This weekend: Learn, learn, learn

To everything there is a season — and in this season of winter, the thing is making sense of the natural world. Learn your birds at the coast, your amphibians in the Piedmont, your naked trees in the mountains.

Coast

Tundra swans at Hammocks Beach State Park (photo courtesy N.C. State parks)

Tundra swans at Hammocks Beach State Park (photo courtesy N.C. State parks)

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird —
Yes, but what kind?
It’s a question that perplexes many of us when we spy an avian friend flying overhead. And it’s a question you can find answers to Saturday at 9 a.m. at Hammocks Beach State Park. There, a ranger will lead the group in identifying and counting birds as part of the annual Great Backyard Bird Count. It’s a massive exercise in citizen science, as people around the country report who’s flying in and out of their backyards. Binos and bird guides available, bring your own if you’ve got ‘em.

Logistics: Saturday, Feb. 14, 9 a.m., Hammocks Beach State Park, Swansboro. Free, 910.326.4881if you have questions.

Saturday forecast: Sunny, high of 51.

Piedmont

Cope's Gray Treefrog (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)

Cope's Gray Treefrog (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)

When most of us think of looking for signs of spring, we think about looking for those first wildflowers of the year — your trout lilies, your tootworts. But really, it’s the amphibians that are the true bellwethers of spring.

Come celebrate the Year of the Amphibian and learn who to look and listen for in the days ahead at Sunday’s Crafty Critters program at Umstead State Park in Raleigh. Targeted to 1st thru 6th graders, everyone welcome.

Logistics: Sunday, Feb. 15, 10:30 a.m., Umstead State Park, Raleigh. Free, but space is limited; call 919.571.4170 to score a spot.

Sunday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 30.

Mountains

Who am I? The not-so-exestential question posed by winter trees.

Who am I? The not-so-exestential question posed by winter trees.

Our look-and-learn theme continues, at Grandfather Mountain with a Winter Tree Identification Hike.

Anyone can identify an oak when it’s in full leaf; how about after winter has stripped most of our trees of their ID badges? That’s when we need a guidebook and a savvy ranger to help us distinguish a sweetgum from a sourwood, a sumac from a sassafras. What better place to identify trees than along the base of the Profile Trail on Grandfather’s west flank?

Logistics: Sunday, Feb. 15, 1 p.m., Grandfather Mountain State Park, Linville. 828.963.9522 to call and confirm if weather is an issue.

Sunday forecast: On the plus side, it will be sunny. It will also only get up to 16 degrees.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below.

CapeFearCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

NCCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).

Mountains

Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors
Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

The Mountain Times
From the main page, click on “Calendars,” then Main Events.

Todd’s Calendar

Piedmont

Charlotte

Charlotte Observer events calendar
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including Nature, Recreation, Recreation & Wellness, Running

Charlotte Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Triad

GoTriad.com
Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

Piedmont Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Triangle

Triangle.com
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including: Birding, Boating, Cycling, Nature, Rec & Wellness, Recreation, Running, Swimming, Tennis, Yoga.

Carolina Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Statewide

Great Outdoor Provision Co.
Calendar includes three weekly events for each of its seven markets: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Search by market.

Office of Environmental Education
One calendar for the numerous Environmental Education Centers statewide.

North Carolina State Parks
Lets you search for programs at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas by location, by month, by topic. To reach the calendar from the home page, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks.”

National Forests in North Carolina
From the home page, click on Carolina Connections for news updates on the state’s four national forests as well as hints on recreational opportunities and a detailed rundown of recreation areas and the amenities at each.

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges
Rundown, by month, of regular activities at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges in North Carolina.

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