The brambling is a bird we all look out for each autumn but in recent years they have been harder to find. Last year I saw only one, here in the garden. This year there has been none in the garden. These birds were at Wallington last week.
Male bramblings have grey heads in the winter but some are already turning black for their breeding colours.
Females are less jazzy with softer browns and greys.
Brambling numbers vary from winter to winter but this hasn't been a good year. I suppose it depends a lot on the weather and the food supply in Scandinavia. This graph shows garden sightings in the North East. Bramblings mainly move into gardens late in winter to take advantage of bird feeders.
Bramblings breed mostly in Scandinavia and in Russia. This map is from the EBCC Atlas.
The brambling was known to Thomas Bewick as the mountain finch. Its binomial name is still Fringilla montifringilla.
Archibald Thorburn painted a male brambling with a pair of chaffinches
You can watch a BTO video on identification of chaffinch and brambling here. Read more about bramblings here. And listen to Chris Watson's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day here.