I have not been posting here since last July, but have continued to photograph, although not as often as I used to. Hopefully, the following photos may help reduce stress for all of us during this coronavirus pandemic.
When Harlequin Ducks preen and groom themselves, they go through deliberate contortions which create peculiar sights. I thought of sailboats when I saw this duck.
Moving slightly to the left, he can be seen working diligently behind his wing.
Other Harlequins were even more vigorous.
Mostly they were peaceful and just swam around, diving occasionally for food. When that happens you may be looking at Harlequins one moment, and a second later there would be nothing but water.
Female Harlequins are not as colorful as their male counterparts, appearing mostly brown, with some white patches.
In a few weeks they will be going back way up North, closing this chapter on Harlequin sightings during the 2015-2016 winter season at the Barnegat Lighthouse.
The waves around the jetty at Barnegat Lighthouse in New Jersey are the favorite winter playground for Harlequin Ducks that come down from Greenland and Iceland. With their unique coloring and markings these ducks stand out from all ducks and photographers don’t walk but run toward them as soon as somebody points out their location.
Last Sunday was my lucky day. There were many Harlequins in several places along the jetty, the sun was shining brightly over everything, and I was able to get some really close shots of these ducks.
Yesterday, despite high tide at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park I was able to come close enough to a band of Harlequin ducks to take the following series of photos. These ducks love fast moving water and dive in it with abandon to find food like small fish and crustaceans.
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.
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.
This morning I went back to the Barnegat Lighthouse jetty to try and photograph the Harlequin ducks that are known for showing up there at this time of the year. After about an hour of fruitless searching, I was on my way back when I spotted a female Harlequin duck swimming in the fast moving water that these ducks seem to like. She was by herself, with no male suitors in sight.
A little bit later, she jumped ashore and posed for me! As with most birds or ducks, a female Harlequin duck is somewhat dull compared to her male counterpart, but the unmistakable signs are the white circle behind the ears and white patches on her face. For photos of the more colorful male Harlequin ducks, please visit my post last year.