Describing the flight of birds   Leave a comment


If you need to describe the flight of birds, it is best to divide them into separate categories of motion. For example, an eagle has a different flight pattern to a swallow. I’m going to divide birds into 7 different types of movement. If you are writing an essay, however, the birds can become active participants in the story as easily as passive ones. There is an example below of a narrator walking on a beach with seagulls overhead.

Keep an eye out for my descriptive writing book and workbook on Amazon. It is called ‘Writing with Stardust’ and there are over 58,000 words to help you with your descriptive writing. It has a grid for birds in flight and all nearly all the words in the book are put into sentences, paragraphs and essays in order to give context to them. It should be an invaluable guide for parents, students, teachers and lovers of English. For much more of these types of posts, please check out  the book Writing with Stardust by clicking the book title.


Anyway, without further distractions, here is the post:


1. He was gliding through the air.

2. He was soaring far above us.

3. He was sailing through the air.


1. He raced away from me.

2. His wings were whirring at a furious rate.

3. His wings were a flurry of motion.


1. He was cutting through the air.

2. He was flitting through the air.

3. He was skimming through the air.

Peregrine falcon:

1. He swooped down on his victim.

2. He plunged towards the ground.

3. He dive bombed his prey from a great height.


1. He was hanging in the air.

2. He was hovering in the air. (Gerard Manley Hopkins named him the windhover).

3. He was loitering in the air and scanning the ground below.


1. He was circling in the air.

2. He was drifting in the air.

3. He was climbing the thermals and going out of sight.


1. He was lazing in the air.

2. He was swimming through the air.

3. He was cruising through the air.



Who doesn’t like to take an amble along the beach?  There is something to be said for the liquid-and-sand allure of the seashore. The sounds that surround you and the polished brilliance of the light have a way of burgling into the soul and staying there long after you have left. Whether it is the micro details or the broad sweep of canvas, the seaside provides us with a multisensory nourishment that is like caviar for the soul. But first you have to get past the seagulls. Such inelegant birds.

Who hasn’t had their train of thought broken by these pirates of the sky? You walk alone, letting the operatic song of the sea wash over you and admiring the exquisite beauty of the colours. You are lost in the bliss of your own creative imagination as you notice that the sea is a creased roll of cyan-blue, the clouds, or what little there are, are truffle-white, and the hazy horizon is bathed in a sunrise-pink glow. You notice that the rocks are like indented slabs of black marble, still glistening with the afterglow of the high tide. The anemones that stick to them are a peaceful, monk-brown and the seaweed gleams in velvet-green. You are just about to describe the smells from the far away villas when……what was that? Was that the sound of paradise lost? Was that actually the sound of squawking and quarrelling on this most blissful of mornings?

Then they ghost into view. They use the sun to hide their approach, but the noise they make is unmistakable. The first glimpse you get of them is when you squint your eyes towards the sun. The sun is glowing like a shiny, gold sovereign and they are the stains upon it. First one, then two, then a whole multitude of the troublemakers. They are after the breakfast roll you clutch tighter in your hand and you are up against it as these are a determined enemy. They sail and glide towards you first, using the sun as a shield and approaching in silent mode for the attack. The first one that you can make out properly is googling you with his cannibal’s eye, searching for your weaknesses and seemingly satisfied that you are, indeed, a victim. When he has established that you are, he makes his move. Tucking his wings in to himself, he swoops towards you like an avenging angel of death.

What the….? As you are bracing yourself for his attack, the rest of the mob have circled in behind you and one of them has pecked at your hand trying to dislodge the roll. Instinct has made you swipe at him and the blow lands on his soft body, scattering the rest and throwing feathers into the air. He screams at you now, beating his wings furiously a few feet above your head. Pirate one has used this distraction to dive bomb your head and you feel the sharp end of one of his claws on your scalp. You now have an angry horde of seagulls flapping, whirling, swooping and plunging above your head. You are not happy about how other tourists might see you, leaping up and down with a large bacon and sausage roll in your hand and screaming vile curses at some birds. You are a human being; a rational person, cunning, the apex predator, so you move into Defcon two. You put the roll inside your shirt. It is becoming a symbol of your resolve.

This is the seagulls’ Gates of Thermopylae. They have clear instructions from their mates waiting in the nest-come back with the sausages or come back as one. They increase the ferocity of their attack. They scream and circle, screech and plummet, all the while with wings a-flurry probing for weakness. Their beaks are sharp, their claws rip at you and you have no choice but to move into Defcon three. You run. They come at you from every angle, jabbing at your head and with their wings beating the air. You can smell their fishy breath as they dive bomb you like the plesiosaurs from Jurassic Park. They are aerodynamic and remorseless and they arrow down towards you in an unending wave of brazen attacks. A group of tourists are coming towards you with cameras and you don’t want to see this farce on YouTube. You concede defeat. You sink to your knees and reach for the roll. You can smell the delicious waft of mustard and ketchup inside it as you throw it violently into the air. It never reaches the ground because these vampires of the beach are attacking it in a frenzy of barbarian proportions. You can see the sausages and bacon disappear down their greedy gullets and you fear for your future.

The symphony of sand-song returns to your ears as the noisy marauders disappear into the distance. You can feel the zingy sting of salt in your eyes and you will never know if it is the sea spray or tears. You walk back towards your villa and you notice one seagull is standing behind you, beak raised to the sky and crying out in a triumphant voice. The wrapper floats gently down towards him and you could swear that the lettering reads: seagulls rule the beach. Head bowed, you must explain to your wife why you’re not bringing home the bacon to her……..

For much more of these types of posts, please check out my new book Writing with Stardust by clicking the book title.

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