Last summer was the wettest for 100 years and wild grey partridges were one particular species that paid the price for the appalling wet conditions.
Although many young partridge chicks failed to survive, recent figures released by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) showed that there is still reason to be optimistic as the over-winter survival of adult birds was much better than expected.
However, this red-listed species, which has suffered a drastic decline of more than 86 per cent over the past 40 years, needs a considerable amount of positive management to ensure its future survival across the country.
Henrietta Appleton, the GWCT’s regional advisor for the north of England, explained, “We run a national count scheme for grey partridges and for Northumberland, Durham and Northern Dales, we have calculated that the region has the capacity to hold at least 10,788 pairs of grey partridges.
“Unfortunately, because of the poor spring this year only 563 pairs of partridges were counted, whereas in the previous spring of 2012 more than 1,311 pairs of greys were recorded.”
To help raise awareness about the plight of this iconic species and to encourage landowners, farmers and shoot managers to get involved in grey partridge recovery, the GWCT is holding a North East Grey Partridge Group farm walk on Thursday, October 3 at 12 noon at Melkington Farm near Cornhill by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Ronald Barber.
The farm is a shining local example of how a range of year-round habitat measures can make a difference to grey partridges. Mr Barber is passionate about building up his partridge population and as a result has provided a network of wildlife habitats such as conservation margins, wild bird seed mixes and over-winter stubbles. These not only help partridges, they are also beneficial for lapwing, skylark and tree sparrows. Habitat provision is supported by supplementary feeding and predator management to maximise breeding success and reduce losses during nesting and brood rearing.
Henrietta said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to see the art of the possible and we would like to showcase all the hard work that Mr Barber has initiated on his farm for the benefit of his greys.
“Partridges need all the help that they can get and we are hoping that many local farmers and game managers will attend the event and be inspired by what they see on Melkington farm.”
The event costs £15 each. To book email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01425 651013.