wildlife. The stories they leave in the snow can offer fascinating glimpses into their mysterious lives. Perhaps we’ll find signs of fox and porcupine, or the elusive and secretive fisher? This outdoor program will include an introduction to common track patterns and helpful tips for observing prints as well as the opportunity to follow tracks and sign to learn more about an animal’s behavior. We’ll explore the trails, field edges and forests as we search for clues and discover which animals are active in winter. Participants should be in moderate shape and the program will include some off-trail tracking. If we are open for skiing, snowshoes are required. This event is for ages 12 and older and is free, $16 with snowshoe rentals. Please register by calling 800-859-2960.

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