Friday, 26 April 2013


I woke up on the morning of March 3 feeling cold even when I'm tucked under the blanket. I later realised that the heater has stopped working. I looked outside and saw that the storm was still dangerously strong. I also noticed that there was no street light. I went to the bathroom wanting to wash my face but turned out that the water wasn't running. Then I finally realised that the city was blacked out. The hotel owner had to put out candles along the hallway and later brought us some bottled water to use during the meantime. We went down to have breakfast under candle light in the lobby and were surprised as we checked the news and found out that 8 people were reported dead from the storm. Around noon, Yann came back to the hotel and told us that there's a male Bufflehead in the port right now. The storm got a little weaker as well, so I quickly grabbed my camera and went out for my lifer.

Greater Scaup getting all frozen up

The storm was real nasty.

Eclipse male and breeding male Harlequin Ducks

Coming closer

The only breeding male in the flock

Male Common Merganser

Typical feeding posture

Spotted then dive!

Male Common Goldeneye

Showing its nictitating membrane

Amazing how the colour greatly shifts according to the angle of head and light.


Immature male Common Goldeneye

Male Harlequin Duck once again

The one on the right started to display.

Swimming in line

This individual was surprisingly tame, favouring a specific corner of the port.

Incredible pattern

Especially when looking straight towards the camera

Another close up shot

After I arrived at the port and spent some time scanning the flocks of ducks, I could see the male Bufflehead swimming among the scaups and Harlequin Ducks out in the middle of the port. With my 300mm lens, I could never get a decent shot of it. Luckily, Yann came to the port and offered me his 500mm lens. It was a huge difference between 300 and 500. It was the first time I felt like I should have one in the future.

The weather was, however, extremely nasty, so I had to give up and went back to the hotel to get myself warm and dry. I rested and rested in my room for hours, constantly checking the weather outside the window, and finally the snow began to stop and incredibly the sun began to shine through! So I quickly grabbed the camera, now with the 500mm lens, to the port and hoped for the Bufflehead to come around closer.

Even more photos of male Harlequin Ducks! Well, it's hard to get enough of this.

I like when they swim closer.

The same Common Merganser coming back around

And dive!

Male Common Goldeneye under the sun

Again with the purplish head

Pristine tail feathers!

The immature male preparing to dive


Male Bufflehead acting cute

Which is which?

The sun finally broke though.

The last shot before they decided to fly out into the sea.

The Harlequins still stayed around inside the port.

Swimming out once I got too close

Looking funny on land

Stretching and flapping wings

With a miniature iceberg

I've no idea how this poor eclipse male got its bill wrapped by a rubber band like that.

Flock of eclipse males

Simply stunning

Ok, this will be the last photo of Harlequin

The male Bufflehead was much shier than other ducks and always stayed in the middle of the port. It did come a little closer just before the sun broke through though, but then decided to fly out with other ducks into the sea since the weather seemed to be fine. After it was gone, I walked around taking photos of other common ducks, especially the Harlequins which were much tamer than the last time I came. It was impossible for me not to take photos of them when they're around. As I was taking photos of the Harlequins, the male Bufflehead came landing back into the port! I guess it was because the weather began to get worse again. This time I could finally get some pretty good shots of it as it decided to come closer with a flock of Common Goldeneyes.

Male Bufflehead with Common Goldeneyes in the background

Male Bufflehead

What a cute duck!

It's slightly smaller than the Goldeneyes.

Checking the sky for eagles

Another portrait

Some Common Goldeneyes starting to bath.

I can never understand why they decided to bath in this kind of weather and temperature!

Showing its brightly coloured foot.


Then flew out to the nearby harbour.

The last shot and also the closest I could get before it flew out towards the sea.

In the evening we even had a pretty nice view of a Spotted Seal coming near the port!


  1. I heard about that Bufflehead, nice find. Great Harlequin pics again.

    I think I need a 500 too! Now I just have to find $10000.

  2. Stunning, Ayuwat. I envy you the experience of the birds and the photos, but not the weather!

  3. What an amazing collection of beautiful ducks. All I can say, is I need a 500mm lens too!!! You already know how to use one. Your pictures are superb. I feel sorry for the frozen scaup. Oh, I need a new lens...

  4. WOW, stunning images. I really love the colours of the male birds. You are so lucky. And congrats on the lifer.

  5. Very nice pics Ayuwat, you made great use of the 500 ;-)