I've mentioned it before, but in view of the recent hot and dry weather, it's worth repeating -- take plenty of water with you when you hike in the regional parks and other open spaces.

Several times in recent days I have encountered hikers who either didn't have any water with them or didn't take enough.

Even for a hike of only a couple of miles, at least a liter of water per person is the minimal amount. Remember that once you get away from the trailheads and picnic areas, there aren't any drinking fountains.

And you have to keep hydrated. The search-and-rescue folks all say that the time to drink is before you feel thirsty.

Otherwise, heat exhaustion can sneak up on you. Don't forget your canine companions, either. Dogs need a lot of water on hot days.

They wear permanent fur coats and cool off mainly by panting. So if your dog is panting rapidly, he needs some shade and a drink.

TILDEN: Signs of land-based and aquatic life will be sought during two programs Sunday at Tilden Nature Area next to Berkeley, both led by naturalist Anthony Fisher.

The first is animal tracking from 8:30 to 11 a.m. The group will hit the dusty trails to look for evidence of the animals that also travel on them. Then from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Anthony will lead a safari in search of life at Tilden's ponds. Both programs are free and start at the Environmental Education Center at the end of Tilden's Central Park Drive. For information, call 510-544-2233.


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Alameda: Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda is hosting a series of programs to search for low-tide animal life. The next one is from 8 to 10 a.m. Sunday. The group will look for crabs, mussels, barnacles, worms and shrimp some of which may provide breakfast for foraging shorebirds.

Also at Crab Cove, Family Nature Fun Time is from 2 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the theme, "It's a Sailor's Life for Me." Crab Cove is located at 1252 McKay Ave. off Central Avenue. For information, call 510-544-3187.

Richmond: Bird-watchers of all abilities will enjoy a bird walk from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday along the San Francisco Bay Trail in Richmond, led by naturalist Trent Pearce. The group will meet at Shimada Friendship Park. For information, call 510-544-2233.

As long as we're on the subject of birds, naturalist Mike Moran will continue his raptor census research with a hike from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Morgan Territory Regional Preserve east of Mount Diablo.

No experience is necessary. Mike will show participants how to identify the falcons, hawks and eagles, then help him count their numbers. The hike is free of charge, but registration is required. For registration and information, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program 6338.

Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at nedmackay@comcast.net.