Return of the bramblings

Another Christmas was over, full of delicious food, fabulous presents and wonderful family. Of course the first thing we do once the family has returned to the mother-land (in this case Wales) is to get up before dawn (not too much of an issue at this time of year) and head out ringing. Sunshine and breezey, not the best combination for ringing but good enough to see what the Farm has to offer.

Turns out that finally the bramblings have returned to the feeders. With the mild winter thus far many of the finches that make this such a special site have stayed away, feeding in the wider landscape of the forest. With food finally starting to dwindle large numbers had returned to the feeders in the garden of the Farm, with the walk in trap in particular working effectively to catch these beautiful birds.

We know bramblings breed in Scandinavia and Northern Russia, and then migrate south to the UK and southern Europe for winter. We have even caught a bird in the past with a Norwegian ring on it… But when they migrate which routes do they take? Do birds coming to the UK, and our Farm in particular, cross over to Scotland and then south? Or do they fly down through Europe before heading over the North Sea? And once again, ringing is helping to solve the puzzle.

Male brambling originally ringed in Helgoland, Germany

Today among the 15 or so bramblings we caught, one, just one had a ring on that read Helgoland. Helgoland, a small group of islands located off the coast of Germany with their own ringing scheme. At some point in the recent past (OK I sound like a Doctor Who episode now!) someone on that group of islands caught a male brambling, either on its way south for the winter or returning north to breed. Now, on a mild, breezey, sunny winters day that very bird was caught in our trap in a Suffolk garden!


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