Published: 26 March 2024

Bird watching is a passionate hobby for some people. But you don’t have to be a knowledgeable enthusiast to take pleasure in spotting our feathered friends. Being aware of wildlife can make any walk a more joyful experience. And birdlife, in particular, can provide a wonderful seasonal barometer. So, what birds should you be looking for at Holker Hall as you stroll through the seasons?

Birds to Spot in Every Season

Spring birds

With nesting underway, spring is a busy season for birds. Which means that your chances of seeing an interesting array of species is pretty high, but you may not see any of them for long, as they dash back and forth between foraging and feeding their young. In March, it’s the more recognisable garden birds that will mostly catch your eye. Year-round residents, robins and blackbirds are early nest builders, and the tit families – blue tits, great tits, coal tits, and long-tailed tits are the most common, but you may also see crested, willow, and marsh tits – aren’t too far behind.  

As March turns to April though, the migratory birds begin to appear. And that’s when you may notice the likes of the chiffchaff, with its swaggering tail and yellow-tinted chest. The willow warbler, which looks very similar but is a little more yellow and has a longer wing. And the common swift, with its dark, aerodynamic shape and red throat. Not to mention all the little brown birds – the sparrows, dunnocks, sedge warblers, and wrens.

Summer birds

In the British summer, you’ll see all of the mentioned spring birds in greater numbers. But more species will be added to that. There’s an array of finches – gold, American gold, bull, haw – each bringing a splash of yellow or blush to the garden. Pied wagtails, with their black and white colouring and long, active tails, are among the most distinctive summer birds in the UK. While greater spotted and green woodpeckers will always wow.

Common redstarts, with their bluish backs and red chests can often be seen in coastal areas, while the blue-black and white beauty of house martins and swallows, with their swooping flight, can be seen throughout the UK. Larger birds, like the thrush with its brown plumage and spotted chest, and the ringed plover, with its brown back, white face, and black mask may also make an appearance.

Autumn birds

In autumn, the spring migrators head back home, but the UK’s resident bird population is again boosted by visitors. The most obvious are the geese, who make no attempt at a discrete entrance, with their large formations and distinctive calls. While waxwings, with their rakish caps and flashes of yellow on their wings are a little more subtle, but no less impressive. Redwings, which look like a thrush that’s leant against some fresh paint, also make a welcome addition.

For those with keener sight, the goldcrest is also worth looking out for. Tiny and round, they’re a little like the wren, only greyish in colour, with a black and yellow stripe running along the back of their heads.

Winter birds

In winter, the birdlife becomes less varied. But you may still see goldfinches. Their soft brown bodies made distinctive by their bright red faces and yellow wings, goldfinches are semi-migratory. Like robins, blackbirds, and tits, you can see them all year round. But some choose to head to France and Spain if the UK winter becomes really cold, reducing your chances of a sighting. Also part of the finch family, is the redpoll. Small and brown with a pink chest, these birds are always exciting to see.

Raucous and mesmerising as they move en mass in their impressive murmurations, starlings are one of the UK’s best-known winter visitors. Black at first sight, but beautifully speckled on closer inspection, people tend to love or hate starlings. They’re thugs on the bird feeder and no one wants to be standing below a murmuration, but they’re characterful and impressive, and we rather love them.

You don’t have to be a twitcher to enjoy spotting birds, but it’s easy to become hooked once you start. With their elegance, song, and colour, birds bring so much joy, and life, and value to a garden. And we simply wouldn’t be without them.   

Plan your next bird watching visit to Holker Hall to see how the species change with the seasons.