The English Grey Partridge?

MX7

Member
Location
cotswolds
When I was young I can remember the call of the Grey partridge on a spring /summer evening. Now all I can hear are French Partridge calling,do any of you still have the English Grey Partridge on your farm /estate.
 
Recently moved to North Yorkshire and am pleasantly surprised by the number of greys around, they easily outnumber the red legs.
 

MrNoo

Member
Location
Cirencester
Have quite a few here, a pair feed on our feeder in the garden every day, a lot of French been released next door from a commercial shoot, gather they squabble over nesting sites but on the whole they are still hanging on. We have margins and I put in plenty of covers etc, hammer foxes etc but maybe I should try more to help them. We are due a solar park so they should do well there.
Last year I was very hopeful they would have a great year but after harvest never saw any despite having plenty of pairs pre harvest. But they re appeared Dec time all paired up, have kept feeding too.
 

Vader

Member
Bad parents to chicks and bad at avoiding predators.
French partridge see a hawk they run to hedge
English squat down and keep still and get knocked off.
Esp by buzzards and sparrow hawks .
 

yellowbelly

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
N.Lincs
We have a few but sadly not as many as we had on the 60's and 70's.
You can't beat that 'cheeerping' call they make...

Joe Nickerson was a big fan (and a bigger 'slayer') of Perdix perdix, so much so that he named one of his wheat varieties after them - Rothwell Perdix. Ironically it became 'extinct' due to a massive breakdown to yellow rust in the 1960's.
 

Brisel

Member
Location
Dorset
We have a few but sadly not as many as we had on the 60's and 70's.
You can't beat that 'cheeerping' call they make...

Joe Nickerson was a big fan (and a bigger 'slayer') of Perdix perdix, so much so that he named one of his wheat varieties after them - Rothwell Perdix. Ironically it became 'extinct' due to a massive breakdown to yellow rust in the 1960's.
It was ironic that he also helped breed the winter wheats that now dominate the landscape which provide little habitat for his beloved greys.
 

Dry Rot

Member
Released greys have a low survival rate due to lack of skills. One French producer countered that by trapping up some of the wild cocks that come around the laying pens looking for a mate. When he released coveys of about 20 young birds, he made sure they included one of the wild cocks which then taught the artificially reared birds how to survive in the wild. A good example of social learning.

I released ex-layer greys around here. During a dry year, they did remarkably well with one covey of 30 chicks! But then they dwindled away and there are none now.
 

yellowbelly

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
N.Lincs
It was ironic that he also helped breed the winter wheats that now dominate the landscape which provide little habitat for his beloved greys.
They love a 'mucky' overwintered stubble. An elderly neighbour farmed sheep and spring barley in the days before Roundup, grazing his 'twitchy' stubbles before ploughing and drilling in the spring.

Every field seemed to have 2 or 3 coveys with no keepering or feeding. They were very challenging, sporty birds to shoot, driven over his big, overgrown hedges. No matter how many we shot, there was always just as many the next year.

Sadly, he's gone and so has the farm - sliced in two by the motorway. I like to think the few pairs we have about now are a few of old Bernard's legacy.
 

Clive

Staff Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lichfield
When I was young I can remember the call of the Grey partridge on a spring /summer evening. Now all I can hear are French Partridge calling,do any of you still have the English Grey Partridge on your farm /estate.
They returned to our farm when we stated to have a significant area of over winter cover crops, pretty healthy population now
 

Brisel

Member
Location
Dorset
Winter habitat helps a lot but they need 3 habitats:
  1. Winter cover - January - March is the time for the highest predation losses as the safe coveys break up & pair off for mating. Even full time grey partridge shoots like Arundel, Holkham, Sandringham & Northumberland (Percy) Estates lose 50% during this period. Plant perennial species that hold a canopy in late winter
  2. Nesting habitat - tussocky grasses e.g. beetle banks & hedge bottoms on slopes (a room with a view)
  3. Chick food - each chick needs 200 aphids or other small bugs/day for the first 10 days of its life. Conservation headlands are very good - these are usually weedy thin crops providing overhead protection yet easy movement and bugs on weeds in the base. Better broad leafed herbicides have been one of the main reasons for poor chick survival. A winter wheat or osr crop is like a desert for them. https://www.gwct.org.uk/farming/advice/habitat-issues/conservation-headlands-field-margins/
I don't like released greys - they can introduce disease & the chick feeding is not innate. That's why they are rare! You need wild birds who know how to teach the chicks to feed & where to look. Even fostering them with bantams helps as they will peck around for bugs & seeds.

