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Trail Mix: Outdoor activies in our area

Still Openings for Volunteers for October 5 Annual Source-to-Sea Cleanup

Are you willing to get your hands dirty and your feet a bit muddy for a good cause? The Gill-Montague section of the Annual Source-to-Sea River Clean-up is looking for volunteers to help clear trash and debris from the sides of the Connecticut River on Saturday, Oct. 5.

Volunteers for the Montague-Gill section will meet at 9 a.m. at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls to register, snag an Adams doughnut and pick up gloves, trash bags and other equipment before heading out to their assigned sites. Around noon, the crews will return to the Discovery Center to report what they cleaned up and swap stories about the largest, grossest, or weirdest stuff they found. From 10 a.m. until around 3 p.m., volunteers with trucks will make a circuit to all the sites to load up and remove the trash to the transfer station. As a reward for participants’ altruism, the Northfield-Mount Hermon School generously provides whoopee pies every year and the Rendezvous offers post-Clean-up snacks. Trash haulers work later in the day and enjoy breakfast goodies from Second Street Bakery and a free lunch from the Wagon Wheel Restaurant.

Volunteers include individuals, families, school groups, scout troops and business groups. People can collect trash on foot, by boat or by truck. New groups participating in 2013 include the Mount Toby Friends Meeting and Viridian Energy; returning groups include Deerfield Academy and the Franklin County Technical School. The latter group typically comes with ropes and pulleys and visits sites with the most challenging terrain and bulky waste items to retrieve. This year, there will be two boat clean-ups, with openings for volunteers. One group will use canoes and join refuge staff from the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge to clean Third Island. The other will join FirstLight Power’s Bill Gabriel on a power boat in the Gill-Montague-Erving area. You must be able to swim, wear a life jacket, and of course are required to observe water safety procedures for these positions.

If you would like to be part of the clean-up, please call the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center 800-859-2960 for the Gill-Montague section. Truck haulers especially are still needed. For elsewhere in the watershed, call the Connecticut River Watershed Council 413-772-2020, ext. 201, or e-mail

“Birds of Hawley Bog” dinner Sept. 15

HAWLEY — Greenfield resident Bill Thomson will be presenting a slide talk at the Sons & Daughters of Hawley annual Nature Dinner, Sunday, Sept. 15, at Stump Sprouts, 63 West Hill Road in Hawley. Dinner at 4:30 p.m. Slide talk at 6 p.m. Suggested donation of $10 per person benefits the restoration of the East Hawley Meetinghouse. Thompson has been an avid birder for more than 40 years and an avid bird photographer for the last six. Born and raised in Rhode Island, he has lived in more than a dozen states, most recently in Alaska, before moving to Massachusetts in December 2010. His hobbies include birding, bird photography, wilderness hiking/camping and group fitness training. He works for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Hadley. Reservations necessary. Contact: John at 339-4211 or Lark at 339-0124. For more information,

Catamount Hills hike Sept. 14

COLRAIN — The Deerfield River Watershed Association in cooperation with the Colrain Historical Society offers a hike in the Catamount Hills for families on Saturday, Sept. 14. Muriel Russell will lead the hike to, in and around the Devil’s Oven where hikers will have lunch. The hike covers about three fourths of a mile and takes less than an hour to walk so is easy for young children and older adults.

To reach the meeting place from Route 112 in Griswoldville in Colrain , take the Adamsville Road across the iron bridge to the next bridge across the river to the West Branch Cemetery. Park near the bridge to car pool to the trail head where parking is limited. Meet at the cemetery at 10:45. Bring lunch, flashlight, water, unscented bug repellant and dress for the weather. Please register with Russell at 413-624-3311.

A special Catamount exhibit will be open for viewing on Sunday afternoon from 2-5 p.m. at the Colrain Historical society in Colrain Center.

Bon Voyage to the Birds

As the days get shorter, students head back to school and birds — many of them, anyway — head south to warmer climes. This fall, the Athol Bird and Nature Club will offer a number of opportunities to observe both fall migrants and resident birds

∎ Jeff Johnstone will be leading the “Early Bird” sessions, meeting at the Millers River Environmental Center, 100 Main St., Athol, at 7 a.m. every Sunday from Sept. 1 through Oct. 2. Birders carpool for these outings to a series of sites and are welcome to attend for an hour or all morning. For two decades Johnstone has been guiding birders in observing migrating birds as they move through the North Quabbin Region. These informal trips are a long-time favorite for beginner and advanced birders alike, offering an opportunity for folks to see where to find migrating birds and valuable assistance on how to identify them.

∎ Joseph Superchi continues his popular “Second Tuesday” accessible birding sessions from 8 to 10 a.m. on Sep. 10, Oct. 8, Nov. 12, and Dec. 10, meeting at the center before heading out to a variety of sites. Those wishing wheelchair van access can call ahead to 978-248-9491.

