ZoomCommon Mergansers: Fixing Feathers
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Common Mergansers: Fixing Feathers

Every January through to mid April a rock next to my floathouse studio becomes the daily hangout for a group of Common Mergansers. Some years there have been as many as twenty individuals but generally the group is 7 to 9; mostly females with two or three males. They are always very alert but within a week of their arrival they get used to my presence and go about their daily routines as if I was not there. A daily ritual is to preen vigorously. They need to get out of the water to fix the feathers on their breast and belly but as the tide rises the available space on the rock diminishes with some members of the group having to wait their turn. The contorted postures that birds get into when preening are always interesting to draw and it was this aspect with early morning light coming through the female's crests that attracted me to paint the scene.

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