I enjoy all the birds I see at Ft. Flagler, but I really go to see the Harlequin ducks. After seeing a Bald Eagle on the beach and a Dunlin skittering back and forth, I was worried I wasn’t going to see a Harlequin. We were at the end of the spit before I sighted a small flock of Harlequins offshore. I knew they were happy to see me, though, when one of the males rose out of the water to greet me.
I wondered if they were so far offshore because the Bald Eagle was on the beach or if they were simply resting after breakfast. They only seemed interested in preening and resting.
Though we stalked them for quite a while, they never came very close to shore, so I decided to head to the other side of the spit by the boat launch where I often see them closer to shore. As it turned out they were right next to the shore and I spooked them when I appeared suddenly above them.
Some immediately dove out of sight, but these three just swam away while keeping an eye on me.
It was a very special moment, an early Christmas present.