The March field trip will be March 24, going to Huntley Meadows Park, Mason Neck State Park, and/or the Elizabeth Hartwell National Wildlife Refuge. You can go to one or more of the locations – we plan to meet up for lunch (and possible libations) early in the afternoon.
Huntley Meadows combines a wooded and marsh area for spectacular opportunities for nature and wildlife photography. The visitor center is located at 3701 Lockheed Blvd., Alexandria, just off Route 1; restrooms are here. From the visitor center, a path leads through the woods to a boardwalk over the wetlands. There is also a parking lot at 6901 South Kings Highway that allows access to the wetlands viewing area.
Further south on Route 1, Mason Neck offers the chance to see and photograph several bald eagle nests (it’s listed as the second-best place to spot eagles in Virginia), as well as other inhabitants of the wetlands and bay that define Mason Neck. The visitor center and park are located at 7301 High Point Road in Lorton, off Gunston Road. There is a $5 admission fee ($7 for nonresidents) on weekends. (If you decide to purchase an annual pass at the visitor center, the daily admission is refunded.)
Adjacent to Mason Neck State Park, the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge has the largest freshwater marsh in northern Virginia. It was the first National Wildlife Refuge established specifically for the protection of bald eagles, and is a major breeding ground for great blue herons. The Refuge’s parking area is on High Point Road in Lorton. (You’ll pass it on your left going to the State Park entrance.)
As noted, you can do one or more locations. Specifics (time and location) about gathering will be announced at the meeting before the trip when there’s a better sense of the weather, and your interest in the three sites. We’re tentatively planning to meet afterward at Fair Winds Brewing Company in Lorton (near Springfield Mall), depending on what food truck or trucks will be there. Sign-ups will begin at the February 27 club meeting.