Game & Wildlife Glossary

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Agri-Environment Scheme (AES)
Government grants farmers or land managers can apply for to help support wildlife, habitats and the environment.

Ancient semi-natural woodlands
Areas of woodland that have been continuously wooded since 1600 in England and Wales, and since 1750 in Scotland

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation

Beetle bank
A raised earth bank constructed across the middle of large arable fields, sown with a mix of tussocky, perennial grasses, and disconnected from the existing field edges. This habitat provides ideal nesting cover for grey partridges, as well as overwintering sites for predatory, beneficial insects.
Useful reading: Beetle banks.

Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects are: pollinators, decomposers, chick-food insects and butterflies, as well as predatory insects that are the natural enemies of pest species, eating pests such as greenfly within crops and can therefore be beneficial to the farmer in controlling these.
Useful reading: Flower Power: A brief guide to encouraging beneficial insects using wildflowers

Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP)
A government program to identify and protect threatened species and habitats. The UK biodiversity action plan was published in 1994, as the UK’s response to the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Rio de Janero in 1992, and which the UK signed up to. Species and habitat lists were published in 1995 and 1999, and reports are published every three to five years looking at how the BAP is contributing to the UK’s progress towards reducing biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity assessment
The GWCT advisory service offers the shoot biodiversity assessment. They will thoroughly survey the shoot and the management methods in place, examine the game and wildlife and how it is managed, and give a confidential report with an action plan for future improvement for the shoot, and the biodiversity.
Useful reading: Shoot Biodiversity Assessments

Breeding success
The proportion of nests that successfully fledge at least one chick.

Brood survival
Whether chicks are present at 6 weeks post hatching or not.

Family group of young birds (or other young animals) produced at one hatching or birth.

A parent bird uses their wings or body to protect the chicks and keep them warm early in life when their own temperature regulation is not yet developed, and they are most vulnerable to the cold and wet.

British Trust for Ornithology

The eggs laid in a single brood by a nesting pair of birds. Clutch size = the number of eggs incubated in that nesting attempt.

Conservation Headland
A strip around the perimeter of an arable field that is treated with no or few herbicides and insecticides, and are often drilled more widely than the main cropped area to increase the space between rows and allow chicks to move through it more easily.  Conservation headlands are designed to provide insect-rich brood cover for the early weeks of life, when gamebird chicks need insect foods. They contain more arable weeds and wildflowers than the rest of the crop, provide chick food insects for game birds, and many benefits for other species.
Useful reading: Conservation headlands and field margins

Control (within an experiment)
An area which is not under treatment or investigation, but is the same in all other ways (or as similar as it can be, if that is not possible), which is studied to use as a baseline for comparison. This allows scientists to specifically identify the effect of whatever they are looking at.

The crow family of birds, that includes the carrion crow, hooded crow, raven, magpie, jackdaw, rook and jay.

A group of partridge (or grouse) – usually a family group, but sometimes with additional lone adults, which stay together through the summer and winter, breaking up in January or February into pairs, whereupon there is some dispersal.

The number of something in a given area. For example, ten birds per acre. For example, if ten birds are in a one-acre wood, the density is ten birds per acre. If ten birds are in a ten-acre wood, the density is lower – one bird per acre, although the number of birds is the same.

Exclosure cages
A cage to keep out certain animals, usually predators, thus protecting the inhabitant.

An area which is fenced off to protect from certain species, for example predators, by keeping them out.

The animal life in a particular region or area at a certain time.

The development of feathers and the ability to fly.

The plant life in a particular region or area at a certain time.

To drive the birds out of their cover.

Fodder crops
Crops that are planted to provide food for livestock.
Useful reading: Fodder brassicas

Game cover crops
Crops that are planted to provide gamebirds with food and shelter. These are not harvested as a crop but provide habitat for the gamebirds and other wildlife. 
Useful reading: Game Cover - Top of the Crops

Generalist predator
A predator which relys on a variety of food sources – different species, eggs, young, adults, and other sources (eg. Foxes feed on refuse). Specialist predators only eat one particular species as their food source, generalist predators are more opportunistic and utilise many sources/species.

The type of environment in which plants and animals live. The term includes the characteristics of the whole area, including plants, other animals, food supply, physical characteristics etc.
Useful reading: Habitats

Feed containers usually steel or plastic barrels, usually filled with wheat, designed to allow easy access for gamebirds.
Useful reading: Feed to help them breed

Hungry Gap
The period in late winter and early spring when food is very scarce for birds. During this time, supplementary food can be particularly important.
Useful reading: Boosting biodiversity - feeding birds in the ‘hungry gap’

Improved grassland
Areas of grassland that have been improved for livestock, by grazing, mowing, sowing with desirable grass species, drainage or treatment with fertilizers or herbicides. Agricultural improvement usually results in decreased diversity of the grassland plants and dominance by a few quick-growing grasses.

Indicator species
A particular species that reflects the overall health of a wider group or species or an environment as a whole.

