Beauty can be found in the most commonplace. I was struck the other day by the perfect patterns created by a preening Mallard. Appreciation of the ordinary in a new light can be as fulfilling as a many a birding experience.

Each feather was attended with care by the drake and each fell back perfectly into its allocated position. Having recently re-feathered after the eclipse stage, his feathers were in pristine condition and he seemed keen to keep them that way.

It is not easy to study feathers close up. Either they are on the bird and as such unreachable, or a dropped feather which is useless as a single entity. Being able to see the way that they fold together and slide across each other in a superbly designed pattern enables us to see the marvel that is a wing.


Written by Redgannet
Redgannet has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.