The Barrow's Project

Since December 2017 I have made a goal for myself to get a decent Barrow's Goldeneye photo. I have gone to several places in the Lower Mainland to photograph them. I have never got the photos I desired they never came close enough or the light was wrong and they were close and in shade... or close but the sun was in the wrong position for photography.

Yesterday, on my day off, I went to Lions Bay in West Vancouver and found a raft of over 100 birds. I walked on the beach and they swam far out as predicted. I had brought a yoga and beach mat and lay down on it with my radio and lunch and just waited. Eventually they swam right in front of me to feed on mussels. They didn't even care I was there I was perfectly still. My arm started to ache after a few hours and my neck pained. A few Buffleheads, Green-winged Teals and Surf Scoters were in  the large raft as well.

You know how everyone talks about getting "warbler neck" ? No one ever talks about "duck neck" and I had a serious case of it. I think I will have to book a massage soon but it was all worth it to get this close to one of if not my favorite duck!

They were doing there head cocks and mating displays literally a few arm lengths away. Some males successfully bred with the females too. The males showed their white belly as they groomed. I also saw some immature males that were interesting with their brown faces and brown heads like the females but when they got close you saw the blue feathers coming in.

At some point these guys got too close to my lens but I couldn't move back on my mat or I would have flushed the whole flock.

Since, these guys will soon be off to their breeding grounds I was so happy to be finally successful in achieving my goal.

It was so awesome on such a gorgeous day.

To see a video of the Barrow's Goldeneyes feeding right in front of me see below:


Barrow's Goldeneye Drakes - Photos: Melissa Hafting

Barrow's Goldeneye Hen - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Immature male Barrow's Goldeneye - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Male Barrow's Goldeneye preening - Photo: Melissa Hafting


  1. Cool! The "Pain in the neck" really paid off! :)

  2. gorgeous shots melissa you outdid yourself this time.

  3. Lovely shots, Mel. One of the best Barrow's I have seen. by the way, do you know when the seabirds will be back at point Roberts beach feeding fish rows?

    1. Thanks Edward good to hear from you. I noticed a spawn at Point Roberts at the end of feb and early march but nothing since and not like the numbers like last year I'll be sure to let you know and post on the RBA if I see it again! That was so cool :)

  4. Beautiful photos as always! I really like to see Barrow's on sold water streams/ponds in eastern Washington - often right next to snow and ice where the pond has thawed a bit or the running water keeps it going.

  5. OMG!! What an incredible array of photos of this gorgeous duck. Distance and light do play a big role in getting that perfect image, and you have succeeded on all counts! Awesome dedication to your art. Hope you get the kinks out of your neck soon.

  6. Thank you all so much for your very kind comments you sure made my day! I'm so happy I caught them before they depart for their breeding grounds and the males depart to moult. I miss them all summer :)

  7. stunning photos, mel! the best shots of goldeneyes I've ever seen! your subjects look completely enthralled by you! :)

    1. thank you so much hui! by the way don't forget to enter the 2018 audubon awards i know you love those contests :)


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