You are here


A passage migrant and an occasional winter visitor to Dorset in extreme weather

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

The brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) is one of those species like waxwing, crossbill, hawfinch and so on that occur in Dorset in most winters but usually in small numbers and then occasionally there is an irruption and large flocks arrive. Closely related to chaffinches they often join chaffinch flocks when here and if you encounter a large flock of chaffinches then it worth looking to see if there are brambling amongst them. A northern European breeding species they migrate south in autumn with many going into southern and western Europe for the colder months of the year. 

There have only been about 60 reports of brambling in each of the years since the Nature of Dorset database of records started in January 2017 and the bulk of these reports come during weeks 42 to 46 in late October and early November which is a reflection of the southerly movement of birds in autumn passing through Dorset. There are then a small and variable number of records throughout the winter until week 15 around the end of April. There is no evidence of spring migration back through Dorset northwards so they must go by a different route!

They can be seen almost anywhere in Dorset, in years of irruptions they can quite readily appear in gardens at feeding stations. Most records, though, come from Portland, Arne and the Bridport area where migrating birds can be seen feeding prior to making the trip across the Channel to more southerly climes.

If you need brambling for your Dorset list you have to keep watch during the autumn for signs the migration season is under way and then be ready to act if a flock is reported somewhere.


Common Name Brambling
Scientific Name Fringilla montifringilla
Species Group Birds Finches and Buntings
Status Scarce
Interest Level
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
Look for

A bird that looks a bit like a chaffinch but is obviously not!

Identification Notes
  • Its colouration can not really be confused with any species other than the much our native chaffinch
  • Closely related to the chaffinch small numbers sometimes join chaffinch flocks in winter for protection 
  • Seen mainly in Autumn on migration but in some years arriving in considerable numbers during he winter months   
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Finches and Buntings