First chicks hatch in Interreg PARTRIDGE project

Thursday, June 29, 2017 - Published by Paul Stephens
Brabants Landschap, Landscape Management Foundation Zeeland, Zeeuws Landschap and Vogelbescherming in the Netherlands launched a major cross-border protection project in October 2016 to save the partridge and other farmland birds.

Thanks to the Interreg grant, agricultural areas in England, Scotland, Germany, Flanders and the Netherlands can be optimally managed for partridge over the coming years. In Brabant, a demonstration area (Oude Doorn) and a reference area (Genderen) are designated and each are 500 hectares. Here, ANV Altena-Biesbosch, NBV Altenatuur, WBE Land of Altena, Brabants Landschap and the Province of North Brabant work together to achieve a 30% increase in biodiversity.

An exceptional find

Volunteers of the Bird Protection Group Altenatuur were searching a field with summer wheat on Tuesday afternoon, April 18, to protect lapwing nests from agricultural work. The group has been working here, near Sleeuwijk, for many years together with farmer Kobus Kolff.

Kolff is a major participant in the PARTRIDGE project with his field margins, hedges, beetle banks, flower blocks and a patronshaag. Gert-Jan van der Pol, one of Altenatuur's birdwatchers, had found a nest of skylark on one of the plots of Kobus last year with the help of his fellow guardians.

He told the other volunteers during their search for lapwing nests on the wheat field: "The nest was so beautifully hidden under a leaf. Look, just like here." He pointed his bamboo stick to a leaf and lifted it up. And there it was, a small creamy coloured egg. Experts know that such a finding is truly exceptional, as a complete nest with an average of 15 eggs is hardly ever found.

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First breeding nest in demonstration area

The location was passed to Kobus so he could keep it in mind when he worked his land. And so it happened! On Friday 9 June a thermal image was taken by the ‘Meadow bird drone’ near the nest location, but on the other side of a trench from where the nest was layed. Good news, because that could have been the hen with her chicks.

On Wednesday 14 June, volunteers went into the field to see what happened to the nest. And fortunately, the eggs did indeed hatch. The caps lay neatly together in the nest. This is the first breeding nest in the demonstration area ‘Oude Doorn’.

Also in the reference area, a covey was spotted last week. Hans Thur spotted a pair with at least two chicks. The chicks will now have to look for enough insects and shelter to survive. Within 'PARTRIDGE', habitat-enhancing measures are taken to improve food supply, shelter and breeding facilities for partridges and other farmland birds.