There hadn’t been many Bramblings reported in the UK never mind Hampshire although on social media I had seen photographs of mind-blowingly huge flocks in Slovenia with more than five million Bramblings in one flock with the flock so dense that individual birds were almost touching each other.
I had planned to visit Acres Down as a good place for Firecrest in the winter and checking Going Birding Hampshire News I saw that 150 Bramblings had been reported at Highland Water Inclosure and, fortunately, the nearest place to park would be Acres Down Car Park!
Just after first light I began looking for Firecrests, I could hear lots of crests but finding them and getting a view of the head was tricky. After 30 minutes or so I decided I would try to find the Brambling flock, it would be a 20-minute walk.
Crossbill and Lesser Redpoll were calling overhead and I watched a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming. After a few hundred yards I came across a flock of Chaffinches flicking up leaves from the forest floor looking for beech mast. Soon I glimpsed a lovely black and orange male Brambling. I set up the scope, took off my gloves and started to make a few sketches. In total I managed to find two males and two females.
On the way back to the car I stopped to look for Firecrest again. I played an excerpt from their song on my phone and pretty soon a crest came down to investigate. As it flicked onto a lower branch I immediately saw the lovely golden shoulder patch and the striking eye stripe and supercilium.
I then headed to Keyhaven hoping to see Water Pipit and Red-throated Diver