VA BIRDers, Chip Johnston and I motored out to Mason Neck early this morning for a canoe visit into the Great Marsh. Kudos to Scott Baron who also came up with the idea to visit the Great Marsh of Mason Neck. Some of his great birds we also noted - and added a few others, too! Chip (who helps run the sailing school at the Belle Haven/Dyke Marsh marina and a an outstanding sailor) and I left the BH dock at about 0615 heading south to Mason Neck via the Potomac River. We encountered the typical 4 gulls and 2 terns on our first leg along with 4 Bald Eagles flying over the river before dawn between Mt Vernon and Ft Belvoir. We also passed about a dozen Osprey that were flying about except for old number "73" sitting out the sunrise on green marker #73 about half way between Mt Vernon and Colonial Farm, MD. We anchored off the mouth of the Great Marsh, lowered the canoe and paddled in. The tide was high upon our entrance into the marsh,. There are 3 creek arms coming out of the Great Marsh (which helps explain its extent) and we explored 2 of those arms. I am unsure of the area but estimate the marsh occupies ca. 300 acres? (I promise to find out the actual number.) Major marsh plants were cattails (maybe narrow leaf?), spadderdock, wild rice and phragmites - the latter accounting for about 5% of the area and suggests a looming problem. Lots of other plants mixed in, the best I can manage in trms of ID is Rose Mallow and a few Willow Trees. The mouth of the marsh had a good SAV mat (submerged aquatic vegetation - used to be called hydrilla) which was being used by about 7 Lesser Yellowlegs. Not too many mosquitos, but there were some smaller bugs which were annoying at times in shallow water. As we entered, several species of swallow coursed the air over our heads. In our travels up the arms we quickly noted a Snowy Egret mixed in with a few Great Egrets. Several Great Blue Herons were about as well as Green Herons. As we paddled in, we flushed a few groups of Mallards and noted a few Wood Ducks and 3 Blue-winged Teal were mixed in. As we pushed further into the marsh, larger groups of Wood Ducks and Blue-winged Teal would take flight, with a few Green Heron mixed in. We noted 4 Bald Eagles over and near the marsh, including one rather large HY bird which hung out on a old snag tree on the forest line close to the nest site - undoubtably waiting for ma and da to bring brunch! Several good sized groups of Red-winged Blackbirds were noted as well as two Bobolinks calling from somewhere out of sight in the air. Near our furthest penetration of the marsh we heard a King Rail close to the shoreline. This is the area where the largest flocks of Blue-winged Teal were noted. On our return back to our "shuttle craft" we encountered a Northern Harrier foraging over the marsh. Cannot say if it was young or old, but it was a magnificent vision flying just over the vegetation tops, occasionally hidden from our sight. A fine August sighting! Here is a list summarizing the species we observed. Kurt Gaskill DC Cormorant 1 Great Blue Heron 4 Great Egret 6 Snowy Egret 1 Green Heron 5 Canada Goose 125 Wood Duck 22 Mallard 26 Blue-winged Teal 30 Osprey 4 Bald Eagle 4: 2 ad, 1 HY, 1 2nd yr No. Harrier 1 Red-shouldered Hawk 1 King Rail 1 Greater Yellowlegs 1 Lesser Yellowelegs 7 C. Swift 6 RT Hummingbird 4 No. Flicker 1 Pileated WP 1 EW Pewee 3 E. Kingbird 3 crow sp. 6 (also some distant American Crows) Purple Martin 6 Tree Swallow 8 No. Rough-winged Sw 14 Bank Swallow 1 Barn Sw 6 Com. Yellowthroat 2 Song Sp 2 Bobolink 2 Red-winged Blackbird ca. 250 Am. Goldfinch 10 You are subscribed to VA-BIRD. To post to this mailing list, simply send email to va-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx To unsubscribe, send email to va-bird-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field.