Ravens are large and impressive birds. I’m at Noup Head, the lighthouse on Westray, when I see three of them arrive.
“They were as black as they might be.”
This one looks as if it’s had its head inside a corpse. I’m glad it’s not mine, not yet. Maybe it’s a juvenile?
“Where shall we now our breakfast take?”
Ravens have complex behaviours and significant communication between one another:
“Down in yonder dear green field,
Downe a downe, hay downe, a downe,
There lies a Knight slain under his shield”
Their wings are very deep and their tail the shape of a kite:
I first heard tales of Ravens from my Scottish chemistry teacher when I was a teenager. It’s from his encouragement that I amassed a huge collection of books of traditional Scottish ballads. It’s where I first heard of Orkney. My favourite was always The Twa Corbies:
One variation of the theme in the ballad is The Three Ravens. This is the photograph I have always wanted to get of them.
Usually Ravens never allow me to get close. Today, however, they fly directly over my head and I can’t fit them all in my viewfinder.
“There lies a Knight slain under his shield”
Is it menacing enough? Do they look as if they’re discussing which part of me to eat first?
When I die I’d like to lie on Fitty Hill and have my eyes pecked out by Ravens. It’s just a shame someone would have to be prosecuted for preventing the lawful burial of a body to achieve it.
“With a downe, derrie, derrie, downe, downe.“