THE GREY

A quick guide to the grey par­tridge

Scottish Field - - WILD GREY PARTRIDGES -

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.

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