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Wild Perdix perdix.


JDog
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I had given up hope of seeing any decent broods this year. On one farm I knew of eight pairs this spring and early summer. Seven are barren and one has three chicks.

Today my hopes were raised somewhat. From a farm track a covey ran into a stubble and stayed put no more than 20m from my car. I counted three adults and fourteen chicks. Just now I went to a barley stubble just outside the village and put up four adults and seventeen chicks which flopped a similar distance away from me. I presume that two families had come together with this second lot.

 

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We have got a few barren pairs of English Partridges but have yet to see and broods of young , now the harvest is all but over we might get the odd report of any young on the stubbles .

It used to be believed that reared Greys don't produce any young because the old birds don't know how to look after them due to been hatched out in an incubator , this could well be fiction rather than fact .

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Nature vs Nurture is something I don't think we'll ever fully understand.

If a creature such as a partridge displays instinctive behaviour to do one thing, such as go to stubbles to forage, then why is it devoid of another type of instinctive behaviour, namely to do all the right things to bring off a brood?  I think there are more complicated matters involved such as changes in predators, food chain, farming practices, gamekeeping practices.... despite all the research nobody's got a clue, otherwise the country would be teeming with them?  Or the truth might be obvious but nobody dare say it?

Glad you saw them @JDog, it really does lift your spirits 👍

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Over the last few weeks I have seen several coveys of greys and several pheasants brood's over a short time a lot of the young have disappeared, we have a very large number of Kites and buzzards in this area and I have had them attack my decoys on more than one occasion, I wonder if this is the reason for the lost young?     

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Foxes, Weasels, Stoats, Hedgehogs, Crows, Magpies, Jays, Buzzards and Sparrow hawks all deplete the wild game bird population. Agricultural sprays also have a severe impact.

I only see wild birds where there are some decent hedges, grass margins and rough areas left uncultivated.

Edited by JDog
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There is almost zero food for grey partridge chicks in the average field of wheat, barley or rape.  That is why numbers have crashed. Lack of insects for chick food due to sterile arable mono cultures.  But also remember grey partridge have evolved to withstand high predation rates, that is why they have such large broods, you can have six pairs on a farm and lose five pairs to foxes and sparrow hawks, but if the sixth pair brings off a decent lot then you will still have a stable population. Conversely remove predators and provide the right habitat numbers can build up very quickly over a few years if the weather is kind. 

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On 07/09/2021 at 13:50, scolopax said:

There is almost zero food for grey partridge chicks in the average field of wheat, barley or rape.  That is why numbers have crashed. Lack of insects for chick food due to sterile arable mono cultures.  But also remember grey partridge have evolved to withstand high predation rates, that is why they have such large broods, you can have six pairs on a farm and lose five pairs to foxes and sparrow hawks, but if the sixth pair brings off a decent lot then you will still have a stable population. Conversely remove predators and provide the right habitat numbers can build up very quickly over a few years if the weather is kind. 

Scolopax you’re spot on. The deathnell for greys was agricultural intensification. The main problem being a dominance of winter wheat in the landscape. If you dig down in to the detail, what actually happens is this…….

Grey partridges chicks are genetically programmed to bolt for cover when disturbed. When they bolt from the edge of a wheat crop (from the headland), they invariably run in to the crop. Unfortunately when this happens, they frequently stay in the crop and starve to death. The crop is essentially a green desert. Also, they are highly dependent on insect larvae in their first 6 weeks for feather development. So even if the chicks don’t starve, their feather development is delayed  - prolonging their vulnerability to predators. 
 

The research has all been done and we know what the problems are. It’s a question of providing decent habitat quality. Actually, I have been seeing a few coveys in and around the new ‘green crops’. Just my own observation, but I hope there’s something beneficial going on. 

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Saw my first two pheasant poults this morning. They did not look like released birds and where a good mile from any release pen.  Reports in North Warwicks of disease in birds so do not forget to get that medication in or buy the medicated feed.

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