Loons and other seafaring birds of Northeast Harbor

After a snowshoe in Acadia National Park on Feb. 28, I took a drive to the marina of Northeast Harbor to see what I could find swimming in the icy ocean water. With my camera in hand, I stood on a dock and counted at least 10 common loons floating among the fishing boats and buoys. Through my 400mm lens, I also spotted the green head of a male red-breasted merganser, it’s crest sticking up like a mohawk. And after a while, I spied a female bufflehead, a small black and grey duck with a white spot under and behind its eye. I watched as it dove underwater, then popped up a short distance away, only to dive under again. Photographing it was like playing Whack-A-Mole.

As I stood there, a group of four eiders — two males and two females — swam closer to the dock. I think male eiders are especially pretty birds, with their bright yellow beaks, and their sleek white and black bodies, so I was excited to be able to take some photos of them as they swam in front of a nearby boat.

I then devoted the rest of my time to the loons. I’ve had experiences with loons on lakes in the past, and they always seem to keep a distance. I’ve never been able to get a good photo of them. But the loons of northeast harbor seemed to be used to people walking about on the docks. They stayed right where they were as I photographed them from the shore. I’m glad to have been able to capture them in their winter plumage, which is strikingly different from their summer outfit.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.