A quick guide to the grey partridge
The grey partridge arrived naturally in Scotland from its home on the Steppes following the Ice Age It was the most popular sporting quarry of 1880s and 1900s. Between 1870 and 1930 around two million grey partridges were shot annually. After World War II, numbers dropped by 80% in 40 years, with the British Trust for Ornithology documenting a decline of 91% from 1967 to 2010. Despite the GWCT’s target to have 160,000 breeding pairs across the UK by 2020, the number of breeding pairs has fallen to just 43,000. After covey break-up in January and February, grey partridge will disperse, with unpaired male juveniles moving furthest. The maximum distance for males was 4.7km, with females moving just 2.7km. Mortality is lowest during the covey period (Dec-Jan), and highest during the pairing period (Feb-Mar). Males suffer from higher mortality than females, with overwinter mortality mainly caused by raptors (predominantly female sparrowhawks), followed by mammals (predominantly foxes). Greys are not an important food source for buzzards, but peregrines and hen harriers will hunt them.
Super quarry: Between 1880-1930, two million grey partridge were shot each year.