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Purple Sandpiper and Harlequin Duck - February 10, 2013

Purple Sandpiper at Presque Isle State Park, Gull Point, Erie County
Harlequin Duck at Freeport, Armstrong County
On Saturday 2/9, Drew Mortensen found this Purple Sandpiper at Gull Point in Erie County, and happily it was still present the next day when I and several others made the trip to see it. While at Presque Isle, an alert came across that Dan Yagusic had found a Harlequin Duck on the Allegheny River near Freeport in Armstrong County. Purple Sandpiper and Harlequin Duck in the same day? Was this Barnegat Lighthouse in New Jersey or western Pennsylvania?
Anyone who has seen Purple Sandpipers at Barnegat or elsewhere on the coast knows that they can be a very tame and confiding species. The bird at Gull Point was no exception. One needed only to keep a low profile and have some patience, and the bird would approach very closely. As can be seen from the first photo, it was much more focused on feeding on gizzard shad and other bits and pieces than anything else.

Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L + 1.4x TC III, 1/2500 sec. at f/10 (manual), ISO 800, tripod

Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L, 1/2000 sec. at f/10 (manual), ISO 800, tripod

Occasionally it would skate across the ice to a different feeding location, slipping and sliding along the way, and actually losing its footing from time to time. Some of my photos revealed how much it was trying to dig its tiny claws into the ice as it did this, in an effort to keep its balance. It wasn't really working.

Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L + 1.4x TC III, 1/2000 sec. at f/10 (manual), ISO 800, tripod

Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L + 1.4x TC III, 1/2000 sec. at f/10 (manual), ISO 800, tripod

Finally, as last hour of daylight was drawing near, I made my way home via Freeport to have a look at the Harlequin. The bird was on the other side of the river so a pretty bad documentation photo was all that could be had:

Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L + 1.4x TC III, 1/250 sec. at f/5.6 (manual), ISO 1250, tripod

Unless explicitly indicated otherwise in the photo caption, all photos on this website were taken by and are 2003-2013 by Geoff Malosh. Unauthorized usage of these photographs for any purpose is strictly forbidden. If you are interested in using any photo for publication or if you are interested in obtaining a print, contact me at pomarine -AT- earthlink -DOT- net.