WARNING: Some viewers may find these images disturbing.

Duck, it’s what’s for dinner …

In this beautiful (if somewhat gruesome) photo series, Icelandic photographer Ágúst Svavar managed to capture the moment a gyrfalcon made a messy meal of a mallard duck.

Snapped on Christmas Eve in Svavar’s hometown of Bolungarvik last year, the images are the culmination of many hours spent hunkered down in bird hides or racing across the country in search of the perfect shot of gyrfalcons feeding. But in the end, Svavar didn’t have to travel too far to get what he was looking for.

“I have been trying for some time to get good pictures of gyrfalcons with their prey ... and it came just out of the blue,” he tells us via email.

Svavar responded to a call from a friend who told him he’d spotted a gyrfalcon flying around town. “When I got there all I saw was about 20 ravens in the area and a dead mallard lying by a river that traverses the town. I stopped about 10 to 15 metres away from the mallard and waited in the car. Suddenly, the ravens started to make a lot of noise, and then I saw the falcon coming in fast!”

Gyrfalcons are the largest of the world's falcons, and the Icelandic population is particularly special as they are considered genetically unique compared to those in Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Norway. They feed on a variety of birds and mammals and, according to Svavar, rock ptarmigans are their favoured prey. “This time of year can be really hard for them because the day is short and the weather can be really bad with strong snowstorms that last for days. So each hunt is precious.”

Although the birds are typically shy and will fly off if they detect any threat, this hungry falcon wasn’t about to give up a meal. “It was aware of me the whole time, but I was very silent and didn’t move so I wouldn’t disturb him,” Svavar explains.