I Can Fly

I am a bird. A raven - clawed features and sharp eyes. Black feathers flash as they absorb the light, fingertips play the updraft. Soaring, arcing; dipping, diving. The mountains are only ice and rock, but somehow there is enough to live. Somehow there is food - or a rucksack zip to unpick. A call, a lonely caw. I float and fly.

I am a bird. A condor - surfing in Patagonia. The land of granite spires and ripping gusts, tearing sound and cloth. Flying! Riding the currents with speed and skill. Eyes search the pampas far below, omniscient. Prey to be found. A single high-pitched note stretches into the wind: a solitary war cry? Each outstretched arm senses the air, giant wings riding winds. Kings of the sky.

I am a bird. A vulture - watching the climbers below. A limestone escarpment stretches for kilometres, the perfect lookout. With the crisp crackle of morning sun, solar energy hums into welcoming thermals. Effortlessly, warmth encourages flight, then height, far more graceful than any human. I am a master of the impossibility of flying. A screech echoes down the valley. A joyful cry.

I’m a bird. I float and fly. The gift of flight is all mine. And at least I don’t have to abseil to get back down, like those climbers - I can fly!


I’ve often thought, if I could be anything else, it’d be a bird. The gift of flight would be incredible, and to soar and fly is something humans have never been able to master (yet…). I’ve watched enormous, 2-metre-wingspan birds surf thermals in Patagonia; I’ve seen a lonely raven at high altitudes in Alaska, Pakistan and India; and I’ve laughed at vultures’ screeches in Spain. I’ve also seen choughs unpick my rucksack zip and eat my food!

I’ve also wanted to be a bird because it would mean no more abseiling (a part of climbing I rarely enjoy). Just fly!

There are only two photos below without birds in them - this is because my phone couldn’t make them out. I was in Spain, and every morning I’d wake up as the sun hit my van. I’d slide open the door and watch the vultures, way, way above, riding the first thermals of the day. Nice.