Trail Mix: outdoor activities in our area

CONWAY — Earthwork Programs will host its first Wilderness Extravaganza: A Weekend of Wilderness Skills Workshops on Saturday, Sept. 28 and Sunday, Sept. 29. These Workshops are for adults, both beginners and experienced. Registration is required and space is limited.

∎ Saturday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., The Art of Navigation $35 prepaid; $45 paid day of.

1 to 4 p.m., Wild Edibles $40 prepaid; $50 paid day of

6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Night Navigation & Storytelling $35 prepaid; $45 paid day of

∎ Sunday, Sept. 29

9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Seeing through the Eyes of Animals (tracking) $35 prepaid; $45 paid day of

1 to 4 p.m. Trapping, the Sacred Harvest $35 prepaid; $45 paid day of

Register online at 413-340-1161.

Hawks at Mount Tom, Sunday, Sept. 22, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mt. Tom State Reservation, Holyoke. Witness the majesty of these birds during peak migrating season. Examine birds of prey up close at ”Eyes on Owls,” 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and during Tom Ricardi’s Live Birds of Prey at noon. Please bring lawn chairs. See raptors on the move at hawk watch stations at Goat Peak and at Bray Tower. Ongoing activities include WOW Express exhibits and interactive displays of the plants, animals, and land in the Connecticut River Watershed; Family-friendly activities and crafts. For adults and children. There’s more information at Free with a $2 vehicle entrance fee. Activities take place near the Visitor Center. Park entrance at 125 Reservation Road (off of Route 5) in Holyoke.

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

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 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. 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. 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 No.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. Register by calling 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. Register by calling 1-800-859-2960.

∎  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.

∎  Skulls and Bones. The Halloween skeletons are hanging around; and this program is an opportunity to check out the real thing! What stories can bones and skulls tell us about an animal’s life? On Saturday, Oct. 19, from 2 to 4 p.m., Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center naturalist Beth Bazler will help families compare bones and skulls to see how birds differ from mammals and predators from prey. Much of the time will be spent doing hands-on activities indoors, with a short field walk. Will you be brave enough to try all the mystery bone building snacks and discover which of your favorite foods are best for bones? This free family event is for ages 7 and older. Please register by calling 1-800-859-2960.

∎  Moon Rise over the Mountain. On Saturday, Oct. 19, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., join Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center staff and enjoy a leisurely fall foliage hike to the top of Northfield Mountain where we’ll enjoy the sun setting and the moon rising. Only one night past full, October’s “Hunting Moon” should be a treat to watch as it rises over our mountain-top reservoir. Bring a snack or picnic supper for dining at the summit. The down-hill walk will be on a quiet, paved road, lit by moonlight (weather permitting!) Participants should dress in layers, bring a flashlight or headlamp, water and food. Hike participants should be in moderate condition and able to hike 4½ miles with an elevation gain of 800 feet. This free event is for ages 10 and older. Register by calling 1-800-859-2960.

∎  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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