Our delightful Scandinavian garden surprise

Brambling: This species has made a first-ever appearance at Grace Corne's bird feeders. Picture: Ric

Brambling: This species has made a first-ever appearance at Grace Corne's bird feeders. Picture: Richard Woodhouse/citizenside - Credit: citizenside.com

Grace Corne has some unexpected visitors to her bird table.

It was strange, but two days after Christmas the birds began to sing. It had been wet and miserable but suddenly there was a constant twittering and it would have been tempting to think that spring was just around the corner. It is the goldfinches which have increased in numbers at an extraordinary rate. There is a constant demand for sunflower hearts and they are responsible for most of the song in the mornings. They tend to be rather argumentative although they rarely argue with the greenfinches.

Suddenly we noticed something odd. At first sight it seemed that the chaffinches had completely changed their habits and they, too, were scrambling for the sunflowers. This did not seem right as the chaffinches have only ever taken food from the ground. As we watched we realised that although these birds bore a passing resemblance to a chaffinch they were much more brightly coloured and where the chaffinches had a rosy-pink colouration these birds were almost orange and their rumps were conspicuously white. For the first time ever we were looking at bramblings and they have now become a welcome addition to 'our bird family.' It is probable they have come in from Scandinavia and no doubt they will have closely inspected the surrounds of the beech trees to see if any fallen beech mast remains.

One little visitor which has not been so common lately is the coal tit. I am wondering if this has anything to do with the increase in the number of goldfinches as the coal tit is not a particularly bold little bird.

Quite by accident we discovered something else about the birds. We purchased a bird bath with a separate 'bowl' top which we intended to cement on when in position. We rested the top on to see how the birds reacted and they showed very little interest. Then one of the farm cats decided he wanted to drink from the bath and in so doing knocked the bowl to the ground. As it lay there it was suddenly covered in birds. Starlings and blackbirds were forming a queue to bath and the smaller birds were waiting their turn. It was obvious the birds had made their choice and so the bowl will remain on the floor.