The first half of February this year was unusually cold in northern Europe. Temperatures down to minus 20 degrees Celsius forced many bird species to move southwards. This year I noticed a large influx of both Bramblings and Siskins into our tiny alpine village.
The Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus) has an unusual migration pattern as every few years in winter they migrate southwards in large numbers.
The reasons for this behavior are not known but may be related to climatic factors and above all the availability of food. In this way overwintering populations can thrive where food is abundant.
The Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) is almost entirely migratory. In Europe, it forms large flocks in the winter, sometimes with thousands or even millions of birds in a single flock.
Both the Siskins and Bramblings competed actively around the garden feeders with those species which remain resident throughout the year.
These species include Chaffinches, Greenfinches, House Sparrows, Blackbirds, Great Tits, Bluetits, Crested Tits, Coal Tits, Blackbirds and Robins.