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Native British Birds

Updated on October 19, 2016
Nathanville profile image

To me all life is precious; even garden pests, until they start munching too much veg. I find nothing is more wondrous than nature itself.

The Reluctant Twitcher: A Quite Truthful Account of My Big Birding Year
The Reluctant Twitcher: A Quite Truthful Account of My Big Birding Year
Humorous and entertaining account packed with exceptional colour photography of a reluctant bird watcher in the year when he elevated himself from birding to become a real twitcher.

Feeding Birds in the Wild

I'm not a twitcher, but seeing birds in the wild is always a delight. Wherever on holiday in England we often see plenty of wildlife and with camera ready I always try to capture it on film.

This article is a showcase of some of the British birds, predominantly ducks and swans, which we've seen on our journeys around England and Wales including wildlife but friendly native British birds feeding at the Sticlebarn Tavern, Great Langdale in the Lake District, England.

Other birds are also featured here, in the Lake District, the Norfolk Broads, North Wales and at the famous bird sanctuary at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.

Locations of British Birds Featured in This Article

Lake District, England:
Lake District National Park, Kendal LA9 7RL, United Kingdom

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Very scenic tourist attraction, mountainous part of northern England with numerous natural large lakes in the mountains formed during the last ice age

River Ant:
River Ant

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One of the many navigable rivers on the Norfolk Broads, includes plenty of wildlife and birds including swans and ducks.

Oulton Broad:
Oulton Broad, Lowestoft, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33, UK

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One of the many broads on the Norfolk Broads; with a large swan, duck and bird wildlife.

Dovercourt, Harwich, Harwich, Essex CO12, UK

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Mistral the Swan and her family featured in this article; a well-established local swan population.

Slimbridge Wildlife Wetlands:
WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Gloucestershire GL2 7BT, UK

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Great day out for nature lovers in Gloucestershire with ample photo and film opportunities of a wide range of wildlife birds in their natural habitat.

Welsh Mountain Zoo:
Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay, Conwy LL28 5UY, UK

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Who would have thought of putting a zoo at the top of a mountain; nevertheless, it makes for a novel day trip while holidaying in North Wales.

Birds in the Lake District

Northwest England

The Lake District is a fantastic holiday destination in the North West of England, located in the mountainous region of Britain with the formation of numerous lakes being gouged out from the mountains at the end of the last ice age; a place of natural beauty.

I've been to the Lake District a couple of times and each time it's been a most wonderful experience, and although these days with tourism the lakes are breaming with ducks and swans, many waiting to be fed by passer-by's get out into the country and into the hills and you're surrounded by nature; and a chance to see a multitude of wildlife in their natural habitat and to enjoy the tranquillity. As featured in the section on Sticklebarn Tavern below you can observe native British wildlife birds at close quarters in places such as at the Tavern where wildlife birds, knowing they'll get a good feed, will come to you. If on the other hand you want to truly see birds in the wild in their natural habitat then you'll most likely be more interested in joining the 'Twitchers' at the 'Osprey Project' at Dodd Wood, Keswick to observe Osprey nesting in the wooded hillside overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake.

Hand Feeding Swans on Lake Windermere

The Largest Lake in the Lake District

Hungry swans filmed by me while on one of our visits to Lake Windermere while on holiday in the Lake District. In the wild you know to respect the swan and keep your distance because they are not the friendliest of birds and will attack if they feel threatened, or if you get too close to them.

But in populated area like the great lakes of the Lake District where there are plenty of tourists who enjoy feeding birds swans know which side their bread is buttered on and are more than happy to mingle with the passing public for a chance of a generous hand out of food; as clearly shown in this video.

Challenge to all Ornithologist

Can You Name These Birds

Ornithology isn't my forte, it ought to be as I love nature and I love filming wildlife and native wild birds. So I should know the birds in the video featured below, especially as they are common to the British Isles and are frequently seen in our British back gardens; as an organic gardener we see plenty of wildlife birds in our back garden all the year round.

However, it's a subject I've never got into and as a lot of the birds of the type in the video look similar, without ploughing through loads of web pages trying to positively identify them all with certainty, I'd not want to start naming them here or on the video only to discover I've incorrectly identified them.

Therefore, I thought this would be a good challenge for budding bird enthusiast to name these birds shown in this video below and to let me know in the Comments Box at the bottom of the page.

