All About The Birds and The Bees..
Article from Radio Times 1974
Eric has spotted something
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