Harlequin ducks inhabit Prince William sound in large numbers, often in flocks exceeding a hundred birds. Since the Exxon Oil spill of 1989, studies have sought to determine the long term damage of oil contaminants to this species. They are know to return to the same feeding grounds each year, thus increasing their risk should that feeding area contain sustained oil contamination.
In early May, the ducks congregate in large groups to feed along the shores, favoring mussels and other goodies. They are a skittish duck, and getting close to them in a skiff is a challenge. With many failed attempts, I did get a few shots of the birds, most often just taking flight. Hand holding a 700mm lens in a small moving skiff, while panning a quickly flying bird is part science, part art, and part luck, especially using auto focus on such a small portion of the frame. The Drakes (males) are beautifully marked birds, and their clown-like markings are in accord with their name. The veritcal frame is a crop from a horizontal shot.