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.