Invasive (non-native) species
Aspecies that is not native to a particular ecosystem and causes harm. They tend to reproduce quickly and spread rapidly. 

Invertebrate community
The range and mix of invertebrates found in a particular area.

Invertebrates are animals that do not have a backbone. This includes a very wide variety of creatures, for example: insects, spiders, molluscs (snails, slugs, many sea creatures), crustaceans (crabs, lobsters etc), worms, jellyfish and many more. The majority of animals are invertebrates; in fact, some estimates suggest the proportion is as high as 97% of species.
Useful reading: Invertebrates

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.

An unpredictable flight from side-to-side when flushed exhibited by certain birds such as woodcock. 

Keystone species
A species which has a larger than expected effect on the environment in which it lives. These species play a critical role in maintaining the structure of the ecological community in the area – and can determine the types and numbers of other species present. Ecosystems can undergo a dramatic change if such a species is removed, even though it may have only made up a small part of the community. A keystone species is a plant or animal that plays a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions. Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.

Lead-in strips
Sections of cover crop planted to provide a channel of cover, and so avoid gamebirds using hedges as corridors to get to and from their release pens.

Species producing a seed such as peas/beans/pulses. These include clover, peas, alfalfa, lentils and many others. Legumes are important because they contain bacteria in root nodules that can capture nitrogen and “fix” it, which allows it to be returned to the soil. Most crops deplete nitrogen in the soil, so this can help renewal of soil nutrients in crop rotation.

Marking birds
Watching where a shot bird lands to ensure it is found and retrieved as quickly as possible. 

Natural England. The government’s adviser for the natural environment in England, helping to protect England’s nature and landscapes for people to enjoy and for the services they provide.

Nest survival
For species whose chicks leave the nest shortly after hatching, such as game birds and waders, nest survival is the probability of a nest successfully hatching at least one chick.

National Gamebag Census.

National Gamekeepers’ Organisation

Any bird of the family Passeriformes. More than half of bird species are included in this group, including (and most commonly referred to in our documents) the so-called “songbirds”. Passeriformes have a distinctive arrangement of toes, with three pointing forwards and one backwards, which facilitates perching.

Partridge Count Scheme.

Treatment to remove pests – the term pesticide includes three groups of chemical: herbicides, which kill groups of weeds; insecticides, which kill groups of insects: and fungicides, to control fungal infections.

A person with a trained gundog which locates and picks up game when it is shot.

Young gamebirds. Pheasant poults are generally bought at 6-8 weeks old, and red-legged partridges at 11-13 weeks. 

The number of young produced per pair.

Birds of prey. Raptors hunt and feed on rodents and other animals and include eagles, vultures, buzzards, kites, harriers, owls and others.

Release pen
Pheasants: A large, open-topped pen sited in woodland where pheasant poults are placed while they adapt to their environment. Partridge: Smaller, closed-topped pens, usually sited on open farmland, to hold partridges.
Useful reading: Release pens

Residual grass
Grass that is left from the year before or dead grass that can provide good nesting cover for grey partridges.

The breeding display flight of woodcock, which is performed by the males between April and June. They fly over woodland at tree-top height with rapid wingbeats, whilst making a unique low, croaking call. 
Useful reading: Breeding woodcock

A place where birds settle to sleep. Though it is widely perceived that birds roost in trees, as with pheasants, some birds roost on the ground, as with partridges, or on water, as with mallard.

Scrapes are shallow depressions filled with water that are dug in fields to benefit wading birds and wildfowl. 
Useful reading: How to make scrapes for bees

Shelter belt
A line of trees or shrubs planted to protect an area, especially woodland, from wind and weather.

Site of Special Scientific Interest, an area designated to protect a particular species or habitat.

Supplementary feed
Additional feed, usually grain, provided by the gamekeeper to supplement the food that gamebirds can forage for in the countryside.
Useful reading: Guidelines for successful gamebird and songbird feeding (PDF)

Grassy surface of land, eg in a pasture or meadow. A short sward would be produced by heavy grazing, and a long sward when growing for hay production.

Topping up
The practice of releasing additional birds throughout the season to replace those already shot. 
Useful reading: Code of Good Shooting Practice

A straight line or narrow section through an object or natural feature or across the earth's surface, along which observations are made or measurements taken.

Plant life growing beneath the woodland canopy.

Unimproved habitat
Areas that have not been ploughed, sown, treated with pesticides, or had fertilizer spread.

Plant matter, usually referring to what grows in a particular area as a whole, without reference to species etc.

Voluntary restraint
Shoots or Guns not shooting something that is a legal quarry species through their own choice, rather than being prevented from doing so by legislation. 

Group of birds most of whom spend parts of their life wading in the shallow waters of the sea, estuaries and lakes. They are referred to as “shorebirds” in America.
Useful reading: Wader Research

Wild bird mix
Seed mixes that include a range of species known to be attractive to, or provide good food resources for, wild birds. When sown as cover crops these can provide many benefits to farmland birds as well as gamebirds.
Useful reading: Wild bird seed mixture