Programs across the county invite children to get outoors and explore the woods, fields, ponds and skies this weekend -- and the life stirring in them.
Programs across the county invite children to get outoors and explore the woods, fields, ponds and skies this weekend -- and the life stirring in them. (Eagle file)

Bartholomew's Cobble

One of the enduring wonders of springtime is the emergence of temporary bodies of water known as vernal pools. These fleeting habitats are the breeding grounds for teeming masses of amphibious wildlife which inhabit these safe, wet havens away from predatory fish.

On Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, Trustees of Reservations Conservation Ranger Rene Wendell will lead an exploration of a large vernal pool at Bartholomew's Cobble in Sheffield to find all manner of egg masses, creatures and their progeny including wood frogs, fingernail clams and salamanders.

The tiny crustaceans known as fairy shrimp are typically elusive intermittent spring residents, dependent on exacting conditions to make an appearance. Once the water dries up completely, the fairy shrimp eggs wait until the pond re-emerges the following spring before hatching and breeding in a brief but busy one month-long life span. Thanks to last year's dry summer, they are reported to be in abundance this year at Cobble vernal pools.

The cost is $6 per person, up to $15 family maximum. Be sure to dress ready to get wet and muddy. Registration and information: rwendell@ttor.org, (413) 229-8600 or the trustees.org.

Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

There's a busy week ahead at the Mass Audubon oasis in Lenox, Pleasant Valley, with programs about both mammals and amphibians on the agenda. On Saturday from 1:30 to 3 p.m., sanctuary director Rene Laubach will lead a workshop to make a wooden house for bats, one of his favorite flying creatures.

When mosquitoes zoom in to interfere with backyard gatherings, having a hungry resident bat on the property helps to clear the air. Building and caring for a home for these flying mammals can keep them close at hand, where families can watch them at work.

The program, which includes an informational slide show about local bats, is appropriate for adults and children aged 5 and above and costs $20 per bat house. Bring a carpenter's hammer to aid in construction.

On Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m., join education coordinator Gayle Tardif-Raser on a sunset salamander search in the sanctuary woodlands and learn about the lifestyles of these interesting amphibians. When the temperature cools down in the evening, salamanders leave their shaded daytime shelters under logs and rocks to venture out into the undergrowth and go about their nightly business.

Kids aged 3 and over accompanied by an adult are welcome, and the cost is $10 for adults and $8 for children, up to $25 family maximum. Wear long sleeves, long pants and boots. Registration and information: (413) 637-0320, www.massaudubon.org.

What does a bat hear when a mosquito flies by? The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield also takes a look at bats in an exhibit on display through May 12 at 39 south St.

On Saturday at 11 a.m., learn more about navigation, echolocation and extinction threats in a hands-on gallery program, "Bats: Out of the Cave and into the Night," included in regular museum admission of $13 for adults and $6 for children. Information: www.berkshiremuseum.org (413) 443-7171.

Berkshire Museum

In recent years, the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield has become a center of live animal activity, with up-close presentations from Arctic wolves to Australian kangaroos.

On Tuesday, at 1 p.m., the W.I.L.D. Center & Zoological Park of New England will introduce a collection of creatures in their care at their New Hampshire headquarters -- the pointy-snouted ring-tailed red coatimundi, the sweet-faced, spiny prehensile-tailed porcupine and the fuzzy Goliath bird-eating tarantula.

The giant Flemish rabbit weighs at least 14 pounds and may reach 20 or more, while the American Alligator and antipodean Australian Argus Monitor can reach 4 feet long or more.

And the Arctic fox ably demonstrates how nature's effective camouflage techniques add beauty as well as protection to wildlife species from colder climes. Tickets are available in advance and cost $15 for adults and $8 for children (ages 3 and under are free) and include museum admission. Information: www.berkshiremuseum.org (413) 443-7171.