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A male harlequin duck swims in the crashing surf at Yaquina Head on the Oregon coast, taken at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon in October 2017

A male harlequin duck swims in the crashing surf at Yaquina Head on the Oregon coast, he was not caught unaware in this chaotic environment as this is where he likes to live. It was a delight to watch the ducks thrive in the surging seas alongside the harbor seals, two species so completely different and yet living side-by-side peacefully.


A male harlequin duck stands in a tide pool as the waves come in behind him

I timed this short visit to the Oregon coast to coincide with low tides around both sunrise and sunset, planning to spend some time photographing tide pools, but my plans changed when I arrived at Yaquina Head. I had trouble finding subjects in the tide pools I wanted to photograph but the harbor seals were out in abundance, and then I saw a bird species I had never seen before, the harlequin duck. I spent the last morning photographing from a tide pool at least, as I had great views of both seals that had hauled out to sleep on the rocky shore and a nearby group of male and female harlequins. I was especially happy to get to photograph the harlequins in their environment as the tide came in, until the selfsame tide forced us both from our perches.

I’m happy to report that I did buy some Neos waterproof overshoes before the trip and they worked a treat, keeping my feet dry each day. On this day the tide came up fully over my ankles and thankfully my shoes underneath stayed dry, as I was wearing my beloved orange running shoes so I’d be comfortable on the drive back to Portland. They fold up nicely so they can go in a backpack or in a random corner in the corner, when home I hosed them out to wash off any residual saltwater and they soon dried and were ready for the next visit to the coast.