Trail Mix: nature activities in our area

Watershed cleanup seeks volunteers

The Gill-Montague section of the annual Source-to-Sea River Clean-up still needs 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 Adam’s 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. 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.

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.

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

Athol Bird and Nature Club

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

∎ Joseph Superchi continues his popular “Second Tuesday” accessible birding sessions from 8 to 10 a.m. 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: “Changing Coastlines, Oil Paintings by Paula Tessier,” through Nov. 30.

∎ Tuesday, Oct. 8, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Kidleidoscope. A kid-friendly, hands-on environmental experience for very young children. Each topic includes a story, interactive games and activities, and a craft to help you and your child understand the world around us. Programming recommended for ages 3 to 6 with a parent or guardian.

∎ Saturday, Oct. 5, 9 a.m. Source to Sea Cleanup. An annual one-day coordinated cleanup of the rivers, streams and banks that make up the vast Connecticut River system. The teams responsible for working on the Gill-Montague section of the river work out of the Great Falls Discovery Center. Register at 800-859-2960.

∎ Sunday. Oct. 6, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Canal-Side Nature and History Walk. Meet outside the center’s main entrance at 8:30 am. We will leisurely explore level, paved bike trails to learn about plants, animals, and mill town history. Your interests will determine our focus — perhaps birds, fish, wildflowers, or industrial history. Bring water, bug repellent, and sun screen.

∎ Sunday. Oct. 6, 2 to 3 p.m. Leaf Peepin’ Bike Path Bingo. 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 of bingo to see just how much we can see! This month we will focus on colors and shapes of autumn leaves.

∎ Friday, Oct. 11, 7 to 9 p.m. Martin Swinger performs at the Great Falls Coffeehouse. Swinger is a lively singer-songwriter whose music spans Autism, oysters, dyslexic theology, Betty Boop and Buddha with performance panache and ingenious songs which are surprising, intimate, outrageous, and true. Opening for Martin will be local performer Stephanie Marshall of The Boxcar Lilies. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., concert begins at 7. Refreshments will be available. Museum and Museum Store are open during intermission. Donations ($6 to $12 suggested at the door) help the Friends support free nature programs at the Center.

∎ Saturday, Oct. 12, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Watershed Investigators: Beavers. Watershed investigators is a monthly, kid-oriented program that focuses on hands-on explorations of the nature found in the local area. Each month, we will explore nature by looking at touchable items, by playing games, by completing art projects, and through outdoor explorations. This program is oriented toward elementary age students; however, all ages are welcome.

∎ Saturday, Oct. 12, 3 to 4 p.m. Artist Reception: Changing Coastlines Extended; Large Oil Paintings by Paula Tessier. “It takes great courage to paint and let the inner landscape be seen. The oil paintings in ‘Changing Coastlines Extended’ embrace the changes in our climate and ecology. This show is a wake-up call. It invites deeper connections in the natural world for balance and upliftment” — Paula Tessier . Refreshments will be served.

∎ Friday, Oct. 25, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Bats: Young children ages 3 to 6 and their parents are invited to join refuge staff as we explore different things about local wildlife and the places they live. Be ready to have fun and be crafty. Bring your imagination as we explore the natural world around us.

Northfield Mountain

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

∎  Connecticut River Source to Sea Cleanup. Get your hands dirty and your feet wet on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 9 a.m. until noon, during the 17th year of the Connecticut River Source to Sea Cleanup. Individuals or groups work as teams to make the watershed a cleaner place on sites that run the gamut from fishing trash to illegal dumping. School groups can schedule cleanups in the week preceding the Oct. 5. Register by calling 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Fall Foliage Hike to Rose Ledges. Rose Ledge trail is one of the Northfield Mountain staff favorites, offering beautiful scenery during peak fall foliage. This three-mile hike will be lead by Recreation and Environmental Center naturalist Kim Noyes on Saturday, Oct. 12 from 12:30 until 4:30 p.m. Participants will enjoy the brilliant colors of fall and the dramatic cliffs of Rose Ledges. They will also explore historic 19th-century stone quarries and look for signs of local wildlife. Hikers should bring lunch, water, dress in layers, wear sturdy footwear and be comfortable hiking over somewhat hilly terrain with an elevation gain of 800 feet . The program will be cancelled in the event of inclement weather. This free event is for ages 10 and older. Register by calling 800-859-2960.

∎  Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood Educators: Growing Up Wild and Project Learning Tree. Growing Up WILD and Project Learning Tree’s Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood build on children’s sense of wonder about nature and invite them to explore the natural world around them. Through a wide range of activities and experiences, these new curriculums provide an early foundation for developing positive impressions about the natural world and lifelong social and academic skills. On Saturday, Oct. 26, from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., educators of children ages 3 to 7 will receive both multi-award winning curriculum guides for educators of young children. The activity guides feature over 150 experiences that engage children in outdoor play and exploration. Join instructorsPatti Steinman, education coordinator, Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries and Kim Noyes, Northfield Mountain’s education coordinator, for a fun-filled day of interactive, hands-on, activities. Gain experience and skills helpful for taking children outside to explore the natural world. This professional development workshop is for teachers, camp counselors, child care providers, home school parents and other educators. Both curriculums are correlated to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Standards and the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework. Co-sponsored with Massachusetts Audubon. The fee is $40 and includes two activity guides. Workshop will take place at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. Register online through Mass Audubon or call Arcadia at 413-584-3009 to register by phone.

∎  Halloween Celebration around the Campfire with Roger Tinknell. On Saturday, Oct. 26, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center’s 35+ year-old celebration of Halloween through songs, stories and dance will be hosted by Roger Tincknell, a locally loved, two-time Parents’ Choice Award-winning recording artist with numerous CDs for children and adults. Imagine a group of young witches, fairies and aliens in the glow of the firelight, spellbound by a slightly spooky story — or waltzing around in small family groups to Tincknell’s beautiful music, and you can get some sense of the delight this evening brings. Wholesome snacks also served. Dress WARMLY, bring blankets to cuddle up with, chairs for seating and flashlights. Program meets behind Visitor Center. In case of poor weather, the program will be held inside the cozy yurt. This is a free family event and is appropriate for all ages. Register by calling 1-800-859-2960.

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