At first glance, the plumage of some birds may appear dull and unattractive, but close inspection will reveal a myriad of tones and shades, every nuance a subtle blend of iridescence , especially when viewed highlighted in low winter sunshine.

Into this category can be placed the starling. A basic shiny black, its plumage is shot with purple and green, speckled with multi coloured yellow spots.

Even the carrion crow with glossy black plumage reflects green and purple  in certain lights.

Another shining example is the cormorant. The photo depicts one along the Kingston towpath, wings outstretched to dry and assist digestion, with striking burnished metallic greenish-bronze feathers, not black as they usually appear.

Anglers despise the cormorant complaining that the birds can rapidly deplete fish stocks. Of course, fish is their staple diet but what about herons, great crested grebes, kingfishers and in summer, common terns patrolling the river and diving on small fry swimming just below the surface? Then there are voracious underwater predators such as pike and perch both of which feed mainly on fish/ So, the cormorant comes under some harsh and unfair criticism because of its lifestyle but its rather primitive pterodactyl - like appearance is deceptively beautiful as the photo shows.