By Neville Kingdon, Partridge Count Scheme Co-ordinator
Feathers were all over the news last week, as the annual display of strange headwear, Royal Ascot, took place. But it was an important week for feathers of another kind, as it was ‘Peak Hatch’ for our native wild grey partridge (Perdix perdix).
This week, insects are in the spotlight as we celebrate National Insect Week. The tiny balls of grey partridge fluff may not be celebrating, though. Their survival in the fortnight after hatching depends on chick-food insect availability around ground level.
Some of our researchers are in the field, insect sampling, as we write – and the rain in Sussex is not making it easy. We fear that our late, wet spring means that insect numbers are low for many areas of the country, but how much will it impact on this year’s chick survival?
Over the last 50 years, numbers of these grey partridge have decreased nationally and their range has also reduced. So what can you do to help?
First in any solution is to know what you have. But there is one key action that you can take for 2017 – join the Partridge Count Scheme. Any farmer or land manager is encouraged to take part, and there is no minimum number of partridges you need – whether 2, 20 or 200.
We don’t just want to know about where large, healthy numbers already exist but especially those areas of land where wild greys are struggling, such as where numbers have been seen to decline over the past 10-20 years.
Get involved before it’s too late. In exchange for a few hours of your time to count your partridges twice a year, you will receive site-specific results and guidance based on your results to help you better understand what’s holding back numbers at crucial times of year.
If you have any wild greys on your ground, take an active interest in them by joining the Partridge Count Scheme. It is important for us to identify these areas and focus our efforts on expanding the current range.
Join the Partridge Count Scheme
Any farmers, landowners, land managers, keepers, etc who are interested in helping conserve grey partridge on their land are invited to take part by counting partridges and submitting their counts to our national database.
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