Distribution Britain 651 (-1.1%) Ireland 60 (-52.8%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 65,000 Ireland 3,500
European status: 300,000 (24% in Britain and Ireland =2)
British population trend: probably declining
How likely are you to record it? 47 squares (1.0%) Ranked 115 [88=]
The mountain version of the Linnet, this species was (and probably is) much confused with it. However at the end of the 19th century the bird was widely distributed through all Scotland, through northern England and south to Derbyshire, the Isle of Man and much of Ireland. It was absent from most lowland farming areas preferring rocky and upland sites and was particularly common around the coasts of northern Scotland and on the Outer Isles. In Ireland there seems to have been a general decline and contraction in range over the last 80 years with 50% reduction in 10-km squares occupied between the two Breeding Atlases. It is now almost wholly confined to the West and North coasts. In Britain the birds retreated northwards and gradually became restricted, when at all numerous, to north and west of the Great Glen. For a time none bred in the southern uplands of Scotland although there were some left on the Solway shore. In England they were in Devon for a short while but were lost from the Isle of Man and became restricted to the Southern Pennines and the peak District. However the second Breeding Atlas showed some improvement but breeding densities in the core area have decreased and nest failures (NRS) have increased. Detailed studies show that they lose out when heather moorland becomes grass dominated. The losses in Ireland are particularly worrying but they may be just about holding their own elsewhere.
Brown, A.F., Crick, H.Q.P. & Stillman, R.A. 1995 Bird Study 42, 107-121.
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead