Country Corner with George Hogg

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Some winters see more of particular winter visitors than others.

This winter so far has seen large influxes of Fieldfare, Waxwing and Pinkfooted Geese.

However, there is another winter visitor which is in particularly good numbers this time, though easy to overlook.

Wherever Chaffinches gather at grain and seed feeds, look out for the bonny wee Brambling.

The name is a bit of a misnomer as far as Scotland is concerned as the birds arrive long after brambles have fallen and rotted.

Though they may appear similar enough to their cousins to pass unseen among feeding Chaffinches, there is one obvious giveaway.

Bramblings have glaringly obvious white rumps which instantly give away their presence as a flock flies around.

In Abbie’s photo, taken from her window and making me green with envy, the two central finches and the rear left one are Bramblings. By coincidence, I was trying to photograph Bramblings just before Abbie sent me this shot, but time and light were both fading so I had to move on.

Those ones were industriously turning over wet leaf litter under some roadside beech trees in search of fallen beech nuts.

Though traffic is usually a threat to birds, in this case it helps as beech mast falling on the road is ground down by car tyres, then thrown onto the verge by later traffic.

Ground up beech nuts are much more attractive to finches than the large, hard, intact ones.

Some winters I may see no Bramablings at all. This may be due to their northern homelands being mild enough or rich enough in food supplies to retain them. Alternatively, if both their homelands and Scotland are under enough snow, the birds may just keep going, to winter in the softer gulf stream weather of southern Ireland.

This winter however, Bramblings are being reported all over the Lothians and your chances of meeting them are good.

Just look out for those white flashes.

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