The Great Skua, the Ravens and the Rabbit

There are fifty Ravens at the Sands o’ Maesan. (I know that because I counted them from my photographs when I got home.) They rise in unison when I arrive and retreat to a distance. They return, slowly and carefully, as I walk on. When I head back home past them, this time stealthily, I see what they are doing; there’s a dead Rabbit on the dunes.

Great Skua - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

As I lie and observe them, unseen, a Great Skua comes patrolling and the Ravens take flight once more. The Skua lands and starts disembowelling the Rabbit, its intestines spilling onto the grass like a spilled plate of fresh spaghetti. I can see its beak twisting and turning inside the corpse. There’s scarlet blood over the feathers at the base of its beak. Then it withdraws its beak from the corpse and I can see the dark red of the Rabbit’s heart between its mandibles, held like a great delicacy. I watch the Great Skua’s tongue pushing it down its throat and the heart disappears.

The Ravens had the Rabbit’s eyes, but the Great Skua had its heart.

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