Saturday, 9 April 2016

Bird of the week - Brambling

I have been checking my chaffinches all winter, hoping one of them would turn out to be a brambling, but none of them did - until yesterday.  I grabbed the camera and managed a few shots through the window.  The brambling is such a smart looking bird.  It may be the first and last one I see this winter.

On the feeders above the brambling there were bullfinch, chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch, siskin and redpoll!  So seven finches all in the garden at the same time.  Just a pity I couldn't get them all in the same photo.  Unlike the other finches the brambling didn't go on the feeders and didn't sit nicely on a branch or twig to have its photo taken.

Instead it dashed in for a few seeds and then flew off.  Perhaps its caution was justified - the feathers in the background of the top photos were from a pigeon taken by a sparrowhawk.  The brambling's colouring reminds me of the dazzle ships' camouflage in WW1.  I wonder if it  serves a similar purpose?

The brambling's scientific name is Fringilla montifringilla and Thomas Bewick called it the mountain finch.  He wrote "Great flocks of them sometimes come together, they fly very close, and on that account great numbers of them are frequently killed at one shot.".  And he noted "The flesh of the Mountain Finch, though bitter, is said to be good to eat, and better than that of the Chaffinch, but its song is much inferior, and is only a disagreeable kind of chirping.".  Here is Bewick's mountain finch, from A History of British Birds, published in 1797.

Bramblings are winter visitors (if we are lucky) from Fennoscandia and generally visit gardens only in late winter or early spring. The BTO Garden BirdWatch data show a recent increase in numbers after two very poor winters.

Bramblings can be found anywhere as they spread south and west looking for food.

Watch a BTO video on brambling ID here.    Listen to Chris Watson's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on bramblings here.

1 comment:

  1. Surprised to see the decent peak this winter as they've been conspicuous by their absence round here and as reported at the bird group we go to! But glad you've had one.