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“Audubon at Home” program presentation, Mar. 21st

Jammes House
Mason Neck State Park
Saturday, March 21, 2020
2 pm

The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and Plant Nova Natives will present “Creating a Wildlife Sanctuary on Your Property: The Audubon at Home Program” at 2 PM on March 21. The program will explain the importance of native plants to restoring and maintaining a balanced ecosystem and give guidance on how to do it.

The program is free and is open to everyone. The Friends of Mason Neck State Park, which is hosting the program, will provide light refreshments. Registration for the program will open on February 15. Space will be limited, so be sure to register as soon as you can.

See Tundra Swans, Jan. 1st

Mason Neck State Park
7301 High Point Rd., Lorton, VA 22079
Great Marsh Trail Parking Lot
Wednesday, 1 January 2020
12:15 pm

Have you ever seen Tundra Swans, those amazing birds that migrate thousands of miles from the Arctic to spend the winter in our region? Their haunting calls are nearly impossible to forget!
You’ve got a great opportunity to see the Tundra Swans when the Friends of Mason Neck State Park will lead a guided walk to see them. They’ll start from the Great Marsh Trail parking lot, on the left side of High Point Road a short distance BEFORE you get to the Park’s Contact Station. They’ll walk about a mile over fairly level ground to the viewing area. You’ll likely hear the birds before you see them. They’ll have binoculars and telescopes so you can view the swans and other water birds and they’ll also help you identify them.
There’s no charge for this event, which is open to everyone. Come out and enjoy the first day of 2020 with the Friends! The trails can be a little muddy, so be sure to wear good shoes or boots.
Mason Neck State Park is also offering guided First Day Hikes in the park on January 1. You can see their schedule of hikes at Mason Neck State Park First Day Hikes.

Have you ever seen a dragon fly? Learn more Dec. 8th

Jammes House
Mason Neck State Park
Sunday, 8 December 2019
2 pm

Join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park for their annual holiday event and listen to a fascinating program presented by naturalist and author Bob Blakney. Bob is author of the field guide “Northern Virginia Dragonflies and Damselflies.” He has participated in regular surveys of the Mason Neck area for the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia for more than 12 years. Bob will present photographs he has taken of dragonflies and damselflies in the region and talk about these fascinating creatures that inhabit our local ponds and streams.

Did you know that:
Dragonflies have been around for about 300 million years.
Fossil dragonflies have been found with two-foot wingspans.
Dragonflies can fly straight up and down, backwards and hover like a helicopter.
Dragonflies are among the most efficient predators on Earth.

The Holiday Party is open to members of the Friends of Mason Neck State Park. Each member may register one guest. The program fee is $15 per person, which includes admission to the park.
You can register at Holiday Event Registration.
Not a member? Has your membership expired? You can join or renew your membership for as little as $20 per year for up to two people at Join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park.
Be sure to register soon. Space is limited and this event always sells out!

Raptor Education and Photo Encounter, Oct. 19th

Mason Neck State Park Picnic Area

Red-tailed hawk

7301 High Point Rd, Lorton, VA 22079

Saturday, 19 October 2019
Two sessions: 10am or 1pm
$65 for either of the two 90-minute sessions

Would you like the opportunity to photograph magnificent raptors from just 10 feet away? Imagine being close to owls and hawks with your camera in a natural outdoor setting.

The Friends of Mason Neck State Park and Secret Garden Birds and Bees are offering a unique opportunity to get up close to some beautiful birds. Participants will be able to photograph raptors up close. At least four raptors, including a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Red-Tailed Hawk, an Eastern Screech Owl and a Barred Owl, will pose for you on a natural looking perch. You’ll hear from Secret Garden Birds and Bees staff about each one of them, making this a learning experience as well.

This is a fundraising event that will help the Friends continue to present programs and work on projects in support of the Park. $40 of each registration fee is tax deductible to the extent permissible by law.

Space is limited to 20 participants per session, so don’t wait to register! Register at  Raptor Photo Session.

Friends of Mason Neck Owl Moon Meeting, Sep. 14th

Mason Neck State Park Visitor Center
7301 High Point Rd, Lorton, VA 22079
Saturday, 14 September 2019
7 – 9 pm

Imagine sitting outside in the Park as the evening skies grow dim.  The sounds of the night erupt as the park’s wildlife begins its nocturnal prowl.  You might hear the call of a coyote or the hoot of a majestic owl as it flies to defend its territory.

Join Friends of Mason Neck State Park under the tent for a very special program – “A Year in the Life of an Owl”.  Featuring a Barred Owl, a Great Horned Owl, and an Eastern Screech Owl, and presented by the raptor rehabilitators and educators of Secret Garden Birds and Bees, this is a ‘must see’ presentation.

What makes this so special?  In addition to being interesting and educational, you will have the rare opportunity to view and these magnificent raptors up close as the rehabilitator walks through the tent and literally brings the birds to you!

Learn what great horned owls, barred owls, barn owls, and eastern screech owls are doing from January through December. Follow them through courtship, nesting, raising young, fledging and finally dispersal of the young to their own territories.

