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December 5, 2017 > Park It

Park It

By Ned MacKay

A seasonal natural history show is now playing at Redwood Regional Park in Oakland and other Bay Area venues. ItÕs the annual overwintering of ladybugs, more formally known as ladybird beetles.

The ladybugs cluster by the thousands on logs, fence posts and shrubs at Redwood. There are some at the Big Bend picnic area and along other park paths, but the main event seems to be around the junction of the Prince and Stream Trails. Look as much as you like, but please donÕt collect. ItÕs illegal to remove any plants or animals from the regional parks.

Ladybugs are generally considered beneficial insects because their diet includes aphids, which are the bane of gardeners. The little red beetles cluster together in the cold of winter, then disperse with the arrival of warmer spring weather.

Naturalist Michael Charnofsky will lead a three-mile hike at Redwood from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Dec. 10, to see the ladybug convention. Meet Michael at the Canyon Meadows staging area. To get there, drive about two miles down Redwood Road from the intersection with Skyline Boulevard in Oakland. Look for the park entrance on the left, and drive in, all the way to the end of the road. For information, call (510) 544-3187.


Of course, the other well-known insect overwintering phenomenon is the monarch butterfly gathering in the eucalyptus groves at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont.

Ardenwood has scheduled a special monarch butterfly program for kids ages three through six. ItÕs from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 9 and repeats on Dec. 23.

First thereÕs an interactive puppet show about monarch eggs, caterpillars, chrysalides and butterflies. Then thereÕs a short walk to the grove to see the adult insects. Meet at the parkÕs Granary. Ardenwood is at 34600 Ardenwood Boulevard, just north of Highway 84. For fee and program information, call (510) 544-2797. Parking is free.


Animals spend the winter months in a variety of ways, ranging from hibernation to migration. Naturalist Morgan Dill will talk about the wintertime habits of birds, bears, turtles and other creatures in a program from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9 at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda.

Sharks are the focus of Family Nature Fun Hour from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9 and 10 at Crab Cove. Fun hour explores a different nature topic at the same time each weekend. Crab Cove is at 1252 McKay Ave. off AlamedaÕs Central Avenue. Call (510) 544-3187.


At Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley, naturalist ÒTrail GailÓ Broesder will lead an acorn ornament craft session from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10. SheÕll show how to make a felt acorn using wool from the Little Farm sheep.

GailÕs program will be at the Environmental Education Center, which is at the north end of TildenÕs Central Park Drive. Call (510) 544-2233.


A couple of interesting programs are on the calendar at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley, both on Sunday, Dec. 10.

From 2 to 3 p.m. itÕs Arachnid Adventure time, a chance to learn about spiders, with lots of fun activities.

Then from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. thereÕs an Almost Winter Campfire (according to the calendar, Dec. 21 is the first day of winter). Night comes early this time of year, so the naturalists will highlight the wonders of the galaxy with activities, a campfire, and sÕmores.


There are lots of other activities planned during the coming weeks in the East Bay Regional Parks. For full information, visit the website,

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