Harlequin Duck captured by Z 8 / Z600f4 @840mm

They were there last year. They were there the year before. They were this year and as soon as I saw them the trigger flipped in my mind. I am often asked if there are species I want to photograph that I hadn’t yet. The Harlequin Duck is one I have photographed but not very well (suckie actually) and not for a very long time. They are incredibly shy and take either a water approach or time to make the shot. And if you don’t catch them in their spring finery, then what’s the point. As you can see, the drake is a spectacular bird!

A couple of weeks back when I was on Kodiak I saw a pair in this one location below camp the first morning. Birds and bees were in the air which gave me a fighting chance to get close physically. When love is in the air, birds tend to ignore us. The first morning they didn’t show up. The second morning it was gray skies and I settled for Black Oystercatchers (ok, they are a cool bird too!). The third morning the light was decent but there were no birds. I waited there on the shore with the Z 8 / Z600f4 in hand for twenty minutes or so (I shot all handheld). Then the pair splashed in right in front of me. Within another fifteen minutes there were twenty of them and I was in heaven making some shots I long waited for. It was one of those moments when until I had them in the viewfinder I had forgotten just how much I wanted to photograph them. One of many long lost personal desires.

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