Your article: Attraction’s spectacular array of birds

Sparrow Hawk.
Sparrow Hawk.

For the last couple of years, I have been photographing the seasons at Burnby Hall Gardens and have regularly been amazed at the spectacular vistas that are created by sunlight on the lakes, sunrises, and the changing colours of the trees and flowers.

However, it was only recently that I started looking a little more closely at the bird life which exists in abundance here, and quite frankly, it’s amazing.

The winter period allows the opportunity for our resident birds to be seen more clearly against the stark skeletons of the trees, once the leaves have fallen. The quieter periods, when visitor numbers are lower, allows the birds to appear much later in the day than is normally the case and this has meant that, over the last few weeks, there have been sightings of species who only allow us fleeting glimpses throughout the busier periods of the year.

Most notable amongst these has been our resident kingfisher. Occasional sightings are possible during the summer and autumn months, but recent weeks have allowed me the unique opportunity to regularly see her fluttering above the upper lake and diving into the water in search of smaller fish. On one occasion, I saw her successfully take a small one from the water and carry it off into the nearby trees from which she can also be seen watching the water.

The kingfisher uses the signs for our water lilies as perches from which to survey both lakes and it is a joy to see her so often at this time of year.

Amongst the abundance of smaller birds, of which it has been estimated there are at least 24 species in the Gardens, are several Robins which are really in evidence at the moment. On hearing their chirruping call, they can particularly be found in the rock garden, the stumpery and in the shrubbery around the lower lake.

On a couple of lucky occasions, I’ve found a couple of really bold little birds who are quite willing for me to photograph them for several minutes without moving, and these opportunities have yielded some lovely seasonal photographs.

Whilst much more timid, our resident moorhens on the lower lake do make their appearance when people are not around. The summer was great as it allowed me opportunities to quite regularly photograph a chick with its mother as it made its uncertain way across the lily pads, but the winter sun has enabled me to take a couple of more recent photographs.

And then we have our bigger birds, most notable of which is our heron. This magnificent bird can often be seen in the early morning standing motionless next to the upper lake or high in our redwood tree surveying the world. It must have fantastic eyesight as it is away as soon as it gets even a glimpse of anyone in the Gardens, often from a substantial distance away.

We also have our own bird of prey on site - a sparrow hawk. Very seldom seen, although its handiwork is often in evidence, it has a tendency to watch the small birds in our aviary, whilst being unable to get to them of course! One morning a few weeks ago, it was sitting on the roof with all the little birds hiding inside. I photographed it and then it was away, with the little aviary birds then coming out as if to say “thank you”!

So next time you visit Burnby Hall Gardens, why not have a careful look around yourself and see what birds you can you can see and hear in this wonderful location.