Extreme cold weather in winter can mean the normal order of bird life in our countryside can get turned on its head and almost anything can happen. It is possible to find unexpected species almost anywhere including gardens of course. So it was a while back when, in a particularly cold snap, this little chap turned up in our garden, a lone brambling (Fringilla montifringilla).
The brambling is very closely related to the chaffinch and is very common in the conifer forests of Scandinavia where chaffinches do not breed. The brambling is believed to have successfully bred in Scotland in the past but they are very much a winter visitor to here in Dorset. Although related to, and do resemble in appearance the chaffinch they are quite distinctive and easily told apart.
Bramblings are a bit like waxwings in that some years we get virtually none at all and then in other years there are masses of them. They do seem to be more common when the weather is bad further north and food gets in short supply.
This one I photographed in our garden looks a bit bewildered and is not quite sure what way to go next! He didn't stay long.