20 May 2020

Farmers and land managers urged to help the GWCT monitor grey partridge numbers

Partridge pair (Rollin Verlinde)The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is urging farmers, land managers, gamekeepers and landowners who have signed up for its Partridge Count Scheme (PCS) to send in their spring grey partridge count while there is still time.

Members are being reminded to send in the results of the partridge counts on their land to the GWCT’s national database. The scheme relies on its volunteer members, who are interested in helping to conserve wild grey partridge on their land, to help record bird numbers twice a year. Counts are conducted in the spring to measure breeding abundance and in the autumn to measure breeding success.

“I would strongly encourage anyone who has signed up for the Partridge Count Scheme to get out into the fresh air, see some wildlife, and count partridge on your land while there is still time this spring. For those who have already done so, please do not forget to return your count form to us,” said the GWCT’s head of project Julie Ewald.

“Things are looking good so far this year. Early counts from our advisory and research teams are encouraging,” she continued. “Perhaps owing to the milder weather conditions, numbers appear to have held up well over the winter. I would also remind anyone who has very few or no partridges to still return their counts. It is just as important to let us know when you haven’t seen any partridges.”

The volunteer farmers, gamekeepers and landowners are given instructions on how to count and encouraged to count around dawn and dusk when birds are out of cover and feeding. Following the count, they receive site-specific guidance based on their results. This can help to identify factors that might be limiting partridges on their land and inform habitat management decisions that could benefit grey partridges and other wildlife. Future counts will then help to track the success of those measures, further encouraging landowners and managers in their commitment to conservation.

The presence of grey partridge is a great barometer of wider farmland biodiversity, and where they are doing well due to successful management, so will many other species. Counts can provide an early warning of a problem, enabling land managers to make changes.

The free, voluntary scheme has been running since 1933. With ongoing declines in wild partridge numbers, in recent years the GWCT formed 15 regional partridge groups to provide focus on the plight of the grey partridge and offer solutions to their recovery. These groups offer events, updates on the GWCT’s partridge research and advice on how to manage land to encourage wild partridges.

For those land managers wanting more information, or interested in joining, please visit www.gwct.org.uk/partridge

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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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