Spring Migrants: Linnets

Ok, so a Linnet is perhaps not what you might think of as a spring migrant, but they do in fact move south-west in the wintertime, and some UK birds may even move to France and Iberia for the winter, just the same as our Chiffchaffs. There are approximately 35 pairs on the island, although this varies year to year. This year we have over 200 Linnets on the island at the moment, although how many of these will go on to breed. This species is in decline in the UK, listing its conservation status as Red. Linnets can live up to eight years, and their name may perhaps stem from their old scientific name of Linarius cannabina. The meaning of this can be translated as Linarius= linen weaver and cannabina= hemp. A cool name which has unfortunately changed now that it is Carduelis cannabina. I have been photographing the island’s Linnets on and off for the last few weeks, especially when the females were busy gathering nesting material….first bits of dried grass and twigs, then the hair of cows and sheep, and then wool to line their little gorse-dwelling.

Male Linnet beginning to show through with its handsome red

Female Linnets collecting nesting material It was interesting to note that, despite travelling around in pairs to collect material, the males never seemed to participate in the gathering- it was always the females that stuffed their beaks full of whatever, and then flew back to the next to construct the nest

Two days ago I decided to set up my small photographic hide near a pool along the track. Many of the Linnets were coming down to bathe and drink in this puddle at the heat of the day, which made for some good photographic opportunities:

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