Light-mantled Sooty Albatross & chick by Helen Barnard

Phoebetria palpebrata

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and chick on Macquarie Island

Watercolour on paper

52 x 61cm (framed)

 

It’s a glorious August morning off the continental shelf. A Providence Petrel, coursing over archetypically blue seas, starts the day with cheers from all. A Salvin’s Albatrosses scythes across the distant Tasman Lighthouse, while a hundred of its Shy cousins arc just above the rapt observers; even their abundance can’t detract from their grandness. The three Prions one expects this season, Fairy, Antarctic and Slender-Billed, flicker over the slick like extensions of the breakers. And, all the while, Grey Petrel after Grey Petrel flashes through the frenzy. Not a single thought strays to trivia, in the minds of the observer, when this field of view, Dantean in its wonders, is so alive.

A lull appears in the onslaught, as per usual. Conversation begins. Laughter is shared. And then… the call goes up. Every head turns right. The first thing one notices is the way its rich, chocolate wings hardly move, but its speed forcibly turns heads.

Before one can think, it courses across the cloudless skyline like God’s paper kite, already distant. The feeling it leaves behind, a gut-punching rush, seems obsessive.

A Light-Mantled Sooty Albatross in late-winters’ sun. This is nature’s prettiest face.

George Vaughan, Hobart

$1,650.00


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