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Natural Science

WEB-EXCLUSIVE: Orange County's nature parks are full of scientific wonders.

Some might say the draw of Orange County is its lavish lifestyle and sunny beaches. Often little attention is garnered by its abundant natural parks. But many Orange County parks feature educational walks and seminars dedicated to teaching the public about the science behind the natural world. Take a walk on the wild side and learn about the animals and greenery - and even a thing or two about stars - in Orange County's backyard. Be sure to bring the kids.

Nature Talk
Where: Caspers Wilderness Park
When: August 3, 10-11 a.m.
Ages: 8 and up
As part of Caspers Park Foundation's monthly meetings, guest speaker Rick Boufford discusses ravens. Free. E-mail: caspersparkfoundation@gmail.com

Snake Talk
Where: Riley Wilderness Park
When: August 3, 3-4 p.m.
Want to know more about the snakes that live in Orange County? Join one of the park rangers as she talks about how to tell the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes, and meet Rosita, the park’s rosy boa. Free. Call: 949.923.2265

Bird Walk
Where: Caspers Wilderness Park
When: August 7, 8-11 a.m.
Caspers is home to an abundant number of native species of birds and mammals. Learn about these local animals from Naturalist Diane Etchison. Don't forget sun protection, binoculars and water. Rain will cancel the event. Free. Call: 949.923.2210

Bat Walk
Where: The Richard & Donna O'Neill Conservancy
When: August 12, 6:45-8:45 p.m.
Ages: 10 and up
Join bat biologist Stephanie Remington in an evening hike around the Conservancy. Learn about native bats and their living habits in suburban and rural areas. Participants will have the chance to use “bat detectors,” which convert the ultrasonic bat sounds into frequencies humans can hear. Admission, $15. :: rmvreserve.org

Coyote Nature Talks
When: August 14, 7-8:30 p.m.
Where: RMV Presentation Center
Ages: 8 and up
Join Rancho Mission Viejo Reserve and Reserve Executive Director Laura Coley Eisenberg for a workshop on Orange County coyotes and how to coexist with them. The workshop will educate on where they live, how to identify them and what to do if you encounter one. Free, but must RSVP. :: rmvreserve.org

Tarantula Walk and Backlighting for Insects
When: August 17, 7-9 p.m.
Where: The Richard & Donna O'Neill Conservancy
Ages: 8 and up
Go on a tarantula walk and be on the lookout for male tarantulas making their annual search for females. Workers will also use black lights to draw out nocturnal insects. Adults, $10; children, $5. RSVP required. :: rmvreserve.org

Birds and Butterflies Walk
Where: Riley Wilderness Park
When: September 4, 9-11 a.m.
Ages: 12 and up
Naturalist Mike Clayton takes participants on a bird and butterfly walk though the one-acre butterfly and native plant garden. Come prepared for an easy walk at a leisurely pace and bring binoculars, water, sun protection, and snacks. Free, but parking $3. Call: 949.923.2265

Astronomy Night
Where: The Richard & Donna O'Neill Conservancy
When: September 7, 7:45-9:45 p.m.
Ages: 8 and up
Get away from the light pollution in the city and experience stars the way they were meant to be seen. Learn about the different constellations from volunteer astronomers, who will have their telescopes and knowledge on hand to share with attendees. In the event of cloudy skies, a presentation will be available while waiting for the clouds to part. Adults, $10; children, $5. :: rmvreserve.org

Bird Walk
Where: Ladera - Horno Basin (Covenant Hills Gate)
When: September 8, 8-10 a.m.
Ages: 8 and up
The Horno Basin in Ladera Ranch is a great place to spot all kinds of birds due to the proximity of the water. Take a walk with Gary Meridith to learn about the basin and the variety of birds living in the area. Bring your binoculars. Adults, $10; children, $5. RSVP required. :: rmvreserve.org

If Dead Trees Could Talk Walk
Where: The Richard & Donna O'Neill Conservancy
When: September 21, 5-7:30 p.m.
Ages: 8 and up
Learn about the importance of dead trees and how they are sometimes more beneficial to wildlife dead than when they are alive. The walk will be led by Gillian Martin, the developer of a project called The Cavity Conservation Initiative. She will discuss how dead trees live on to become natural habitats for all types of organisms. Adults, $10; children, $5. RSVP required. :: rmvreserve.org

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