The na­ture of things

Lin­net and red­poll

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook - Il­lus­tra­tion by Bill Dono­hoe

THAT chatty and tune­ful lit­tle finch, whose chest is softly smudged with a rosy-crim­son waist­coat, is most likely a male lin­net in his breed­ing plumage. For­merly abun­dant al­most ev­ery­where (and, in olden days, a pop­u­lar caged bird), their UK pop­u­la­tion has fallen steeply since the 1970s, since wide­spread use of her­bi­cides on crop weeds and au­tumn crop sow­ings have re­duced their sur­vival op­por­tu­ni­ties. Some help has been at hand, how­ever, as lin­nets have found a life­line in bird feed­ers and ny­jer seeds.

Nest­ing is usu­ally low down, among pro­tec­tive gorses, bram­bles, ivy or other shrubby ma­te­rial, where the nest of tightly wo­ven grass and twigs nur­tures a clutch of light-blue eggs with red­dish speck­les. (The coun­try names of gorse thatcher and furze lin­net re­fer to the bird’s res­i­den­tial pref­er­ences.)

Lin­nets (top right, bot­tom right) and red­polls can be very dif­fi­cult to tell apart, both hav­ing sea­sonal dabs of crim­son on their fore­heads and chests; of­ten, how­ever, it will be eas­i­est to con­sider their lo­ca­tion and time of year. ‘Lesser’ red­polls (top left, bot­tom left) spend much of their time up in the trees— es­pe­cially lik­ing birch and alder—and are more preva­lent in the North, Scot­land and Wales; the slightly larger ‘com­mon’ red­polls are chiefly win­ter vis­i­tors and ac­tu­ally quite scarce. KBH

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.