Perfect Blue
Kona Macphee
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Commentary: Pheasant and astronomers

I'm not really an astronomer at all, but I did get to spend a few years writing astronomy-related software in the amenable surrounds of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge. The IoA occupies a garden-like site on the outskirts of town, and is frequented by a variety of wildlife - including, rather bizarrely, some genuinely black squirrels.

Pheasants are hardly rare in the UK, but to see a cock pheasant up close is to be reminded of how arrestingly colourful this "ordinary" bird's plumage is. We take pheasants for granted because they're everywhere - punctuating the furrows of ploughed fields, flapping in last-minute panic out of hedgerows, lying smashed on single-track lanes and motorways - and we forget how extravagantly, casually lovely they are.

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