Light-mantled sooties

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Oil on canvas, 70cm x 90cm

To my mind the Rolls-Royce of seabirds has to be the light-mantled sooty albatross. A dark brown plumage cloaks its elegantly streamlined body and rapier wings. A mushroom grey mantle sets off the chocolate hood, which, seen close up, is delicately trimmed by the double crescents of white eyelids.

In flight they are the embodiment of grace. The courting pair wheel, swoop and glide in perfect unison with wings held still, using only the wind to push them through their exquisitely choreographed aerial dance.

One evening in the Bay of Isles I watched this pair perform their duet against the backdrop of snow-covered mountains; dwarfed by the vastness of their stage.

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