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Disastrous Breeding Season Grey Partridges

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Article written by 04 October 2012

Durham and Northumberland farmers urged to help grey partridges after disastrous breeding season

According to the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) this summer, which has been the wettest for a century, has also been the worst breeding season for wild grey partridge since records began in 1933 and has proved fatal for countless young partridges.

Following this disastrous breeding season, the GWCT is urging land owners and farmers with wild grey partridges to conserve their existing population in the hope that next year brings more favourable weather conditions.

Grey partridges have suffered a major 86 per cent decline over the past 40 years and so the losses this year are a huge knock-back for this iconic species. The appalling weather has had three major effects on young grey partridge chicks, mainly: direct chick mortality through chilling; starvation through lack of suitable chick food insects and disease through ingesting the wrong food such as slugs that transfer parasitic infections.

In an effort to provide advice and support to those with even one or two grey partridges left on their land, The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is holding a farm walk at Ricknall Grange Farm near Aycliffe (by kind invitation of Gordon Sedgewick) on Tuesday 23rd October at 2pm to discuss the key management actions required to conserve their wild grey partridges over-winter, namely:

  • Supplementary feeding over the winter and through to early summer.
  • Winter cover on the edges of fields for birds to hide in during late winter and early spring as they can suffer losses of over 50 per cent during this vulnerable time.
  • The importance of cover crop establishment to minimise poor habitat provision.

The event, which is aimed at farmers in County Durham and Northumberland is kindly sponsored by GSC Grays, will also discuss habitat provision for the wide variety of farmland wildlife at Ricknall Grange including Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow and Lapwing. This is particularly pertinent as Gordon Sedgewick is in the process of converting from a Countryside Stewardship Scheme to a Higher Level Scheme. The farm walk will be led by Henrietta Appleton of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust with Natural England on hand to discuss agri-environment scheme details.

The event will end with some light, warming refreshment and a chance to chat. The cost per person is £20.00 inc. VAT. To book a place, please contact Lynda Ferguson by email: lferguson@gwct.org.uk or telephone: 01425 651013

Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is the leading UK charity conducting scientific research to enhance the British countryside for public benefit. Read more.

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