Identify These Birds Filmed at Sticklebarn in the Lake District

How many birds can you name in this video, common or Latin names and a description for further identification would also be useful?

Sticklebarn Tavern

The Lake District, England

The wildlife birds featured in the above video were filmed by me while they were feeding at Sticklebarn Tavern, Great Langdale, Ambleside, in the Lake District, England.

Sticklebarn Tavern is a popular pub in the midst (or should I say heights) of the Lake District open seven days a week and for the weary traveller does excellent pub food. The Tavern is just a ten minutes' walk from the Great Langdale Campsite run by the National Trust so is ideally situated for campers from the site.

Great Langdale Campsite and the nearby Sticklebarn Tavern are located high-up in the Lake District with open countryside all around and an excellent view of the surrounding mountains so they make for a very pleasant stop for anyone passing by. Having stopped over at the campsite ourselves and enjoying the facilities of Sticklebarn Tavern I highly recommend these as a great stopover destination for any Lake District Adventurer. Great Langdale is a valley just two miles from the town of Ambleside which is located on the edge of Lake Windermere; the largest natural lake in England.

Birds in the Norfolk Broads

Southeast England

Norwich in the Norfolk Broads is a little over 100 miles (170 km) to the north west of London; and Harwich in Essex is just 50 miles (75 km) south of Norwich. The Area between Norwich and Great Yarmouth on the coast to the east is all part of the Norfolk Broads, and Harwich to the south is also a coastal town.

Where there's water you'll find birds, usually Swans and ducks in England, and like the Lake District in North West England the Norfolk Broads at the other end of the country has lots of water, albeit the Norfolk Broads being flat marshland near see level rather than mountain lakes high up in the hills of the Lake District thousands of feet above sea level.

I've spent a few holidays on the Broads, the last time renting a Victorian windmill for the week that's been converted into a holiday cottage. The windmill, which sits on the bank of the River Yare, was built by the Victorians to pump water from the marshland into the River Yare. The location of the Windmill (Red Mill) is so isolated and tranquil that you're surrounded by wildlife in their natural habitat. Whether you holiday in the Norfolk Broads, camping, stay in rented holiday accommodation, hire a boat or just make it a day trip you're in the heart of nature at its best surrounded by wildlife and will have ample opportunity to observe the wildlife native British birds.

While on holiday in the Norfolk Broads, or just there on a day trip, visiting any of the Broads, such as Oulton Broad, or venturing along the multitude of rivers joining the Broads e.g. Ant River you'll see ample ducks and swans for sure but you'll also see plenty of other birds, as the videos and photos below reveal.

Feeding Ducks and Swans on the River Ant

One of the Great Rivers Linking the Broads Together in the Norfolk Broads

When we hired a boat for the day to explore part of the Broads, mainly the River Ant, there were as usual plenty of swans around and when we moored up for a quick bite to eat, as is customary, the swans wanted some of the action. So before setting off again we let them join us in our feast while I took the opportunity to film them, as shown in the video here.

Feeding a Swarm of Hungry Swans on Oulton Broad

One of the Great Broads of the Norfolk Broads

In Britain, where there’s water and people there’s swans and ducks invariably attracted by an easy meal from generous tourists and passer-by’s. Oulton Broad is no exception, as shown in this short video filmed by me while we were on a week’s holiday In the Norfolk Broads.

The Bird Population of Oulton Broad and Swans on the River Ant

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Feeding the Young of Mistral the Swan in Essex, England

The Mistral Story

Mistral the Dovercourt Swan and her young filmed by me while we were on holiday in Dovercourt, Essex. Years ago my wife had relatives living in Dovercourt, an adjoining town to Harwich, Essex, so we use to return every year for a family holiday and would explore the surrounding areas, including the famous Roman town of Colchester. Harwich and the neighbouring town of Dovercourt, Essex is in southeast England, not far from the Norfolk Broads.

On our many visits to Dovercourt we became acquainted with Mistral, one of the local resident swans who lived on the local ponds for many years, and on subsequent visits we would make a point of visiting her and her family. It was on one of these visits we met one of the members of the local 'Harwich Environment Action Team' and between following visits she was kind enough to keep us up-to-date with Mistral's life and the progress of her young from year to year, periodically sending us photos and updated information on Mistral and the other swans under the wing and protection of the local resident group; which has been published to my website. Mistral's plight and life touched the hearts of the local residents of Harwich and Dovercourt who watched over her and ensured her safety during her life in Dovercourt; and in her honour is a video I put together of the Mistral story, as shown below.

