Harlequins, and More Harlequins

I went to Ft. Flagler Wednesday to find Harlequin ducks because it’s the one place I can consistently count on seeing them, though never as many as were there Wednesday. I followed this pair of ducks down the beach until they finally climbed up on a rock, the same place I first saw one years before:

pair of Harlequin Ducks

Soon another male and female showed up, though at different times.

The male got off the rock, but the original female didn’t seem to want to share it with the new female and they jostled for position.

female Harlequin Ducks

While this was going on the two males

Harlequin Ducks

began what seemed like a synchronized swimming demonstration,

male Harlequins

as they joined up, swung wide,

male Harlequins

made a large circle,

male Harlequins

and circled back to the rock exactly where they had begun,

male Harlequins

looking quite proud of themselves, or so I imagined.

By the time they returned the second female had lost interest and had moved down the beach onto another large rock. I’m still befuddled by the entire incident. I can’t figure out why the two male Harlequins acted the way they did. Was it some kind of mating ritual? If so, why did the two males act together? And why did the male leave the female he was with to court another female?

I couldn’t find anything on the internet to suggest answers to my question. But I did discover that Harlequin are one of the most agile ducks and unlike most ducks spend winters perched on rocky cliffs at the edge of the ocean, occasionally even being battered to death against the rocks by winter storms. At leas that explains how easily they climbed up on the rocks.

3 thoughts on “Harlequins, and More Harlequins”

  1. Those male ducks are beautiful, your pictures really came out great. I guess these ducks are like humans, and they have to get away from the opposite sex for a little while at least. 🙂

    I love Fort Flagler, it is such an amazing park, I need to get back up there again and do another photo shoot… such a great part of your state!

  2. Thanks, Sean. I see you’re from Portland, an area where I spent much my adult life.

    Enjoyed looking at your photographs. Another reminder I need to extend my focus.

  3. Superb photography Loren and it is obvious that had patience to stand and capture each sequence in the dance. Their markings are so precise – it is not a duck that we have here.

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