Friends of 
Mason Neck State Park

January 2019 Newsletter

30 Dec 2018 9:34 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

January 2019 Newsletter


START THE NEW YEAR OFF RIGHT WITH A HIKE IN THE PARK!

New Year's Day is a perfect time to get out and enjoy some time in Mason Neck State Park.  The weather will be spring-like and, for a change, no rain is predicted.  You can sleep in a little and get to the Park for a 10 AM hike on the Kane's Creek and Eagle Spur trails, with a length of 3.5 miles and still get home for a nice lunch.  Or you could atone for your New Year's Eve celebrations with an 11 AM fast-paced hike of 5.5 miles on a series of Park trails.  These two hikes start at the Visitors Center.  




The Friends of Mason Neck State Park are leading a hike to see the Tundra Swans at 2 PM.  This hike starts at the Woodmarsh Trail parking lot, which is on the right side of the road about  third of a mile before you reach the Park's Contact Station.  This hike is a 2-mile round trip on level ground.  Bring binoculars if you have them.  If not, we'll have some to share, and a telescope as well.  If we're lucky, we'll see as many as a couple of hundred swans, plus a number of other kinds of ducks that we only see in the winter.  Note:  the rest rooms at the Woodmarsh Trail are closed, so it's best to use the ones at the Park picnic grounds or Visitor Center.  




Finally, at 3 PM there's a leisurely stroll on the Park's Bayview Trail, where you can walk along the shoreline of Belmont Bay, see what's happening in a marsh and return through beautiful winter forest, all in just one mile.  This hike starts at the Visitors Center.  




Admission to the Park is free on New Year's Day.  Even better, you can enter for a chance to win prizes of up to $500 in a photo contest and a New Years Challenge sponsored by Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.  You can read the details at New Year's Contest.  


THE FRIENDS ENJOYED GOOD FOOD, GOOD COMPANY AND A GREAT SPEAKER AT SWANFALL 2018


The Friends of Mason Neck State Park's annual Swanfall holiday celebration at the Jammes house featured Ashley Kennedy, a PhD candidate at Delaware State University, who treated us to a very entertaining and informative presentation on What Birds Eat. 




Ashley, an entomologist, used her own observations and photos provided by citizen scientists from around the country to determine what types of insects various species of birds eat.  Ashley's great videos and photos kept the crowd engaged as she explained how native plants, which are favored by insects, help support the birds who rely on those insects to feed themselves and their young.




The Friends provided a wide variety of good things to eat, and Jammes House was a wonderful setting for the event. 






  

FOCUS ON THE PARK:

ANIMALS IN THE WINTER


Winter may seem like a slow time in Mason Neck State Park, but many of the Park's animals are already getting ready for spring.  Friends of Mason Neck State Park Board member Randy Streufert caught sight of a female raccoon fending off a too-friendly male, who was much more interested in starting a family than she was.  


 


Bald Eagles mate for life, but during the winter they spend increasing amounts of time together as they prepare to mate.  In Virginia, females lay their eggs in late winter to early spring. Here's Randy's stunning photo of a mated pair of Bald Eagles.


 


Red Foxes are also active in the winter.  They generally mate in January and the kits are born in March.  At night, you can sometimes hear the blood-curdling  Red Fox Scream of the vixen, or female, as it's looking for a mate. 


 


JOIN THE

FRIENDS OF MASON NECK STATE PARK

AND HELP SUPPORT THE PARK!

We would love to have you join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park!  Memberships fund the many Park activities we support each year.  And for as little as $20 per year, you will enjoy monthly newsletters, emails about special events and priority registration for special events such as our members-only Owl Moon in September, and Swanfall in December, and other activities during the year. You can sign up right here:  Join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park  


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