Published April 18th, 2018
Red-legged frogs and friendly goats welcome visitors to Wagner Ranch Wildlife Festival
By Sora O'Doherty
Wildlife, like this parrot, will be on display at this year's festival. Photo provided
Once a year the historic ranch and 18-acre nature preserve at Wagner Ranch Nature Area in Orinda opens to the public for its wildlife festival, which this year occurs on Sunday, April 22. From 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. visitors can enjoy a variety of activities for all ages, especially kids. At the pond, visitors will be able to see red-legged frogs and the resident western pond turtle, known as Mr. T. Animals in the garden include friendly goats. There will be hands-on nature arts and crafts, and Earth Day games. A rare docent tour will take in the meadows, woodland, ponds and streams, and the historic home site of Theodore Wagner, California's first Surveyor General. Food and beverages will be available for purchase, or visitors may bring picnics to enjoy at the many available picnic tables. Several community organizations will also present earth-friendly endeavors.
Near the entrance, visitors can check out native plants and make donations. Children can pick up Wildlife Passports to get stamped at 10 stations for a free honey stick at the Friends of the Nature Area station. Tours will start from Tour Tree every hour, beginning at 12:30 p.m. with Reg Barrett and John Helms. From 1 to 3 p.m. there will be a Critter Hunt in the garden, and children kindergarten age and younger can take home toy critters. At 4:15 p.m. there will be a raffle drawing (raffle tickets will be available near the entrance and winners need not be present).
Central area activities will include: Chester Miner and the Native American Singers and Drummers, Lamorinda Weekly garden columnist and author Cynthia Brian, wildlife columnist Joan Morris, wildlife tattoos by Coyote Brush Studios, face painting by Orinda Juniorettes, booths featuring Sustainable Contra Costa, OIS Green Team hands-on activities, Orinda Historical Society, Friends of the Moraga Adobe, Old Yellow House - a net-zero historic home on Moraga Way - and live music performed by ALMA students. Visitors will also be able to check out solar oven cooking by Wendy Helms, nature fun presented by the East Bay Municipal Utility District, tile painting, nature art, pond explorations, frontier chemistry with Daniel Phillips, buzzing with honey bees by Steve Gentry, Friends of Orinda Creeks, Friends of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area and the Plein Air Artists. Massage by Derry Calay will also be available.
In the dining area there will be a food tent where visitors can purchase food tickets and exchange them for lunch items.
Wagner Ranch Nature Area is located at 350 Camino Pablo just beside Wagner Ranch Elementary School. Admission to the Wildlife Festival is free and all are welcome.

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