The trees at the end of my road are laden with bright red berries and for the last few days I've been popping along each lunchtime in the hope of seeing some winter thrushes, redwings and fieldfares, or if we're lucky some waxwings. It's a given that the thrushes will arrive every year but the waxwings are hit and miss and dependent upon the berry crop and weather in their home regions. There are some visitors every year but some years there can be a huge influx if the berries fail or the weather is particularly harsh.
So far no thrushes or waxwings but earlier this week I was delighted to see about a dozen bramblings feasting on the berries. I've only ever seen one before mixed in with a flock of chaffinches and at some distance. These were so intent on gorging on the berries that they weren't in the slightest bit interested in me snapping away.
Bramblings generally arrive toward the end of September and stay till March. Like the waxwings the numbers arriving depend on the food supply at home and in Europe beech mast is their food of choice. They are similar in size and shape to a chaffinch but have bolder orange colouration and a white rump.
They generally feed on seed so to see them devouring the berries is not a common sight. They will stay around until the food source is gone and they will then move South as the weather worsens. They will feed in gardens and can be spotted on the feeders particularly if you have chaffinches visiting. Scatter seeds and peanut chips on your bird table and keep your fingers crossed.
So while I wait to see if the waxwings arrive these Winter visitors will certainly help cheer up the grey days and keep me staring up at the berries!