Sunday, 7 January 2018

A winter visitor

After the rain and snow of late, a cold spell is now upon us and it has brought in an unusual and welcome bird to our garden - a pair of Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla).

I haven't seen a Brambling in years and even then it was a very fleeting glance, this time I got excellent views and time to photograph. Easily mistaken for a Chaffinch at a quick glance, this stunning little bird has so much more going on.

Diagnostically key is the black tipped yellow beak. A lovely peachy-red upper chest is complemented with the wing bars and primaries. Like many finches, there are hints of gold in the flight feathers.
The underside is white/buff with neat rows of black specks. On the back, an obvious white stripe down the back and the black and white shading at the neck are also diagnostic.

They are charming birds and in the cold had fluffed themselves up on occasion to look like round pop poms of feathers with little beaks sticking out.

Common in large flocks many Bramblings come to this country from northern Scandinavia in the winter. They breed in the birch forests of Norway and Sweden.

Most often recorded in gardens in March there are peaks in the years they appear. Previous good years for Brambling were 2008, 2011 and 2013. They are more commonly seen in flocks often with other ground feeding finches such as Chaffinch feeding on Beech Mast although checks on my patch around the beech trees revealed none.

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