Grey Partridge Recovery Project
Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust project to work with Grey partridges in the Yorkshire Dales
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27/06/2011 14:52: Call for help
Grey partridges are primarily recognised as a bird of lowland arable farming landscapes, however important populations persist in upland fringe areas, such as the North Pennines. Here, they frequent enclosed hay meadows, rushy pastures and grass dominated moorland.
Little is known of their population dynamics or habitat use and a three year project, funded through SITA Trust and The County Durham Environmental Trust was launched in spring 2010. The project aims to quantify numbers of birds in some of the Durham and Yorkshire Dales to establish local conservation targets, and promote management practices conducive to increasing numbers.
Grey partridge surveys in the Durham and Yorkshire Dales in spring 2010 found a 90% decline in numbers since 2007, with partridges almost entirely absent from suitable habitats at high altitude (above 400m) and we put this down to high over-winter mortality during the previous winter’s prolonged snow. The availability of food, particularly in years with prolonged snow appears a major limiting factor in these moorland fringe habitats where arable crops are absent.
To establish whether we can increase their over-winter survival we have commenced a trial where we are providing supplementary food during the winter. The project is also investigating factors which influence breeding productivity through monitoring a sample of radio tagged partridges. The information gathered will be important to enable us to develop management practices to help increase numbers.
To generate more interest in grey partridge conservation in the uplands, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is inviting members from two of its regional Grey Partridge Groups – Durham & Northern Dales and Northumberland - to a special presentation which will outline the results of this fascinating research project. The event will be led by Tom Hornby and a visit to the study area on the Raby Estate (courtesy of Lord Barnard) will show the nesting and brood rearing habitats used by radio tagged birds and the winter feeding trial.
The Grey Partridge Group event, kindly sponsored by Gray’s Chartered Surveyors, is being held on Wednesday 25th May and members as well as those interested in grey partridge conservation are invited to attend. The presentation will start at 4pm at Middleton in Teesdale Village Hall, followed by a visit to the study site. The event will also include the presentation of the prestigious annual 2011 Grey Partridge Trophy sponsored by Gray’s Chartered Surveyors, which is awarded to the farm or estate that has achieved most in helping to restore this iconic species in the region.
For further information or to book a place at £14 per person (to include refreshments), please contact: Lynda Ferguson on 01425 651013 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or book online: www.gwct.org.uk/courses
27/06/2011 14:51: Bringing Back Greys on the fringeThe wild grey partridge is one of our most rapidly declining farmland birds, especially in lowland arable areas. However, an inspiring 3-year research project being carried out on moorland fringe habitats in the North of England by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust could have major implications on the future conservation of the nationally threatened partridge population.
The study, which is being funded by SITA Trust and County Durham Environment Trust, will initially identify the numbers and distribution of grey partridge in the Durham and Yorkshire dales. Earlier research in Upper Teesdale revealed locally high densities of grey partridges, but since 2007, the population has suffered an alarming 90% decline, caused by two weather induced poor breeding seasons and last years severe winter.
Dr Phil Warren, from the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, explains, “Although grey partridges are primarily recognised as a bird of lowland arable farming landscapes, important populations still persist in upland fringe areas such as the Yorkshire Dales, Durham Dales and other parts of the northern Pennines where there is no arable land. We know very little about these birds other than that they frequent hay meadows and rush infested pastures on the moorland fringe. To conserve these populations we require detailed information on their habitat use to allow us to develop management prescriptions to increase their numbers and distribution.”
To help the recovery of upland partridges, the Trust’s study aims to investigate the status and distribution of grey partridges in the upland fringes, as well as their habitat use and population dynamics. Dr Warren said, “Following two poor breeding seasons and last years severe winter there is a pressing need to initiate management practices that will result in a rapid increase in partridges. This study will help to establish local conservation targets as well as enabling us to develop management practices that will ensure that the upland fringes are managed in a way that will be conducive to grey partridge recovery. Given that numbers are currently so low we obviously recommend that until a recovery is achieved, shooters should refrain from harvesting them”