Starting to reintriduce the Grey Partridge

kes

Well-Known Member
I have caught the habit from a friend who regularly releases Greys which he does not shoot. Expensive hobby at £5.00 a bird (poults) so i am looking for advice to maximise the chance of them staying and breeding.
I keep them in a coop and attached run with wire and an electric fence around, for the local foxes sake. My land is 20 acres but is not under any agricultural pressure as there are a few wiltshire horned sheep keeping the growth down a bit - no pesticides and no herbicides, except specific hand application when needed. So when released fully there should be some insect life to support them. Any advice anyone ?
 

shakey jake

Well-Known Member
Good luck but unless you are borderedby suitable habitate i think your just releasing them to their death, i hope it work but their demise came about through the loss of winter stubbles and pasture 20 acres doesnt seem big enough
Shakey
 

kes

Well-Known Member
Good luck but unless you are borderedby suitable habitate i think your just releasing them to their death, i hope it work but their demise came about through the loss of winter stubbles and pasture 20 acres doesnt seem big enough
Shakey

I agree, 20 acres isnt sufficient but my friend is almost next door and has 150 acres. The overall area is very rural (I can see but a few houses from my windows) and its a river valley with mainly farms. I'd be happy if they moved miles away but started re-population there.
In my youth, I used to shoot over a number of local farms in Cheshire and there were often coveys of Greys to be found. They became synonymous with autumn walks, stubbles and certainly happier times. We all have to give something back so I'll keep trying.
 

Tamar

Well-Known Member
It's tricky and not like releasing pheasants or redlegs. You get very low success by just putting them out as poults ina pen, but instead they should be introduced in 'family' groups with adults. GWCT have a good set of guidelines https://www.gwct.org.uk/media/20863...lishing-grey-partridges-through-releasing.pdf

Dave Butler at Perdix solutions has helpful advice and can supply poults and family groups (but these are bit more than £5) Wild Greys Project - Perdix Wildlife Supplies

Good luck - It's a great thing to try and badly needed.
 
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White Hart

Well-Known Member
As Tamar, I was about to suggest looking at the research that the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust have done / are doing. There's a few publications on there website.

Grey partridge - Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

I went to a talk a while back by the Duke of Norfolk's Keeper Charlie Mellor from the Arundel Estate in Sussex. It was very interesting and he was a wealth of knowledge on the subject. I believe they do regular talks / estate visits specifically to talk about there success with grey partridge, maybe of use for future reference.

All the best.

WH
 

williamwansbeck

Well-Known Member
Need really good control of ground vermin ,and cats
40 years ago was often a guest on a local shoot mid northumberland and greys were 75% of bag then numbers just plummeted and not due to shooting pressure as land was known as good partridge ground back to 19th century and lightly shot,and ground was more or less given up on.still odd pairs and small coveys about locally but must be only 5% of what it was as a lad,no one i think locally would shoot greys as every body knows the score
I also believe the insect count and hatches on fields are nothing like they were,long term eradication which spraying off year after year,used to love to hear greys calling on the stubble.
People are trying beetle banks and wild meadows and it will help best of luck.
 

User00025

Well-Known Member
I started keepering as an English partridge Beat keeper. If you can murder all the predators you can be half way there, as an example I ran 50 snares and 120 tunnels on 1000 acres. Environment is also a main factor and what may look good in one area can be totally wrong in another. Four years ago A Keeper friend asked me for help to breed and release English and we did it by pairing and hatching eggs under broodies. We released them with a mature pair and also where there were the odd barren pair to "adopt" them.
The ground was perfect and over 3 years 450 were put down on 3000 acres. He also does a great many Redlegs for shooting and there were an odd English shot as well but very few. Unfortunately there are now no more on the ground than when he started, whether this is due to pressure from redlegs or not I can't tell.
It always begs the question what is it that Englishmen want, what looks good is not necessarily good. In Scotland at one time they called them Hill partridge and they lived on really rough pasture and moorland, but they have now all but disappeared. As a boy I shot a 50 acre rough and marshy area totally unsuitable, but there were always two coveys on there with innumerable Snipe, very hard to explain partridge wise. It may be that the old mixed farming with fields of roots etc suited them better because I could always lean on a gate at dusk and hear a couple of cock birds calling the coveys together.
I would definitely have a chat with David Butler, he is very knowledgeable and the son of a keeper who used to neighbour me.
 

reloader54

Well-Known Member
Going through the old "game books" on my estate it's obvious grey partridge figured heavily in the bag totals,as did hares, and also noticeable was the steep decline in numbers,over a few short seasons, I questioned this with the oldest keeper who still visited me[he got me the job as it happens] he said when the tenant farmers grew predominately vegetables for local use and had an extensive "side of the road" trade, they sprayed little or no pesticides this benefited the partridges immensely,especially at rearing time, however rules brought in against side of the road sellers, upcoming retirement, and changes in land use farming wise, all took their toll, something my younger boss is successfully reversing, and estate has taken back all the previously tenanted farms as and when they retired,[the farmers being allowed to reside in the various farmhouses until their demise or when they chose to leave voluntarily] thousands of young trees, hedges reinstated, parkland ploughed up to aid the war effort has been reinstated, and swathes of wild flowers and the resultant insects all help the once prominent greys, the results are indeed slow and it will be a long time before levels return to those days of way back, but it's a start.
 