∎ The birding year will end off with the Christmas Bird Count all day on Dec. 14. This “citizen scientist” project is the longest continuously running compilation of bird data in the area. Contact ABNC president Dave Small at 978-413-1772 or for additional information and to participate in this nationwide annual event.

The outings are sponsored by the Athol Bird and Nature Club, an active group of people sharing an appreciation of nature’s many forms. More information about the club is available on the web at New members are welcome.

Great Falls Discovery Center

2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, 413-863-3676, Open to the public 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.

∎ In the Great Hall: Watercolors by Diane Nevinsmith, Through Sept. 30.

∎ Friday, Sept. 13, 7 to 9 p.m. Great Falls Coffeehouse Presents: Pitchfork. Deep backwoods grooves and stark New England poetry venturing into expansive wavelengths of harmonica, trombone, and tuba. 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 Great Falls Discovery Center.

∎ Saturday, Sept. 14, 10:30 a.m. to noon. Watershed Investigators: Build Your Own Water Turbine. 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 to 5, but everyone is welcome.

∎ Saturday, Sept. 14, 2 to 3:30 p.m., Watershed History: The Patch. A small patch of land sits in the middle of the Connecticut River at Turners Falls, sandwiched between the power canal on one side and the largest river in New England on the other. The history of “The Patch” is the story of industrialization, immigration, fish, birds, rocks, resilience and more. We’ll explore many of these stories during a leisurely stroll through the little neighborhood with eight streets and paths through the woods and amazing views. We will meet at the corner of Avenue A and Eleventh Street in Turners Falls, near the canal side bike path to start our journey.

∎ Friday, Sept. 20, 2 to 3 p.m., Live Birds of Prey Program with Tom Ricardi, who will share the natural history of these magnificent birds and demonstrate some of their unique behaviors.

∎ Saturday, Sept. 21 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Growing Up Wild Professional Development Workshop. “Growing Up Wild” is an early childhood education activity guide that builds on children’s sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and the world around them. This full day workshop will introduce participants to the guide and the lessons and activities within it. All participants will receive a copy of “Growing Up Wild” and a certificate of completion. Registration is required. Workshop fee is $25. Contact Pam Landry at or 508-389-6310 to register or for more information. Registration deadline is Sept. 9. This workshop is hosted by MassWildlife and DCR.

∎ Friday, Sept. 27, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Discovery Hour: Monarch Butterflies. Young children ages 3 to 6 and their parents are invited to join refuge staff from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. as we discover different things about local wildlife and the places they live. Be ready to be crafty, have fun, and bring your imagination as we explore the natural world around us.

∎ Saturday, Sept. 28, 2 to 3 p.m., Watershed History: The Brickyards of Montague City. Local industrial-era mills, businesses, tenements, and homes were built from the ground up - quite literally from the clay of the banks of the Connecticut River right here in Montague City. Come learn about local brick manufacturing and architectural styles and designs with brick in Turners Falls.

Northfield Mountain

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

∎ Hydro-Power Generation in Turners Falls with Rachel Roberts, Saturday, Sept. 21, from 10 a.m. until noon, join educator Rachel Roberts and FirstLight Power staff for an exciting program about Hydro-Power Generation focusing on its historic and current production in Turners Falls. Together we will do a variety of hands-on science activities connected to general concepts of generating electricity with water. This class will reinforce participants’ understanding of generating power, how electricity is made, and simple machines. Turners Falls #1 and Cabot Station use water turbines (a rotary engine that takes energy from moving water) to generate electrical power and photos of the stations will be shown for participants’ observation of a local water turbine in action. We will begin the class near the Fishway and will walk along the canal to take a closer look at the dam system. This family workshop is free and is supported in part by a grant from the Montague Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. The event is for ages 8 and older and will be held at Unity Park by the Turners Falls Fishway parking area. Please pre-register by calling Northfield Mountain at 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Wild Edibles: Weed ’em & Reap, Saturday, Sept. 21 from 1 to 3 p.m. Many so-called “weeds” are tasty, free, & nutritious. Join author and filmmaker Blanche Derby at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center. We will forage in field and forest and discover new wild edible plant friends with author and filmmaker Blanche Derby. This relaxing “walkshop” around the Center’s grounds will be followed by a light snack. Blanche has spent years foraging and preparing foods from the wild. Join her as she shares her knowledge and stories about these plants. Be sure to check out her website: which has a link to over 30 of her wild food videos on YouTube. This free event is for ages 12 and older and has a rain date of Sunday, Sept. 22. Please register by calling Northfield Mountain at 1-800-859-2960.

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