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All About The Birds and The Bees..

1974 Article

Eric has spotted something

Eric and Gordon

Eric enjoying things
Article from Radio Times 1974

How Gordon Beningfield gave up stained glass for birdwatching – and taught Eric Morecambe a thing or two.

“We’ve known each other five years,” says Eric Morecambe.

“I remember the first day I met you, I bought a couple of your paintings.” Pause. “I only lit them last week.”

We are sitting in the smart, pine-panelled lounge of Gordon Beningfield’s house, discussing birdwatching. When did Gordon start birdwatching? “The day after he was married.” Says Eric, quick as a flash.

Now, after several years making stained-glass windows, he’s a full-time wildlife artist. Gordon grimaces, “If you’re brought up in the country, like I was, and you go bird-nesting as a lad, you naturally have an interest.”

Over to Eric. “I started when I had the heart attack. I had to go out walking a lot and I got bored. So I bought a book.”

“You don’t just go and wander about. You give yourself, say a week to find a particular bird. I saw a bird on the golf course. I thought it was a parrot. I thought ‘hello, it’s escaped.’

“I rang up Gordon and described it and it was a green woodpecker. Marvelous, marvellous feeling.”

“I’ve been able to identify all the ones Eirc’s rung up about so far,” says Gordon, “but there’s plenty of birds I can’t name. It takes real ornithologists years. The smaller songbirds especially are very difficult – you get a wooded area, with the warblers…”

“Oh yes, well, you would do,” Eric adds.

“Most of the best birds you see by accident, you know. I met my wife like that. The three Fs are my other hobbies – football, fishing and photography. You might go fishing, you see. Slip a pair of small binoculars into your big poachers pocket…”

In the same way Gordon combines birdwatching with his profession as a nature artist. Both of them stress one thing – all you need to start is a book of birds and perhaps binoculars: “People thing everything in the garden is a starling or sparrow or the occasional thrush. But there are lots more.” Says Gordon.

© Radio Times 1974

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