This is a beech mast year
Slaley, Northumberland
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picture of a mistle thrush

THIS IS A BEECH MAST YEAR Most winters I only see a handful of bramblings. Occasionally not even that. Bramblings are the northern equivalent of our chaffinches. They breed in Scandinavia and move south and south-west for the winter. Beech Mast Year and Brambling Year are one and the same. Bramblings will travel long distances to feast on beech mast as it is by far their favourite food. Beech mast is very nutritious and although also high in potassium, it doesn’t seem to effect the birds as it does in humans causing headaches and dizziness – or is that cheap wine? Look for bramblings under mature beech trees. They are often in mixed flocks with chaffinches but easily separated when they fly up by their white rumps. Bramblings do come into gardens to visit feeding stations as the winter progresses after the beech mast has dried up. It is documented that in a particularly good beech mast year during the winter of 1951-52, in Switzerland a flock of 70 million bramblings was seen. You would notice that.

Colin Jewitt.

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