Happy Harlequin Hunting: Only Shooting with a Camera!

For the past month, I’ve been seeing nothing but posts about all the Harlequin Ducks flocking down the coast of Massachusetts from Plum Island to Westhaven.  Never having seen one, I was eager to make a sighting.  Three trips to the coastal waters, and I was still a Harlequin virgin.  That is until Yang and I visited Sachuest (don’t ask me to pronounce it) in Rhode Island.  Of course, my prayers for a sighting weren’t answered at once.

We went down to a cove and saw two huge flocks of Buffleheads bobbing and diving in the waves.  They are adorable with their big white spots on the sides of their heads that look like ear muffs.  But no Harleys!  Then, coming back to the parking lot, to start the trail leading around the other side of the point, we saw four deer grazing nonchalantly in the marsh field.  Beautiful in their heavy winter coats – but not ducks.

 

We later even found a family of Eider Ducks, one adult male, one juvenile male and two females – joined by a Bufflehead, who popped up out of nowhere – but no Harlequins.

So, we made our way down onto a rocky beach after we spied some Lesser Scaups ( a first sighting, ever!),  some Surf Scoters, and a female Redbreasted Merganser, but no …wait!  What’s that black and white thing bobbing and diving out there? 

See the tiny white and black thing in the middle of the screen?  It was clearer and bigger with the binoculars.  I said to Yang, “It’s, wait , I think it’s, yes!  It’s a male Harlequin.”  Now before you say, “Hey, I can’t see a darned thing, wait, big deal,” it gets better.  After watching this guy and some Redbreasted Mergansers for a while, we moved on  – and came across another Harlequin chilling with some Scaups.  A little later, we came across a lone pair of Harlequins.  These shots are better, but not our top prizes.  I just love this one of the male flapping at us.  Camera shy or a show off?  You judge.

 

 

 

 

It’s really interesting to me that when the males look at you head on, with the light colored beak and the white stripe on their face, they appear more white-faced than they actually are.  When we got to another spot, Yang got some gorgeous shots that show off all their glorious markings. So, here you go with a set of photos of another  Harley pair from much closer up.

Here’s the male by himself.  Take a gander at that gorgeous splash of chestnut on his side, the way the white stripes demarcate the patches of black, and look carefully for that line of chestnut down the back of his head.

 

 

 

Here is the pair together.    Sometimes they point those short but sharp tails upward. Notice how the female has those lovely three white spots on the side of her head.  

 

 

I think they must have had an argument.  Yang and I noticed that the female did most of the diving/hunting.  Maybe she got sick of her hubbie posing for the papparazzi when she was doing all the work. Anyway, they briefly went separate ways.

Well, deers, er, dears, that’s all for now.

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