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Harlequin ducks with their distinctive facial markings and colors are fairly uncommon and have a cult like following among birders and photographers. These ducks like swift currents near rocky shores where they can dive for food.

Yesterday at the Barnegat Light jetty, the current was swift. Two members of the Bergen County Audubon Society in New Jersey pointed me to a place on the jetty where they had seen a Harlequin duck. Following their advice I was able to photograph a Harlequin from much closer than in previous years.

Harlequin duck.

Harlequin duck.

This male Harlequin dove at least half a dozen times in front of me. See glass like beads of water on its back each time it came up for air.

This male Harlequin dove at least half a dozen times in front of me. Note glass like beads of water on its back each time it came up for air.

Harlequin duck, see from the back.

Harlequin duck, see from the back.

Harlequin duck last look before it flew away.

Harlequin duck last look before it flew away.

There were several other Harlequins in the area, but out of my camera range. In previous years, these ducks don’t start appearing until mid to late December, so they are early this year.

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