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Posted by Pete Woodruff. 
January 28, 2005 04:30PM
Eddy Bayton reported 45 Linnets at Salt Ayre on 11 Jan. I thought I had seen one from Jon Carter later than this, probably at Aldcliffe but cannot find it on the Forum in a quick search.

I believe the species to be under-recorded, alternatively, where are they?

Iv'e not seen a Linnet since last October, and have only ever see them in ones and twos for 'ages'. However, these two past records are worthy of note.

c.300 at Cockersands 14 April 2000.

c.200 at Salt Ayre Tip 12 September 2003.

Has the Linnet joined the ever growing 'missing' list?

Pete Woodruff.
Jon Carter
Re: Linnets.
January 28, 2005 04:51PM
Good point Pete. I know that PJM has flagged up on the forum the lack of local linnet this winter - where are they?
The only ones I've had lately at Aldcliffe have been in small numbers - from memory the maximum I've seen recently were 10.
It seems bizarre that there are larger twite flocks on the Lune than linnet at the moment - quite unthinkable a few years ago...
Re: Linnets.
January 28, 2005 05:53PM
Sunderland Point is usually a good site for Linnets. Go to Sambos Grave and carry on around the Point.
Re: Linnets.
January 28, 2005 10:26PM
In response to Pete Woodruff's comments about the apparent scarcity of Linnets in the LDBWS area during winter, the following quotes from 'The Migration Atlas' are of some relevance:

"Linnets are classic partial migrants. In Britain & Ireland, some remain in winter, while others move south or southwest to winter in a narrow longitudinal band from western France, through central Spain to Morocco."

"In Britain & Ireland, Linnets have a long breeding season extending from April to the end of August. Post-breeding dispersal and migratory movement is therefore spread over a long period, with most birds remaining close to their natal area until their fourth month after fledging."

"Given that Linnets depend primarily on the seeds of ruderal palnts as a food source, agricultural change has the potential to influence population movements as well as trends in abundance. Although the recent population trends in Britain are not correlated with changes in survival rate, as estimated from ring-recovery data, reductions in the availability of seed-rich stubbles could nevertheless have altered the movement patterns of Linnets and caused increases in the proportion of birds emigrating during the winter in recent decades".

In other words most of the Linnets in our area are actually 'summer migrants' and the trend is for more of them to winter further south. The variable, but typically small numbers remaining in mid-winter presumably reflect food supply with some years better than others. The large flocks Pete W noted in April 2000 and September 2003 are presumably a flock of returning migrants and a flock of locally bred birds respectively. Any three-figure mid-winter flock in the LDBWS area would get straight into the annual report (in fact ANY three-figure flock of Linnets would)!

Incidentally various other 'resident' passerines are really partial migrants that are not that easy to find in the LDBWS area in mid-winter as the current Winter Bird Survey has demonstrated. These include Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Goldcrest and Reed Bunting.

Pete Crooks
Re: Linnets.
January 29, 2005 03:16PM
Pete Crooks has done what I should have done before doing this posting....research.

However the subject has been dealt with short, sweet, and with a result. I now know -as everyone else who wasn't aware does - that the Linnet is a hard to come by species in winter in our region. It's suprising how you can fail to recognise something, until one day....

Eddy and Jon though, have proved that in fact they are there, but nationally declined by 55% between 1973 - 1998 (Crick et al. 2001).

Pete Woodruff.
Re: Linnets.
January 29, 2005 07:20PM
Lack of arable weeds has almost certainly exaggerated the exodus, and therefore the winter:summer ratios compared to earlier years. Thank goodness for ungrazed saltmarsh e.g. Ocean Edge - note the 13 from there on revised winter 10km totals

For exampl when Dennis Kellett left a knotgrass-infested stubble a few years ago, the Linnets remained for the winter, not just autumn passage birds.

In this respect, I think the winter:summer ratio is higher on the Fylde? Any comments?

I was surprised to see how many were frequenting the scattered roadside hawthorns adjoining upland pasture in the Lowgill area during the breeding season (c/p Atlas results). However, just look at the verges which are also superb for (common)butterflies (e.g. Silly Lane)
John Wood
Re: Linnets.
January 29, 2005 10:40PM
Therefore does anyone know what their food supply is when they begin to arrive back in March/April. Are seeds still an important part of their diet at this time? And if so where do they get them from if there havn't been enough to go round during winter?

Re: Linnets.
January 29, 2005 11:16PM
You will probably get a much more comprehensive reply than mine John.

However I can reply briefly by saying the Linnet relies largely on a diet of seed even when feeding young. The dependence of seeds, particularly those of agricultural weeds, leaves them vulnerable to the effects of agricultural change, especially herbicide use. Population declines in this country are attributed to the effects of agricultural change on seed availability.

Pete Woodruff.
Re: Linnets.
January 30, 2005 01:16AM
Used exactly those words on an EIA last week, Pete! The passage does not really begin up here until the last week of March. The off-passage birds at Heysham at this time (many are straight fly-overs)seem to feed in the intermittently mown, flower-rich grassland such as the NR car park/obs tower areas and also the south field on Ocean Edge caravan park. Chickweedy type stuff seems to be the target according to the quarter of a brain cell I devote to botany.
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