Midsomer Murders (1997– )
5 user 1 critic

A Rare Bird 

Barnaby and Jones investigate whether competition between ornithology enthusiasts led to murder.


Nicholas Laughland (as Nick Laughland)


Steve Trafford (screenplay), Caroline Graham (based on characters by)




Episode complete credited cast:
Neil Dudgeon ... DCI John Barnaby
Jason Hughes ... DS Ben Jones
Fiona Dolman ... Sarah Barnaby
Tamzin Malleson ... Kate Wilding
Genevieve O'Reilly ... Nina Morgan
Alexander Hanson Alexander Hanson ... Patrick Morgan (as Alex Hanson)
Paul Bigley Paul Bigley ... Tim Whitley
James Dreyfus ... Ralph Ford
Allan Corduner ... Michael Hipsman
Paul Nicholls ... Dave Foxely
Tony Haygarth ... George Napier
Nicholas Boulton ... Dr. Markham
Amanda Lawrence ... Olivia Carter
Ella Al-Khalil Coyle Ella Al-Khalil Coyle ... Aimee Whitley


When bird-watcher Ralph Ford claims to have seen a blue-crested hoopoe - thus winning him the year's list contest - other members of the Midsomer-in-the-Marsh ornithological society are angry, especially society chairman Patrick Morgan, who, later that night is lured to his death by a call on Ford's stolen phone. Morgan was generally unpopular in the society and farmer George Napier benefits by the death as Morgan intended to save wetlands he intended to drain whilst his Russian widow Nina, a former ballerina, is pregnant, and since her husband had had a vasectomy he is not the father. The real father is the next victim - will a third person meet their death at the hands of one who has killed two people as well as a rare bird? Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-14 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

11 January 2012 (UK) See more »

Filming Locations:

Hurley, Berkshire, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Barnaby and Jones find the stuffed Blue-Crested Hopoe in Ralph's back room, Jones say it's "dead....as I don't know what." He's looking right at what appears to be a stuffed Dodo (which Ralph couldn't have stuffed since they've been extinct for centuries (widely accepted since 1662)) oddly he doesn't seem to recognize it as surely it would have triggered him to remember that the common phrase is "dead as a Dodo." Barnaby does seem to recognize it though, giving Jones an odd look before the scene ends. See more »


The program/brochure that was on the wall of the room of the obsessed fan misspelled "Starring" Nina which was spelled "Staring" Nina. See more »


[first lines]
Patrick Morgan: There we go. You're a beauty, aren't you?
See more »


Swan Lake
Composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
See more »

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User Reviews

'Midsomer Murders' and ornithology
4 March 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

When in its prime (a vast majority of Seasons 1-9), 'Midsomer Murders' was a great show and one that is watched and re-watched frequently. Seasons 10-13 became more uneven, with three of the show's worst episodes coming from Seasons 11 and 13, but there were a few solid episodes and "Blood Wedding" and especially "Master Class" were gems.

After John Nettles retired and Neil Dudgeon and the new character of John Barnaby took over, 'Midsomer Murders' just hasn't been the same for reasons detailed in reviews for the previous Season 14 episodes. Season 14 on the most part was very disappointing, with "Echoes of the Dead" and "Night of the Stag", two of the show's embarrassments, faring worst and "The Oblong Murders" and "A Sacred Trust" being good episodes faring best. "A Rare Bird" belongs in neither extreme, and is a fairly average episode overall, with some things that are done well and others that still don't work.

Starting with the good things about "A Rare Bird", the production values cannot be faulted as usual, it's beautifully and atmospherically shot with suitably picturesque scenery. The music fits perfectly, with some lush jauntiness and sometimes an ominous quality (don't think "Scene" from Tchaikovsky's 'Swan Lake' has ever been used so ominously), and the haunting theme tune is one of the most memorable and instantly recognisable of the genre.

The story itself is fun with a creepy atmosphere, wisely on the most part not taking itself too seriously while never descending into over-silliness. The characters are not as dull or pantomimic as most supporting characters this season which is a major plus. The denouement is pretty creepy, even if the murderer's motives were very clichéd. The supporting acting is good, with Amanda Laurence, Genevieve O'Reilly and James Dreyfuss standing out, giving their all in quite juicy roles. Sykes as always steals every scene he's in, he has the cute factor and great comic timing.

However, am also in the camp of not caring for the character of John Barnaby or Neil Dudgeon's acting in this. They're not problems in every episode, but all too often Barnaby is too smug and disdainful and Dudgeon too stiff and lacking in nuance. The chemistry between him and Jones, here a tepid underused presence and still made to look like a dolt (felt really uncomfortable when 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' was referenced), is not there and Barnaby is far too mean-spirited towards him, what could have been witty came over as condescending put-downs.

Believe it or not, there's even less chemistry between him and Fiona Dolman's Sarah. She is charmless throughout and has no warmth while one never gets the sense that they're in love let alone husband and wife, how she speaks to him which is probably where his treatment of Jones comes from is a dead give-away. Dr. Bullard has been very sorely missed since leaving in "The Oblong Murders", even more so when none of his replacements have left a positive impression. Kate is a very bland character with not much personality (Kam, the current one, is even worse though). The script sometimes is fun with the supporting characters but the dialogue between the leads makes one cringe and yearn for the classic era writing.

Overall, average episode. 5/10 Bethany Cox

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