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Trail Mix: nature activities in our area

Kestrel nest box talk Mach 28

NORTHAMPTON — State ornithologist Andrew Vitz, in partnership with Kestrel Land Trust and Hampshire Bird Club, will discuss results from a study that monitors kestrel populations and helps elucidate the mechanisms behind their long-term declines. This project was initiated in 2013. Learn about the imperiled species and how to can get involved in this year’s monitoring efforts. Learn how to become a volunteer nest box monitor or how you can get a nest box on your property. Forbes Library, 20 West St., Northampton, Wednesday, March 26, 7 p.m. Free, please RSVP to outreach@kestreltrust.org

Hike to High Ledges March 16

SHELBURNE FALLS — On Sunday March 16, the Deerfield River Watershed will host the first of its spring hikes from Davenport’s Sugar House to the High Ledges and back for a pancake and maple syrup breakfast. This hike is always very popular. Participants will leave the Sugar House at 9 a.m. Because of the unusual snowfall this year, hikers should check with the leader as to proper footwear. The hike to the High Ledges is about a mile and a half with spectacular views of Shelburne Falls and the upper Deerfield River Valley. The hike has a climb of about 300 feet to start but then is along the ridge with small ups and downs. We will return to the Sugar House about 11 a.m. for lunch. Reservations with the leader, Polly Bartlett, 413-625-6628, are requested. Poor weather will cancel the hike.

Talk focuses on disease killing eiders Monday

AMHERST— At its monthly meeting on Monday, March 10, The Hampshire Bird Club will hear about an investigation into a disease believed to be killing common eiders in Cape Cod Bay. 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. Chris Dwyer, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Hadley, who serves as the region’s avian health and disease coordinator, will report on the various investigations into fall die-offs of hundreds of the black-and-white seabirds in Wellfleet Bay since the mid-2000s. Recently research has focused on a newly discovered virus, named the Wellfleet Bay Virus, and its links with the Boston Harbor islands. For more information and directions see http://hampshirebirdclub.org

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.

In the Great Hall, 19th and 20th century photographs: Children of the Swift River Valley

∎ Friday, March 7, 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. The Greenfield Community College Chorus: Songs of Nature. The GCC Chorus will be under the direction of Margery Heins, with Marilyn Berthelette, accompanist, and soloists drawn from the chorus. The chorus is singing sacred and secular choral music on the theme of nature; planned for the concert are madrigals, rounds, folk songs, and choruses in several languages about mountains, flowers, birds, bugs, the ocean, the earth, and wind! Composers represented will include Josquin des Prez, Orlando di Lasso, Felix Mendelssohn, Antonín Dvorák, Eric Whitacre and Pete Seeger.

∎ Friday, March 14, 7 to 9 p.m., Great Falls Coffeehouse Presents: David Fersh of Charlemont. Fersh will play guitar and sing a wide variety of styles and songs, both original and by others. His repertoire ranges from folk and blues, to country and oldies rock, and also includes jazzy standards, Broadway and movie tunes, and others not easily categorized. He will perform selections from his album “Welcome to Western Massachusetts” and from his upcoming album “Songs of Peace, Protest & Spirit.” John Miller will accompany David on guitar, bass and possibly vocals.

∎ Saturday, March 15, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Winter and Spring Pre-School Series: Animal Babies! Little animals are more than cute. They are adapted to grow into the best grown up animals they can be! Join Janel Nockleby to learn about the lives of young animals through stories, crafts, and activities. For ages 3 to 6 with a parent or guardian. Siblings and friends welcome.

∎ Saturday, March 22, 1 to 2 p.m. Come learn about the mammals of the Connecticut River Watershed. Discover interesting things about bobcats, moose and bears. Watershed Investigators is a kid-oriented program that focuses on hands-on discovery. 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.

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/

∎ Tracking Fairies (and Other Things), Saturday, March 8, from 2 to 4 p.m. An afternoon of books, woods adventuring and cocoa Fairy lovers will begin in the Yurt with Ammi-Joan Paquette’s “The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies” and then head to the woods to discover special places that sprites might enjoy. Participants will also learn what other creatures are out and about by investigating animal tracks and sign found along the way. Building fairy houses and returning to the Yurt for a warming cup of cocoa will round out this afternoon for young families. If Northfield Mountain is open for skiing, participants will wear snowshoes. This event is free, $16 per family for snowshoe rentals and is appropriate for ages 4 and older. Please register by calling Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center at 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Last Blast of Winter Family Fun Hike, Saturday, March 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. Explore wooded wetlands, rocky outcrops and streams swollen with snowmelt. Families may find tracks of porcupines, snowshoe hare and coyote. Participants learn how to build a small fire, boil water for cocoa, build snow creatures, balance on logs, throw snowballs and more. If the snow has melted, then muddy fun will be in store. Dress in warm layers that can be shed and bring a water bottle. Cocoa and granola bar snacks will be provided. Directions to the meeting place will be shared with registered participants. For ages 6 and older. The event is free, $16 per family for snowshoe rentals. Please register by calling Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center at 800-859-2960.

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