Chris Thwaites’s picture of a goldfinch, left and a linnet on the bird feeder in his garden.
GARDENING IT USED to be one of those defining sights of a holiday in the Peloponnese.
When Greek men were not shooting all that flies, their womenfolk hung birds outside in their impossibly small domed cages.
And, in the sunlight, the captives would come alive, at least at the sight and taste of freedom.
Most of the cage birds were carduelis cannabina, the males chosen for their showy plumage of great contrast and they and the female of the species for their melodious song.
The sound of this beautiful little finch would brighten the scruffiest of streets.
In this country, they fly free and are known as the linnet.
They are now classified by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds as having red status — the highest conservation priority, with the species needing urgent action to preserve and enhance numbers.
But on the Island I have received several reports this charming little bird is again becoming a regular garden visitor. Last year, people contacted me to say quite large numbers had been seen on the downs to the west of the Island and at Niton.
Closer to home, my old photographer friend Chris Thwaites took some wonderful shots of linnets visiting his bird feeder, counting up to seven in his garden at any one time.
Not like the flocks of old, before farming became so intensive that it started to squeeze out so many seed eaters, but, nonetheless, a sight that cheers up any garden.
I am told by the RSPB that, in the 38 years up to 2008, the population has dropped by 57 per cent and continues to spiral.
Hopefully, it’s a different tale on the Island.