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Trail Mix: nature activities in our area

Competitive paddling Saturday

ORANGE — Trail Head, 1 South Main St., Orange, will be having a free workshop Saturday, March 15, at 7 p.m. This event will be all about competitive paddling. The presenters are father/daughter team Eric and Phoebe Jones from Granby, Conn. They have been racing canoes downriver for four years. Phoebe, who is 8 years old, won’t be eligible to compete at the ACA Nationals until 2015. Assisting them will be local paddler Pam Browning, who has been racing canoes and kayaks for over 25 years. She was the first woman to race kayak in the one-day “General Clinton” 70-mile Regatta. The workshop will explain how to get into racing, how to train when the races are and more. 978-249-8500.

Hike to High Ledges Sunday

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.

Kestrel nest box talk March 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 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, RSVP to outreach@kestreltrust.org

Great Falls Discovery Center

∎ 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/

∎ 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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