02 October 2013

A gain for greys in Yorkshire

Stuart Stark of Fridlington Farms (left) receives the Yorkshire Grey Partridge Trophy from Paul Ainscough of sponsor’s SavillsLeading research charity, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is delighted to announce the winner of its prestigious Yorkshire conservation trophy dedicated to one of the UK’s most iconic but rare birds – the wild grey partridge.

The winner this year, chosen because of the considerable efforts made to restore the species on his farm, is Stuart Stark of Fridlington Farms Ltd near Sutton on the Forest.

The grey partridge population at Fridlington increased between 2012 and 2013 on the back of a number of broods successfully hatching last summer – an excellent result given the poor 2012 breeding season, which GWCT scientists have described as “apocalyptic”. Stuart said “We are delighted to have been awarded the Yorkshire Grey Partridge Group Trophy, we will continue to improve habitat so that the number of greys may flourish and adorn the countryside in North Yorkshire.”

Fridlington Farms is a mixed farming enterprise of sheep, pigs, potatoes and cereals with linseed and oil seed rape as break crops. This intensively-managed system provides a mosaic of different habitat types and is supported by dedicated conservation and game cover in order to ensure that the year-round requirements of the grey partridge and other wild game are met.

Stuart is supported by Charlie Garbutt, his keeper, who shares his enthusiasm for the grey partridge. Charlie works closely with the farm team on the location, establishment and management of the habitat as well as ensuring his hoppers are filled through until May and controlling predators during the nesting and brood rearing season.

The Yorkshire Grey Partridge Trophy was presented by co-judge Paul Ainscough of Savills – who kindly sponsored the award. Paul added, “I much enjoyed meeting Stuart and Charlie. It was interesting to hear how the steps they have taken are helping to create a sustainable population of grey partridges on a commercial farm.”

Stuart focuses in particular on ensuring the availability of good insect rich cover to provide food for the freshly-hatched partridge chicks in late June/early July, as they require around 2,000 insects per day during their early weeks!

GWCT advisor Henrietta Appleton said, “Fridlington Farms is a worthy winner as Stuart’s and Charlie’s enthusiasm for what they are doing is evident in the results they are achieving. This is an excellent example of what can be done on an intensively managed farming enterprise given a good working relationship between the farming staff and the keeper.”

For more information about the GWCT’s grey partridge groups or for a copy of the Trust's Conserving the grey partridge guide please contact Lynda Ferguson on advisory@gwct.org.uk or call 01425 651013.


Photocaption: Stuart Stark of Fridlington Farms (left) receives the Yorkshire Grey Partridge Trophy from Paul Ainscough of sponsor’s Savills.

Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

ISDN radio broadcast line – at our Fordingbridge HQ we have an ISDN radio broadcast line, allowing us to conduct interviews remotely.

For information, contact:
Kate Williams
Telephone: 01425 651000
Email: press@gwct.org.uk

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