The eagles are back! More precisely, a nesting pair of bald eagles has returned to Lake Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley, and it looks like they are raising two eaglets.
Golden eagles are fairly common in the East Bay, especially in the area of Altamont Pass. But nesting bald eagles are more rare around here. They're not bald -- the adults have distinctive white-feathered heads. The bald eagle, America's national bird, appears on the nation's seal.
The nest is located in a restricted area of the park. It's in a dense eucalyptus grove, hard to see but visible from across the lake through binoculars. From the West Shore Trail, look across the lake to trees on the peninsula between Half Moon Cove and Bass Cove. From the dam, you can see the adult bald eagles flying to and from the nest. Viewing may be even better from a boat on the lake.
"This is now a mature, 6-year-old female eagle, and she has successfully raised a chick here the last two years," said Doug Bell, the East Bay Regional Park District's wildlife program manager. "We ask that eagle-watchers stay on the trail or in their boats, so please observe our rules to protect the birds," he added. "Landing boats on shore or entering restricted areas of the park is not allowed." Trespassers are subject to citation.
Bald eagles have been seen in previous years flying over and around Lake Chabot, and in February 2012 they built a nest there for the first time. One juvenile bald eagle hatched in 2012, and a second one, raised in a different nest, fledged in 2013. If all goes well, the current pair will fledge in July. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not list bald eagles as endangered or threatened. However, they are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and are still listed as endangered in California.
The entrance to Lake Chabot is at 17600 Lake Chabot Road in Castro Valley. Parking costs $5 per vehicle. You can rent a boat with electric trolling motor at the marina. The fishing is generally good, too, for eagles and people, because the lake is stocked frequently with trout and catfish.
Sunol Regional: Healthy Hikes is a program of free activities for people of all ages. Two Healthy Hikes are scheduled Sunday at Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County. The first is an easy Senior Stroll from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Next is a Family Fun hike from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. with breaks for games.
Both hikes start at Sunol's Green Barn Visitor Center, and both begin with a talk about hiking's health benefits plus safety tips. Sunol Regional Wilderness is located on Geary Road off Calaveras Road, 5 miles south of Interstate 680. For information, call 510-544-3249.
LEONA CANYON: The Over-the-Hills Gang is an informal group of people ages 55 and older who enjoy nature lore and outdoor recreation. All seniors are welcome.
Led by naturalist "Trail" Gail Broesder, the gang will explore Leona Canyon in Oakland on a free hike from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. Meet at Campus Drive off Keller Avenue east of Interstate 580. There are no facilities at the trailhead except for parking. For information, call 510-544-2233.
TILDEN: The month of May will begin with a full schedule of events at Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley. First, there's a climb to the top of Wildcat Peak from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, led by Broesder. Views from the top are well worth the effort.
Then there's Tilden's Mayday Celebration from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Maypoles, bubbles, crafts, the Berkeley Morris Dancers and other diversions all will be part of the festivities. It's free of charge.
Later on Sunday, you can meet members of the Bay Area Nature Journal Club from 1 to 3:30 p.m. They will display their works in progress and help you to try live animal sketching. Light refreshments will be provided. All the activities, including the hike, meet at Tilden's Environmental Education Center. To get there, park at the end of Lone Oak Road off Tilden's Central Park Drive, then follow the signs. For information, call 510-544-2233.
Black Diamond: "Farewell to Spring" is the theme of a hike from 9:30 a.m. to noon Sunday at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch. It's a strenuous 3-mile hike best for ages 8 and older, led by naturalist aide Mickey Rovere. The group will search for the season's last wildflowers.
Meet at the uppermost parking lot on Somersville Road, 4 miles south of Highway 4 in Antioch. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.
Big Break: Kids will enjoy a program from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley. The naturalists will help them create temporary works of art with leaves, sticks and stones, all of which will complement the landscape and eventually blow away in the wind.
Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Main Street in Oakley. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.
Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at email@example.com.