Saturday, January 26, 2019

Brambling Bonanza

With little local news, here’s a story for birders who like to hone their counting skills with massed waders; or flocks of finches perhaps? 

After good autumn counts of Bramblings on migration through the UK there were hopes that the better than average numbers might herald a “Brambling Winter”, a winter when Bramblings become relatively common.

It wasn't to be as the counts fizzled out and sightings of Bramblings broke few if any records, at least in the UK. My own autumn and winter count troubled a single handful of fingers.


Another Bird Blog featured the Brambling phenomenon in November 2018, but now there’s a follow-up to the story. 

Recent counts in Slovakia suggest that as is often the case, and despite the hopes of UK birders, many Bramblings have remained in Northern and Eastern Europe where as normal they exploited crops of beech and hornbeam. 

Cut to the TV News of recent weeks where heavy snowfall in Europe north of the Alps brought huge snow drifts, deadly avalanches and a degree of chaos to everyday life. 

Large falls of snow covered much of the Bramblings’ food supplies with the result that they fled south beyond the Alps and into Slovenia in search of new food supplies. During this time Slovenia remained relatively snow-free as newly arrived Bramblings homed in on the Zasavje area. It was here that other Bramblings had already found good feeding amongst carpets of beechmast following a heavy seed crop during a productive summer. 

Counts in recent days and weeks by Tomaž Mihelič and the other Slovene ornithologists of the country’s DOPPS - BirdLife Slovenia (Društvo za opazovanje in proučevanje ptic Slovenije) realised a count of between 2 to 5 million Bramblings in beech woods along the River Sava, a tributary of the Danube. 

 Bramblings, Slovenia (© Tomaž Mihelič)

Bramblings, Slovenia (© Tomaž Mihelič)

The counts showed a minimum of 2 million but probably as many as 5 million Bramblings, all contained in an area of about 100 square kms, a number representing a sizeable chunk of the whole European population. Every night the Bramblings packed into a stand of trees covering just 5 hectares (a circle about 250 metres in diameter). The exact site of the roost is not revealed so as to prevent disturbance, but it has drawn crowds of locals to watch each evening.

Stop press. With fresh snowfall around, latest counts suggest up to a staggering 10 million Bramblings. 


Looks like we in the UK will have to postpone our Brambling Winter to another year.

Linking today to Anni's Birding Blog and Eileen's Saturday Blog.


Rhodesia said...

Wow, the video is amazing, thank goodness we are still in the UK where I have enough speed to watch videos. It reminds me of a swarm of locusts it is so thick and intense. I would love to see this, fantastic. Have a good weekend, Diane

Margaret Adamson said...

WOW! Phil that is amazing

David Gascoigne said...

Hi Phil: I am away in Costa Rica right now and will only be home in two weeks. I will get caught up with your blog then. Un abrazo desde Playa del Coco, CR!

Anu said...

Hello Phil.
Wow . 10 million bramblings.
Here in Finland are nesting about 1,8 million pair of ramblings. It is a beautiful bird.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, what an amazing sight to be see, so many Bramblings in one tree. I can not imagine seeing 2 million of them. I guess that means the Brambling are doing well with such high numbers. Wonderful photos and videos.
Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend.

Judy Biggerstaff said...

Amazing video of the flight of the Brambling. They must be doing ok with such a huge flock of them.

sandyland said...

videos enchanting

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. It's something that interests us all as bird lovers. Happy weekend!

Anni said...

Those numbers, tho, are just astounding!! A Brambling Winter, I like the sound of that...maybe the 2019 year/winter months will be for the UK

It's terrific that you shared all this with us at I'd Rather B Birdin this week...thanks.

Jenn Jilks said...

Wow. That is amazing. We don't hear of your bird news, for the most part, in N.A. Thanks for the info!
(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

Stewart M said...

Those flocks in the news are remarkable - I'd love to see them. It's been a while since I have seen even one Brambling!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Amazing numbers and I love the sharing of info between blogs.

NC Sue said...

Wow - amazing how dense their flocks are!
Thanks for sharing at

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Utterly amazing!

Rose said...

What a large number of birds!!!!

Angie said...

Phil - gob-smacked I am, to say the least. What a creature will do to find food! Thanks for sharing this terrific phenomenon (although I know it does not meet your expectations for a Brambling Winter).

Jeanna said...

Holy cow that's a lot in one place I hope they find food. That's a mighty handsome bird. I was going to stop by our local supply store and get something for the birds to eat in all this ice and snow but my car died. I wish I at least had seeds for them in the cupboard.

Lowcarb team member said...

This is simply amazing.
I don't know a lot about this bird, but I enjoyed your post, photographs and video.

The weather here in the UK has turned quite nasty, apparently tomorrow has been nicknamed 'Whiteout Wednesday'!
Bring on the soup :)

All the best Jan

KB said...

Cute little bird

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