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					                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Grey partridge by Roger Wilmshurst (rspb-images.com)
                    Grey partridge




                                     Distribution map showing the relative abundance
                                     of grey partridges in Britain and Ireland 1988–91


                                     The grey partridge has a brick-red face, as opposed to the black-and-white face pattern on the red-legged partridge


                                     The grey partridge can be found                       WHAT DO GREY PARTRIDGES NEED?
                                     in most farming systems, except
                                     predominantly improved                               Nesting habitat: grey partridges            Summer food: grey partridge             Winter food and cover: adult
FARMING FOR BIRDS




                                     grasslands. The UK grey partridge                    nest on the ground in hedge                 chicks feed on insects, especially      grey partridges feed mainly on
                                     population fell by 87% between                       bottoms, grass margins, beetle              caterpillars, beetles, bugs, ants       seeds and shoots throughout the
                                     1970 and 2003. This has been                         banks, cereals, game cover and              and aphids. Breeding is more            year. Places where they can find
                                     caused mainly by the loss of                         nettle beds. Dead tussocky grass            successful when there is plenty         such food include weedy winter
                                     insect food sources on farmland.                     left over from the previous year            of this food available. Chicks take     stubbles, rotational set-aside and
                                     The loss of seed sources, loss of                    is particularly attractive as               insects mainly from within the          wild bird cover crops. They also
                                     nesting habitat and predation                        nesting cover.                              crop, especially the headlands.         require cover to conceal them
                                     have also contributed.                                                                                                                   from predators, especially in
                                                                                                                                                                              early spring.
                                     ANNUAL LIFECYCLE OF A GREY PARTRIDGE
                                       January        February          March            April           May           June           July         August   September        October      November       December

                                                                                                    Main breeding season. They most often nest in
                                      Coveys break up and territorial pairs need winter                                                                     Coveys seek cover with plenty of seed food, such as
                                                                                                 rough grass margins of arable crops. Chicks feed on
                                              cover with plenty of seed food.                                                                                 wild bird seed mixtures or tall weedy stubbles.
                                                                                                      insects, largely within the crop headland.
 HOW CAN I ENCOURAGE GREY PARTRIDGES?                                                                                                                          PRIORITY ACTION
                                                                                                                                                                    The grey partridge is a target species for
                     Nesting habitat                               Summer food                                     Winter food                                      Higher Level Stewardship.

   •     Avoid planting trees and do not              •   Create brood-rearing habitat with          •   Keep some tall cover (>20 cm) at                           Ensure that the farm provides nesting
         increase the height of hedgerows                 plenty of insect food adjacent to              all times, especially in February                          habitat, summer food and winter food.
         above 2 metres in areas used by                  good nesting habitat.                          and March, close to or as part of
         nesting partridges.                                                                             suitable feeding areas, to reduce                          Create brood-rearing habitat with plenty of
                                                           SA    ELS    HLS An annual                                                                               insect food adjacent to good nesting areas.
                                                      •                                                  predation.
   •      SA     ELS Create tussocky grass                mixture of cereal and at least two                                                                        Provide seed food through the winter with
         buffer strips and field corners                  other crops can be established             •   ELS   HLS Create areas of wild                             wild bird seed mixtures, over-wintered
         around arable fields, especially                 (minimum 6 metres wide) as a                   bird seed mixture in the spring                            stubble or rotational set-aside.
         fields with open boundaries,                     brood-rearing cover using the wild             with a high proportion of cereal in
                                                                                                                                                                    Get involved by joining The Game
         ditches or short hedges. Avoid                   bird seed mixture options.                     the mix. Kale left for a second
                                                                                                                                                                    Conservancy Trust’s Partridge Count
         cutting all margins in the same                                                                 year is good. Renew half the crops                         Scheme, and get the latest partridge
         year.                                        •   ELS Undersown spring cereals                   each year, to provide some cover                           management and conservation
                                                          can boost insect numbers on                    in early spring every year.                                information (www.gct.org.uk/partridge).
   •      SA   Cut non-rotational set-aside               mixed farms.
         on or just before 15 August and                                                             •    SA   ELS Leave fields of over-
         leave 25% uncut each year to                 •   Try to avoid using broad-spectrum              wintered stubbles and rotational                      See also the RSPB advisory sheets on:
         reduce the risk of nest loss.                    insecticides after 15 March.                   set-aside unmanaged for as long
                                                                                                                                                               •   arable crops on livestock farms
                                                                                                         as possible through the winter and
                                                                                                                                                               •   beetle banks
   •      ELS Create beetle banks through             •   ELS Adopt conservation                         early spring.                                         •   buffer strips on cultivated land
         the middle of arable fields larger               headlands (especially the option                                                                     •   buffer strips on grassland
         than 16 hectares.                                with no fertiliser as these offer          •    HLS Low-input cereal crops                           •   conservation headlands
                                                                                                                                                               •   grazed pasture
                                                          easy access for chicks)                        followed by over-wintered stubble                     •   hay and silage meadows
   •     ELS In pastoral areas where grey                 HLS or low-input cereal crops to               provide more seed food for birds                      •   hedgerow management
         partridges are still present, leave              boost beneficial broad-leaved                  than conventional stubbles.                           •   low-input cereals
         6 m buffer strips of silage fields               weeds and associated insects.                                                                        •   over-wintered stubble
                                                                                                                                                               •   set-aside management
         uncut and maintain or increase                                                              •   ELS HLS In pastoral areas
                                                                                                                                                               •   wild bird seed mixtures.
         areas of arable cropping.                    •   ELS    HLS Maintain areas of                   where grey partridges are still
                                                          unimproved grassland or manage                 present, maintain or increase                         The Game Conservancy Trust also has
                                                          grassland with low-inputs to boost             areas of arable cropping.                             factsheets on specific aspects of grey partridge
                                                                                                                                                               conservation (www.gct.org.uk/partridge):
                                                          insect food.
                                                                                                                                                               • Restoring grey partridges to your farm
                                                                                                                                                               • Providing nesting cover for wild grey partridges
KEY
                                                                                                                                                               • Providing brood-rearing cover for wild grey partridges
       = all farms       = arable and mixed farms   = pastoral farms ELS = Entry Level Stewardship HLS = Higher Level Stewardship SA = Set-aside               • Providing winter cover and food for wild
                                                                                                                                                                 grey partridges
                                                                                                                                                               • Using predator control to increase wild grey
You can get further information on this and other ways of managing your farm for wildlife from:                                                                  partridge numbers
                                                                                                                                                               • England: The ‘best’ ELS/HLS options for grey partridge
               Agricultural Adviser, The RSPB,                  Farming and Wildlife Advisory                                                                    conservation
               UK Headquarters, The Lodge, Sandy,               Group, NAC, Stoneleigh,
               Bedfordshire SG19 2DL                            Kenilworth, Warwickshire            The Game Conservancy Trust, Fordingbridge,                 For answers to all of your farm wildlife enquiries,
               Tel: 01767 680551                                CV8 2RX Tel: 024 7669 6699          Hampshire SP6 1EF Tel: 01425 652381                        visit www.farmwildlife.info
               www.rspb.org.uk/farming                          www.fwag.org.uk                     www.gct.org.uk

                                                                                                                RSPB regd charity no 207076   223-1316-05-06

				
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posted:2/11/2011
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