countrryboy

Well-Known Member
I'd also reccommend having a look throu the GWCT website, plenty of info there. They might have some printed handouts etc from courses they run too
The courses are quite good, but at same time not rocket science either just ur standrd 3 leg stool ideal (habitat, feed and predators) any 1 lacking and birds will struggle/fail

1 of the biggest things they advise which surprised me and no one has mentioned yet is if u still have wild breeding greys hanging on DO NOT release any reared greys, it just does more harm than good and weakens the genetics and wildness off the resident population.
If u do have wild birds and want to release extra i think Dave from Perdix do sell eggs/chicks (like the old Euston system) taken from genuine wild birds and possibly poults from ubder broodies.

Possibly it might be worth trying to get some eggs and rearing them under banties (been menaing to do it myself for a while) don't know if they'd hold better that way as ur hen coup might help hold them.

Greys used to have a massive range of habitats and not just ur arable land as most folk think, many of the english grouse moors will still have decent numbers of Greys along the moorland fringe and lower ground.
A few scottish moors may still have odd hill partridge but they used to be everywhere back in the day (or so i'm told) i think in there case it will be purely vermin that has done them in as really habitat, insect abundance etc shouldn't have changed.
Many waders are also suffering a similar fate too in upland areas


In the past i've had not bad results/% shooting grey poults we've released and that was in rashy (more Hill partridge type territory, not an arable field for miles) and often they hold very tight to the releasing pen. A far better bird for walking up/dog work as will sit tight and flush instead of running on ahead like the frenchies
Released grey ex layers a few times as half the price and just a complete disaster, never even seen 1 again.

For a few years u'd see odd greys around the general area.

A good keeper ()who i think might be on here) had pretty impressive grey numbers until relatively recently and he blamed the red legs and pheasants, said they were bothering the grey nests/eggs.

Dunno wot u use ur ground for the now and might be too late for this year but might be worth sowing some game cover strips?
U could still sow a catch crop this year (fodder radish, mustard, stubble turnip etc) but mibee look into the various strips (nesting cover, brood rearing, insect rich, or feed) u can sow for ur soil type. or even just a wild flower/butterfly mix, no good for part but liooks nice and good for nature in general.
Mix it up a wee bit, plough/rotavate a couple of patches and hand sow some different strips into them, won't have to be big, will attract plenty of other LBJ's too amongst other birds


Ps if ur into game shooting and/or the science behind it and conservation well worth joining the GWCT some of the research and projects they're doing are pretty good. A great way to actually demonstrate good practice and how well it works.
There anual review takes some reading
 

countrryboy

Well-Known Member
Going through the old "game books" on my estate it's obvious grey partridge figured heavily in the bag totals,as did hares, and also noticeable was the steep decline in numbers,over a few short seasons, I questioned this with the oldest keeper who still visited me[he got me the job as it happens] he said when the tenant farmers grew predominately vegetables for local use and had an extensive "side of the road" trade, they sprayed little or no pesticides this benefited the partridges immensely,especially at rearing time, however rules brought in against side of the road sellers, upcoming retirement, and changes in land use farming wise, all took their toll, something my younger boss is successfully reversing, and estate has taken back all the previously tenanted farms as and when they retired,[the farmers being allowed to reside in the various farmhouses until their demise or when they chose to leave voluntarily] thousands of young trees, hedges reinstated, parkland ploughed up to aid the war effort has been reinstated, and swathes of wild flowers and the resultant insects all help the once prominent greys, the results are indeed slow and it will be a long time before levels return to those days of way back, but it's a start.



Wot the GWCT done at the allerton project was pretty impressive in a fairly short timescale, i forget the numbers off hand but there partridge numbers shot up pretty quickly, when u put the right habitat in and hammer the predators.
Greys can have decent broods so if u get some decent weather at critical times and can keep the vermin of the chicks numbers can grow quite fast, esp when u get a few on the ground.

Althou it might depend where ur are thou, some of the scottish numbers were shockingly bad even on estates spending fortunes specifically to manage them, think just the harsher climate and later spring so shorter breeding/rearing window (is the same with the grouse too even some very good well run scottish estates struggle for birds in a way the english boys never do)

I think 1 of the main problem areas now is the springwhen birds all paired off, if not a lot of decent cover/shelter they can make easy pickings for various BoP's
 

enfieldspares

Well-Known Member
It's a real pity. In the early and mid 1990s I used to shoot on 1,000 acres and we always put down about 20% greys. Usually six or so in a small coop and perhaps three coops to a twenty-five acre field. Ths was a syndicate shoot. I think that because pheasants are perceived to be easier to keep on one's ground...and more importantly where one wants them on that ground...the pheasant is the less difficult option for commercial shoots which charge by the bird.

