Hopes for Scottish grey partridges following sunny summer
Dry weather is great news for partridges, with more time available to feed, and less time trying to shelter or even dry out following a torrential downpour. Young partridge chicks are particularly susceptible to wet conditions, and so it is important that any wild bird seed mixes planted are not too dense to allow them to move around without becoming wet. In Scotland, unlike England, we had the opposite problem this year, with dry soil leading to severe delays in the sowing of many plots of seed mixes. This was the case at the Interreg North Sea region PARTRIDGE demonstration site Balgonie, but fortunately rain did eventually arrive, and the mixes are finally looking the part.
Wild bird seed mix sown during 2021 at Balgonie (Fiona Torrance)
As farmers well know, dry growing conditions are excellent for cereal production and this meant that the landscape changed, from luscious greens to golden browns, much earlier than usual. For the PARTRIDGE team, this means our partridge autumn counts have started 3 weeks earlier than normal. With ideal partridge brood-rearing conditions, it is hoped that many more chicks will have survived, and although early reports have been encouraging, it is only by doing the counts that we can actually be sure. This is why we strongly encourage landowners to take part in the partridge count scheme, which helps us to estimate brood-rearing success during the season. For more information or to take part, please see the PCS website at www.gwct.org.uk/long-term-monitoring/partridge-count-scheme/join
Written by Fiona Torrance, Scottish PARTRIDGE demo site manager