After 10 years the GWCT’s demonstration shoot at Rotherfield Park Estate in Hampshire came to an end in February. The aim of the shoot was to show how grey partridges and wider farmland biodiversity could be restored alongside running a pheasant shoot. Under the management of Malcolm Brockless who has recently retired, we were able to provide around a dozen shoot days each season comprising walked-up, walk/stand and full driven days. During this period farmland songbirds increased significantly, and grey partridges increased from zero to the high point where a sustainable harvest of wild partridges was achieved in one of the years. The project is now being written up as a case study and we will report on this in future issues. Our wider grey partridge demonstration work on the estate through the EU Interreg PARTRIDGE project continues. We are hugely grateful to our very generous hosts, the Scott family, for their vision and unstinting support throughout the project.
Allerton Project Shoot, Loddington
Writing this in April, during the Covid-19 lockdown, our shooting season seems uncertain. However, we have ordered our birds and Matt Coupe is carrying out predator control to maintain our long-standing monitoring of the benefits predator control can deliver for wider wildlife. Although some shoots have decided not to shoot, we have taken the view that we hope to proceed as normal. If that is not to be, then we will strive to salvage as much of the season as possible. Understandably people have been in touch asking what they should do. Our suggestion is to proceed as normal, but perhaps at a scale at which you would be happy to accept that worst case scenario may mean no shooting at all. For larger shoots, I suspect this means scaling back to smaller days with fewer birds released. The take home message being that if we want the gun shops, game farmers, feed suppliers, hostelries etc to be there for us in 2021, then we need to support them as much as possible through this difficult time.
GWSDF Auchnerran Shoot
Following another successful shooting season at Auchnerran, we have begun planning this year’s ‘Alba mix’ game crops, again with the much appreciated support of Kings Crops. This will be carefully co-ordinated with the research team so we don’t destroy wader nests in the plots.
We hope to expand our wild pheasant shoot over the next couple of years and are planning to better nurture and exploit the stock that is present, firstly with an expanded hopper feeding regime