For even if "beetle banks" and winter stubbles were to re-appear overnight grey partridge aren't thought to give the same bag return on a shoot compared with the same labour input on pheasants. Even on the day a relatively small game strip, say twenty-five yards wide by fifty yards long can hold more pheasant than, that can be flushed almost on demand than often, a ten acre field will hold grey partridge. It's all about economics sadly.
 

NigelM

Well-Known Member
I spent the first 6 years trying to get the Grey's going on 180 acres. Failed.

4000 trees planted for hedging, three 400 meter beetle banks put through the fields, 80 acres put into HLS for Grey Partridge specific habitat, tunnel traps in and at the end of every hedge line and woodland corner for rats, stoats and weasels, Larson and ladder traps for the corvids, a great deal of lamping for foxes, cats and anything else that was a threat. Not an exhaustive list but you get the idea of the amount of effort involved. We won a Purdey Conservation award for the work we did, so it wasn't a Mickey Mouse affair.

I started out with 50 a year as poults. They stayed on the ground as the habitat was right. They were very rarely shot on a shoot day (pheasant was the only other quarry and a £100 donation to the GWCT helped dissuade the guns). However they never bred. Researching it more the advise was either to get eggs and incubate them under a broody bantam or route #1 was to get a breeding pair complete with eggs from somewhere that was successful, like Sandringham.

On talking more with those who really knew what they were talking about they didn't really feel I was likely to bee successful. Although habitat and vermin control were good enough the land just wasn't big enough. They are very territorial birds and the density is very low. Most places that make it work are well over 1000 acres, some will say that to get anywhere near a shootable surplus you need more than that.

So unfortunately I eventually puled the plug and went to Frenchmen and Pheasants. Shoot days are much more productive but I do miss sitting out on a quiet evening listening to their unmistakable calling and watching them burst low over a hedge line. They really are very special little birds, full of character.
 

countrryboy

Well-Known Member
Thats a shame above Nigel, and fair play for winning a purdey award:tiphat: that takes a bit of doing and a lot of hard work.

Just to add (and possibly stating the obvious here to some, althou i never knew it not being from an arable area) with beetle banks it important they don't join in to any hedges or field edges, the idea of them is to be isolated in the field so less chance of a fox/badger/stoat hunting up it when hunting the hedges/edges

They do should nice.
 

NigelM

Well-Known Member
Thats a shame above Nigel, and fair play for winning a purdey award:tiphat: that takes a bit of doing and a lot of hard work.

Just to add (and possibly stating the obvious here to some, althou i never knew it not being from an arable area) with beetle banks it important they don't join in to any hedges or field edges, the idea of them is to be isolated in the field so less chance of a fox/badger/stoat hunting up it when hunting the hedges/edges

They do should nice.

Agreed, I had about 5 meters from hedge to the start of the bank and kept the ends mown. Vehicle tracks go round the outside of each field to make access easy for lamping ops. Banks had 2 meter grass borders and a 12 meter border on one side containing a strip of cover containing kale, quinoa and millet so they had nesting, feeding and brood rearing in a single area. There were (and still are) a proper job, although I have now added a 6 meter strip of maize down the opposite sides to the cover crop to help hold the pheasants which works well. They are great 24 meter strips through the three main fields which hold an amazing amount of wildlife that never get disturbed by the farming operations. In addition, each year one side was left as over winter stubble and fallow for the next summer so there was always stubble somewhere. Sure, you loose a bit of productive ground, but the HLS grants generally pay for that, price of wheat and barley what it is today.
 

Freeforester

Well-Known Member
Need really good control of ground vermin ,and cats
40 years ago was often a guest on a local shoot mid northumberland and greys were 75% of bag then numbers just plummeted and not due to shooting pressure as land was known as good partridge ground back to 19th century and lightly shot,and ground was more or less given up on.still odd pairs and small coveys about locally but must be only 5% of what it was as a lad,no one i think locally would shoot greys as every body knows the score
I also believe the insect count and hatches on fields are nothing like they were,long term eradication which spraying off year after year,used to love to hear greys calling on the stubble.
People are trying beetle banks and wild meadows and it will help best of luck.

40 years ago the spraying really started; that time you could see the rivers boil as trout took the early hatches of insects like March Browns etc; now all but gone; I was once flying at around 1500' in my paramotor when I was almost overcome by the strong smell of chemicals; 2/3 mile upwind a farmer was spraying, the thermals did the rest. What goes up... all that 31,000 tonnes put on the cereal and crop fields of Gt Britain ends up somewhere.

40 + years ago my intake in school had out of 92 pupils one kid who had a slight asthma problem, none had allergies...... how do the farmers get the crops ready to go through the combine all at the same time??

For as clever the White Man is, the old chief Seattle foresaw his fate, well over a century ago.....
 

A Guy Out West

Well-Known Member
A friend and I had a pipe dream of releasing golden pheasants on his 100 + acres in the hope of establishing a reproducing and possibly huntable population. After much study, we determined it an almost impossible task. Our research determined that the only real way to establish a breeding population was to release wild trapped birds and have the habitat for them. Since neither of us are lotto winners, we had to shift our pipe dreams to something else.
 
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