Normally, my local pleasures are within a 10 mile radius, but I ventured outside that recently to go to Mason Neck, a great place for kayaking in warmer weather. There is a National Wildlife Refuge here as well as a state park.
We wanted to see whether there would be eagles hanging around the marsh area, so we took the great marsh trail to the overlook.
We did see two immature eagles that did not yet have their distinctive white head and tail feathers. We also saw a great assortment of ducks, geese, and in the farthest part of the marsh, tundra swans.
Once we had feasted our eyes on all this bird life and sparkling winter water, we moved from the wildlife refuge to the state park. We stopped in to the visitor center to confirm our swan sighting. Then we took what is called the bay view trail.
There we saw some duck blinds and what appeared to be a delegation of water fowl seeking a truce.
This trail was well marked with information on marshes and swamps, plant and animal life and—as you’ll know if you read Visiting and Foraging in Southern Virginia last September, one of my favorite wild fruits is the paw paw—a grove of paw paw trees was noted on our self tour. Of course, not much was identifiable about them in the winter, but I was able to regale my friend with my most recent paw paw feast. We headed back to the car, our appetites primed by the paw paw talk, to warm up with coffee and pumpkin muffins. No ticks, no chiggers, no deer flies…