An iconic British species, recognisable by their orange face and chestnut tail, the grey ‘English’ partridges have a Red List conservation status (RSPB), meaning they need urgent conservation action.
Our estate has worked hard to ensure that these unassuming and rare birds (unlike their red-legged ‘French’ cousins) thrive on the estate and the berney wanted to honour them and The Grey Partridge Project, by naming our main restaurant area “The Grey Partridge Room”.
Since the inception of The Grey Partridge Project in 2009, when 41 breeding pairs were counted and were surviving against all odds, the Project has promoted a holistic approach to increasing grey partridge numbers on the estate.
This has involved improving the breeding environment by planting hedgerows to provide better shelter, increasing the height of the hedgerows to limit overhead predation, bolstering the insect population by cultivating flower margins to sustain the chicks (they can only eat insects in their first two weeks), and managing predation through vigilant gamekeeping and vermin control.
Integral to this has been the cooperation of the farm which has adjusted its farming practices and dedicated 5% of its land to support the habitat required for a wild bird population to flourish.
The efforts undertaken to conserve the grey partridge have had a very positive knock-on effect too. Biodiversity has improved, as well as the habitat for scores of other birds including plover, linnets, waxwings, stone curlew, corn bunting, yellow hammer and sky lark. A rare Corncrake even visited us this year!
The conservation work was recognised in 2016, the estate being the recipient of the Mills and Reeve Grey Partridge Award
The Grey Partridge Project continues its mission to protect and champion the grey partridge and it has proudly recorded up to 310 breeding pairs during the annual count (400 breeding pairs is the ambitious target).
Long may it continue and let’s protect, respect and conserve an important English game bird.