26/1/2021

GWCT Isle of Wight Bulletin

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Welcome to the latest bulletin from the Isle of Wight group of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.

The role of the County Group is threefold; fundraising, as this is the most important source of research funds for the Trust, membership, generating new members through the organisation of events and awareness, through locally run functions such as bringing friends along to talk to other like-minded people.

As Regional Organiser for the Isle of Wight my role is to assist and support with the events and being the main source of information on all aspects of the Trust’s activities.

Contact details

Fleur Fillingham
Tel: 07860 879377
Email: ffillingham@gwct.org.uk

In this bulletin

Diary of Events planned for 2021

  • Spring: Grey partridge & Farmland Bird Day
  • June: Shoot Walk & Conversation
  • September: Golf fun day, supper & auction

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Farmer Clusters & Future Farmland Conservation on IoW

The Isle of Wight has vast potential for farmland wildlife recovery. Land managers should be at the helm
of this essential work, and they can be if they get the support and the funding that they need. This is
where ‘farmer clusters’ come in – land managers joining together with neighbours to form a supportive
network, accessing funding and training, whilst working alongside partners such as GWCT and IW AONB
to deliver conservation on the ground. The benefits of being in a cluster are threefold: environmental,
economic, and social. For more info, see www.farmerclusters.com.

We have one farmer cluster on the Island, centred on the East Yar River. Covering 1,800ha, the project
involves 10 farmers united by concern for the water quality of the river and the wildlife on their farms.
Priority species include turtle dove, kingfisher, water vole, brown trout & hedgehog. We would love to
help create more farmer clusters, with interest already forming in the Newtown and Atherfield areas.
For more information contact GWCT Farmland Biodiversity Advisor, Jessica Brooks jbrooks@gwct.org.uk.

Big Farmland Bird Count: 5-14 February 2021

To take part, participants need to:

  • download a count sheet from the BFBC website
  • spend 30 minutes between 5 and 14 February recording the species and number of birds they see on one area of their land
  • submit their results via the website for analysis by the GWCT

GP Pair Dusting

Can you tell us about grey partridges on the Isle of Wight?

The GWCT has collected information on the distribution, abundance and breeding success of grey
partridges in Britain since 1933, through a voluntary initiative called the Partridge Count Scheme.

Sadly, we know very little about the status of these enigmatic birds on the Isle of Wight, as only a
handful of dedicated Island-based grey partridge enthusiasts contribute to our national monitoring
scheme. Historically, we know wild greys were found right across the Island, but the few records we
have mustered show them to have declined steeply, mirroring population trends across Europe.

The Island’s diverse landscape suits grey partridges. They belong on the chalk downs, the light fertile
soils of the Arreton Valley and the windswept southwest coastal plain. Thanks to sterling
conservation work and sympathetic management on one landholding in the West Wight, we know
that wild greys are thriving on at least one farm, but the Islands rural landscape has room for many
more birds, and simply releasing game farm reared grey partridges is not the way to do it. In fact, it
can harm the wild population by watering down crucial survival skills.

With changes to UK agricultural policy and the pending introduction of the new Environmental Land
Management Scheme (ELMS) the future of grey partridges on the Island rests firmly in the hands of
individuals on the ground, through the management measures they can implement. The GWCT has a
long history of helping people to bring wild greys back, but we can only do that by harnessing
enthusiasm.

So, we ask any farmers, landowners, land managers, gamekeepers, etc who are interested in grey
partridges to take part in our Partridge Count Scheme, by counting partridges this coming Spring,
and submitting records to our national database. Please do not be deterred by thoughts of… “We
haven’t got any grey partridges on our ground, so there’s no point in counting.” Well, yes there is.

We are just as eager to know where there are no grey partridges, as where there are grey partridges,
and this crucial knowledge will help steer any future attempts to recover wild greys on the Island.
Coronavirus restrictions permitting, we are hoping to run several local events this year, including a
talk about grey partridges on the Island (contact mshort@gwct.org.uk for more information) but in
the meantime you can join the Partridge Count Scheme here.

Please donate to help us continue our vital work during this difficult time

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