Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The fulmar

The seabirds banked, swooped and dived across the bay. So many different shapes and colours blurring across the horizon, cawing and shitting as they saw fit.
Several gulls were attacking a predatory bird that was returning to its craggy haven on the limestone cliff-face. They mobbed the bird – a peregrine falcon – as it tried to bring its hard-caught prey to its young. The proud falcon didn’t stand much of a chance against this rabble of sneering, sniping gulls and eventually relinquished its carrion.
The meat fell, flimsy, several hundred feet to the water below. The gulls that had freed it stood no chance as the amalgam of seabirds, floating and bobbing on the high summer tide, snatched and tore the haggard piece of flesh to pieces as soon as it sploshed into the sea.
But there, high above this scene, above all of this, circling and surveying all before it with a calm eye, flew the fulmar. This prehistoric survivor has seen so much. He is born to thrive.
Able to exist far out at sea, this little bull bird flying back and forth in search of fish, so hardy, he can live for forty years. His young share his spirit, spraying a thick and foul oil at any predators that come their way, fighting and thriving before they can even fly.
He’s the great fisher of the seas, and the trawlermen pay him homage as they follow him home each morning with their own hard-won catch.

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