Here is another in a series of posts that celebrates the beauty hidden in plain sight, the astounding in the ordinary. Our subject today is the humble Mallard. While we all love birds for their spectacular and stupefying relationship to the air, waterfowl have another element to navigate and they are equally attuned to its demands. Above, a Mallard preens in New Zealand and sends pulsing waves into the morning light.

A Mallard’s perspective on the art of dabbling.

A water blanket on a cool winter’s morning. (actually just a split second during bathing)

Mallards like to land feet first and scrub off some of that tremendous airspeed before settling in…

and creating a lovely yet fleeting trough in the water behind them.

Sometimes even these graceful creatures get it wrong. When a foot digs in the result is often comical.

I love the water chandeliers they make when they plop into the water from a nearby ledge!

OK so not a duck, but geese are also chandelier makers of the highest order.

Still not a duck, but how could I resist including this image of a Pied-billed Grebe going for a belly slide?

And for good measure a Western Grebe just beginning to submerge.

One more gratuitous diving shot.

If we stop looking closely at the common birds (and what are more common than Mallards?), we might miss out on some strange and lovely moments. Here’s to the everyday and the everywhere, to the myriad delights hidden in plain sight.

Written by Walter
Walter Kitundu is an artist and designer, instrument builder and bird photographer. As an artist he has created hand built record players powered by the wind and rain, fire and earthquakes, birds, light, and the force of ocean waves. Walter has performed and been in residence at art centers and science museums internationally. He has performed with the renowned Kronos Quartet, bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, the electronic music duo Matmos, and the legendary Marshall Allen - in venues from Carnegie Hall to a high school library in Egilstaadir, Iceland. In 2008 Walter became a MacArthur Fellow. Walter loves photographing birds and is an ongoing volunteer with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory. He was hooked when a Red-tailed Hawk landed at his side, ate a caterpillar, then refused to leave. He is a Senior Design Developer for the Studio Gallery at the Exploratorium in San Francisco where he designs and builds environments for learning. You can see more of his work on his blog, Bird Light Wind.