An article published in yesterday’s Guardian implicates grouse moor management as being partly responsible for a massive population decline in Twite, a small bird also known as the ‘Pennine Finch’.
Researchers are concerned that this species is on the brink of extinction in England due to a combination of factors including less wild seed in upland meadows, climate change and the loss of tall heather in uplands, resulting in Twite nesting in bracken where they appear to be more easily preyed on by stoats and weasels.
According to research undertaken by PhD student Jamie Dunning, in the Twite’s core area of the south Pennines large areas of grouse moor are unsuitable for the birds because the moors are burnt and the heather is not allowed to grow tall enough for Twite to nest in it.
It’s a fascinating article about a poorly-known species that scientists and conservationists at the RSPB and Natural England are trying to rescue. The article is available in full here.