3 main requirements for a healthy grey population:
  1. Habitat (see above)
  2. Supplementary feeding
  3. Predator control. No sniggering here about gamekeeper behaviour, especially in today's society of trail cameras & mobile phones - just rat, stoat, weasel & fox control makes a big difference. Sort the cover habitat and you make the raptors' hunting more difficult.
Further information here https://www.gwct.org.uk/research/species/birds/grey-partridge/
 
Released greys have a low survival rate due to lack of skills. One French producer countered that by trapping up some of the wild cocks that come around the laying pens looking for a mate. When he released coveys of about 20 young birds, he made sure they included one of the wild cocks which then taught the artificially reared birds how to survive in the wild. A good example of social learning.

I released ex-layer greys around here. During a dry year, they did remarkably well with one covey of 30 chicks! But then they dwindled away and there are none now.
I used to breed Greys and release them at home. They did get picked off sometimes but we always had a lot around the farm. I got 'wild strain' eggs from this guy www.perdixwildlifesupplies.com. He is a bit of a purist and is able to hatch them under partridge hens in captivity. I used Goldtop hens and they did an excellent job.

It is really worth the effort if anybody is interested to try.
 

Dry Rot

Member
There are (or used to be) pockets of 'hill partridges' in the Highlands. These usually occurred where cattle were outwintered and fed on unthreshed oat straw and where turnips were grown for sheep. From my home in Glenlivet, I could look out of the window and see the stacks of oats black with Black Game and Red Grouse, also grey partridges. These all disappeared when a new shed was put up and the cattle were brought in over winter and the oats were cut with a combine.

If you want butterflies, you need a few weeds!
 
There are (or used to be) pockets of 'hill partridges' in the Highlands. These usually occurred where cattle were outwintered and fed on unthreshed oat straw and where turnips were grown for sheep. From my home in Glenlivet, I could look out of the window and see the stacks of oats black with Black Game and Red Grouse, also grey partridges. These all disappeared when a new shed was put up and the cattle were brought in over winter and the oats were cut with a combine.

If you want butterflies, you need a few weeds!
Absolutely! I think the pellets I fed to my partridge chicks were something like 25% protein. The only thing that has that naturally degree of protein is insects... so our little friends tend to be carnivorous for the first 15-20 weeks of their life. I think the other problem that occurs is cracking open ground in dry spells. Chicks fall down the cracks and can't get out.
 

turbo

Member
Location
lincs
They returned to our farm when we stated to have a significant area of over winter cover crops, pretty healthy population now
Plenty here and not a single cover crop grown,they do seem to like the osr now that it’s grown using the subsoiler leaving plenty of stubble for early winter and the hybrids grow quickly in the spring giving them plenty of cover when they need it in the early spring.Predator control is vital if you want a thriving population and some rough old pp that is cut late for hay also helps.
 
Winter habitat helps a lot but they need 3 habitats:
  1. Winter cover - January - March is the time for the highest predation losses as the safe coveys break up & pair off for mating. Even full time grey partridge shoots like Arundel, Holkham, Sandringham & Northumberland (Percy) Estates lose 50% during this period. Plant perennial species that hold a canopy in late winter
  2. Nesting habitat - tussocky grasses e.g. beetle banks & hedge bottoms on slopes (a room with a view)
  3. Chick food - each chick needs 200 aphids or other small bugs/day for the first 10 days of its life. Conservation headlands are very good - these are usually weedy thin crops providing overhead protection yet easy movement and bugs on weeds in the base. Better broad leafed herbicides have been one of the main reasons for poor chick survival. A winter wheat or osr crop is like a desert for them. https://www.gwct.org.uk/farming/advice/habitat-issues/conservation-headlands-field-margins/
I don't like released greys - they can introduce disease & the chick feeding is not innate. That's why they are rare! You need wild birds who know how to teach the chicks to feed & where to look. Even fostering them with bantams helps as they will peck around for bugs & seeds.

3 main requirements for a healthy grey population:
  1. Habitat (see above)
  2. Supplementary feeding
  3. Predator control. No sniggering here about gamekeeper behaviour, especially in today's society of trail cameras & mobile phones - just rat, stoat, weasel & fox control makes a big difference. Sort the cover habitat and you make the raptors' hunting more difficult.
Further information here https://www.gwct.org.uk/research/species/birds/grey-partridge/
How good is a forward OSR crop in this respect?

How good do you think the AB6 extended overwinter stubble option is likely to be?
 

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94: Advice around establishing herbal leys

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94: Advice around establishing herbal leys

Written by AHDB

In this episode, Danny Fanning, a Masters student from University College Dublin spent a two month placement at AHDB looking at Herbal Leys. During this time he spoke to Ian Wilkinson of Costwolds seeds about his farming practices and how he manages his herbal lays.

* Please note this episode was filmed outside, so in parts it can be...
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