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Farm walk on how to help partridges
THE number of grey partridge pairs in Northumberland, County Durham and the Northern Dales, has more than halved in a year.
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) carries out a national count each spring.
Henrietta Appleton, the GWCT’s regional adviser for the North of England, said the region has the capacity to hold at least 10,788 pairs of grey partridges.
“Unfortunately, because of the poor spring this year only 563 pairs of partridges were counted, whereas in spring 2012 more than 1,311 pairs of greys were recorded,” she said.
Last year’s wettest summer for 100 years decimated young partridge chicks but, despite the sharp decline in adult pairs, their over-winter survival rate was better than expected.
However, the red-listed species – which has declined by 86 per cent over the past 40 years – needs a considerable amount of positive management to ensure its future survival.
To help raise awareness and encourage landowners, farmers and shoot managers to get involved in grey partridge recovery, the GWCT is holding a North-East Grey Partridge Group farm walk.
It is at Ronald Barber’s Melkington Farm, near Cornhill-on-Tweed, at noon on Thursday, October 3.
Held jointly with the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) it will show how year-round habitats, combined with other important management, is the key to ensuring the future of this once common farmland bird.
Good-quality habitat is achieved through good practice, including good seed bed preparation, appropriate seed and crop choice, and accurate insecticide applications to the commercial “infield”
The event will demonstrate these with input from the farm contractor and seed supplier. Alison Clayton from the CFE will provide guidance on accurate insecticide application to reduce impacts on conservation margins.
Mr Barber is passionate about building his partridge population and has provided a network of wildlife habitats, such as conservation margins, wild bird seed mixes and over-winter stubbles – which also benefit lapwings, skylarks and tree sparrows.
Habitat provision is supported by supplementary feeding and predator management to maximise breeding success.
Henrietta Appleton said: “Partridges need all the help they can get and we hope many local farmers and game managers will attend and be inspired by what they see on Melkington Farm.”
Grey partridges were hit by last year’s wet summer
The event, sponsored by GSC Grays, costs £15 per person and includes light refreshments.
To book, email Lynda Ferguson on lferguson@ gwct.org.uk, call 01425- 651013 or visit gwct.org.
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