Mistral the Swan and Family in Dovercourt, Essex

Click thumbnail to view full-size

The Full Story of Mistral the Swan

As Told by Eileen Tyrer

Eileen Tyrer Patroller of the Harwich Environmental Action Team.

Slimbridge, Gloucestershire

Southwest England

If you truly wish to see wildlife birds in their natural habitat in south west England then the Slimbridge wildlife Wetlands and Bird Sanctuary in Gloucestershire is the ideal day trip.

We only live an hour's drive away so it makes a convenient day trip for us and it always makes for a great day out. The opportunity to observe a multitude of wildlife birds close up and being able to see them in their natural habitat in the wildlife wetlands is a most wonderful experience with plenty of opportunity for great photography.

Birds at Slimbridge Wildlife Wetlands

Slimbridge is a Bird Sanctuary and Wildlife Nature Reserve in Gloucestershire, southwest England well laid out for tourists to wander around, keeping to the designated paths and stopping at numerous hides, to observe native British and migrating wildlife birds as they feed, breed and live in their natural habitat in the wetlands of Slimbridge.

For anyone visiting or holidaying in Gloucestershire who loves birds and nature Slimbridge is the ideal day trip for a great day out as this video filmed by me on our last visit to Slimbridge shows.

Slimbridge Bird Sanctuary in Gloucestershire

Click thumbnail to view full-size


South Wales is also only an hour's drive from us, but the place to really see the wildlife in Wales is North Wales which is a much longer drive but for the tranquillity in a mountainous region of Britain is worth the trip. On the occasions we've visited north wales our holiday destination has always been Llandudno, and from there an opportunity to explore the surrounding areas. Although there are no specific tourist spots in North Wales were you are guaranteed to spy wildlife and wildlife birds at their best in their natural habitat the one place a little unusual where you can see wild animals at close quarters that's well worth a visit is the famous Welsh Mountain Zoo located on top of a mountain overlooking Colwyn Bay in North Wales. The zoo isn't particularly large or particularly special, excepting its location on top of a mountain, but nevertheless it made for a pleasant day out. What was really special, and quite unusual, was watching the penguins at feeding time. Instead of the usual throwing of fish into the water for the penguins which is most common at feeding times in zoos the penguins marched out in line on a section of grass parading in front of the tourists visiting the zoo giving you a chance to really see them close up and almost touch them; as shown in the video below.

Feeding Penguins in North Wales Mountain Top Zoo

I’ve always associated penguins with water and ice at sea level and the Poles, in in zoos always penned off from the public. So as seen in this video (filmed by me while I was on holiday in the area) seeing penguins close up on grass and high up in the mountains in North Wales was a novelty experience. Especially when the penguins marched out in line in front of us across the grass following their zoo keeper at feeding time; then walking around in a big circle so every spectator would be sure to see the penguins march in front of them. Also as this video shows in the parade is the odd naughty seagull or two who snatches the odd meal from the penguin’s mouths.


Not sure how well known the word is in America but in Britain a Twitcher is one who flocks to an area where a rate bird is known to be in the hope of seeing it for themselves; as opposed to a birdwatcher who just loves watching birds.

Are you a Birdwatcher or a Twitcher

See results

So, are you a Birdwatcher or a Twitcher - Wild Native Birds

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    • Nathanville profile imageAUTHOR

      Arthur Russ 

      3 years ago from England

      Thanks all for your comments and feedback. Recent studies in Britain has shown birds living in urban areas sing with a higher pitch to be better heard over traffic noise.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful article. I love watching the birds who visit my patio, as well as others I encounter.

    • LynetteBell profile image


      7 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      It's lovely to hear the birds singing...they were a bit silent during our earthquake period.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i don't go out of my way to see birds - but I do like seeing them when I am at wildlife centers - or just generally out.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love watching birds. :)

    • Nathanville profile imageAUTHOR

      Arthur Russ 

      8 years ago from England

      @EMangl: Yes the red bird with blue cap is a chffinch, well spoted, thanks. I've added this detail at the appropiate place in the video.

    • Nathanville profile imageAUTHOR

      Arthur Russ 

      8 years ago from England

      @EMangl: Thanks, I'll check it out on Google and see if I can find a good match.

    • EMangl profile image


      8 years ago

      the little red one might be Fringilla coelebs (chaffinch)


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