FARMERS and landowners are being urged to take part in the annual Grey Partridge Count in 2018.

Led by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), the count began in 1933 and collects information on the annual abundance and breeding success of grey partridges.

The popular farmland bird has undergone a steep decline since the 1960s, affected by wet summers, low chick survival and low winter survival rates.

However, chick survival rates can be improved by having the right insect-rich habitats and escape cover in place to minimise losses to predation.

This can reverse the decline and, since 2001, Count sites have shown numbers slowly increasing.

Neville Kingdon, GWCT scientist, coordinates the results of the Count Scheme and is urging farmers, gamekeepers and land managers to take part in the Spring count.

He said: "This really is the time when we need you to log details of the numbers you have on your land. In general, partridge numbers have been in decline since World War Two due to a range of factors, but taking part in the count will help provide results on the current limitations.

"Management for grey partridges has additional benefits for the diversity of wildlife you see on your land or shoot, with increases in arable flora, farmland invertebrates and farmland birds all possible."

Each count can be completed in the morning or evening and Mr Kingdon said there are no restrictions on how many partridges participants need to have. "Each and every one matters and all counts are submitted to the Trust’s national database," he said.

There are currently 15 regional PCS groups which meet to provide face-to-face explanations on how to manage land effectively for grey partridges.

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