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About Me

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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

06 July, 2016

Linnet: stubble and squeak

It seems that every time I feature a bird in my nature notes I am obliged to comment that they are, sadly, "far less common than they once were". Well, here I go again! The linnet (Carduelis cannabina) was a once common bird in wild, open countryside. Maybe not seen as often as many species but in the right habitat one used to encounter large flocks of them; that is now not the case. 
In many ways the linnet is just another "little brown job" as my photograph might imply but a male bird seen full frontal has a lovely rosy coloured chest and forehead which makes it easily identified. Confusion with its close cousin, the twite, is possible but the twite is very uncommon in Dorset to the point that it is hardly ever recorded here.
Like all finches the linnet is primarily a seed eater and can be seen in Dorset mainly in winter in small flocks on thistle heads and feeding on the ground where seeds may have fallen. It was once common feeding amongst corn stubble but that is never seen now that the fields are planted and sewn with winter wheat almost as soon as the harvest has finished. The decline of corn stubble matches the decline of the linnet and other seed feeding birds.
It you are lucky enough to see one in spring the linnet has a lovely song and in Mediterranean areas they are kept in cages as song birds.
Linnet: stubble and squeak