This event is open to the general public.  Registration is only $10 per person, which will help to offset the cost of the program.  Entrance to the park is free (no parking fee) after 6:30 pm.  You can register at Owl Moon Registration.

Volunteers Needed to Help with the May 11 Eagle Festival!

The Mason Neck State Park Eagle Festival on Saturday, May 11 is the Park’s biggest event of the year. More than 20 environmentally-oriented organizations will showcase interactive exhibits. We’ll have a full day of programs, including shows on reptiles and raptors, live music, pony rides, a tent for children’s activities and more. Last year more than 4000 people attended this great event. The Friends of Mason Neck State Park covers all the expenses for the Festival, as well as providing the volunteers that help to make the event go smoothly. Would you like to help us out? Send an email to Volunteer for Eagle Festival and we’ll find you a job that you’ll enjoy.

New Years Day Hikes at Mason Neck State Park

Meet at the Woodmarsh Trail parking lot, which is on the left side of High Point Road about a quarter mile BEFORE the Mason Neck State Park Contact Station
1 January 2019
2 pm

Join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park for a walk to the see the Tundra Swans! This hike is open to everyone.

Each year, the Mason Neck area is host to one of Northern Virginia’s largest concentrations of Tundra Swans. Depending on the day, you may see as many as 400 swans and hear their haunting calls. You may also see other waterfowl, including Northern Pintails, Mergansers, Shovelers, Coots, Black Ducks and Mallards — and who knows what else? Bring your binoculars if you have them. If not, the group will have binoculars and telescopes for people to share. The tide will be high when they get there, which will maximize the likelihood that the birds will be close.

It is about a 1-mile walk on level ground to the bird blind at the marsh. Please wear sturdy shoes because it may be a little muddy.

There is no charge for the hike, no registration, and no need to pay the State Park entrance fee. NOTE: Due to the partial Federal Government shutdown, the rest rooms at the Woodmarsh Trail are closed. You can use the restrooms at Mason Neck State Park picnic area or Visitor Center before or after the hike. Admission to the Park is free on New Years Day.

Please note: if it is unusually cold and the marsh is frozen, the hike will be postponed and the group will announce the postponement on their website.

The Park is also offering First Day Hikes.  There’s an easy-paced 3.5 mile hike at 10 AM; a fast-paced 5.5 mile hike at 11 AM; and a leisurely 1-mile hike at 3 PM.  You can get more details on the hikes at Mason Neck State Park First Day Hikes.  And you can learn about the Virginia Department of Recreation’s Photo Contest and New Year Challenge at First Day Contests.

Learn what birds eat, December 2nd

Jammes House, Mason Neck State Park
Sunday, 2 December 2018
2-4 pm

Registration is now open for Swanfall 2018, the Friends of Mason Neck State Park‘s annual holiday party.  They will meet at 2 PM on December 2, 2018 at the Jammes House in Mason Neck State Park.  The Jammes House is a former hunting lodge in Mason Neck State Park, located on the banks of Occoquan Bay.  It will be decorated for the holidays, and has stunning views over the Bay and the Potomac River. The Jammes House is not normally open to visitors, so take advantage of this opportunity to see the house and experience its magnificent setting.  They’ll have lots of tasty treats for you to sample at a light buffet.

After you enjoy the buffet, take a fascinating look into the lives of  birds as you watch Ashley Kennedy’s stunning videos of birds bringing food to their young in her program “What Birds Eat.”  Ashley is a PhD candidate at the University of Delaware’s Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology.  Ashley’s research focuses on determining which insects are the most important in birds’ diets.  Learn what you can do in your own backyard to attract the insects that are vital to a healthy bird population.

Swanfall 2018 is open only to members of the Friends of Mason Neck State Park.  If you aren’t currently a member, you can join the Friends for as little as $20 per year at Join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park.  Once you join, you will be able to register for Swanfall at Swanfall 2018.  Each member can bring one guest.  The cost of the program is $10 per person and includes admission to the Park.

Please register soon.  This event always fills up, and you won’t want to miss this great event!

Owl Moon program, September 22nd, registration open now

Gunston Hall Visitor Center

10709 Gunston Road, Lorton VA 22079

Saturday, 22 September 2018

7 pm

Friends of Mason Neck State Park present their annual Owl Moon event.  Secret Garden Birds and Bees will present a program on Winter Owls.  You’ll learn about the short-eared owls, long-eared owls, saw-whet owls and snowy owls that make the Virginia, Maryland and DC area their homes for the winter.  The stars of the show will be several rescue owls that live here year-round, which you can photograph and view up close.

Owl Moon is open to members of the Friends of Mason Neck State Park and their families, and registration is required.  Members can register at Register for Owl Moon.  There will be a short annual meeting and refreshments will be served.  If you aren’t a member, you can join for as little as $20 for a full year, and bring up to 4 other family members to Owl Moon as well as other Friends events.  You can become a member at Join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park and then register for the event.

Will mice be served as refreshments?