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Post Info TOPIC: Species in Focus - Grey Partridge.

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RE: Species in Focus - Grey Partridge.

A few days ago, an adult Grey Partridge was present with a small juvenile for company in a newly cut hay field opposite the entrance to the Sandyforth site between Windy Arbour and Downall Green, Wigan. I didn't get around to putting it on the forum at the time and was meaning to do it this weekend...
As there's quite a bit of hay being cut at the moment it's probably worth checking such fields. Buzzards also seem attracted to these fields too.


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All Greater Manchester (GM) birders will undoubtedly be aware that the Grey Partridge is one of those species that has undergone a considerable decline over recent decades. It is now possible to go out birding in GM and not see one for days, weeks, months....or maybe even years! At the time of our last atlas the county's population was estimated to be about 300 pairs and given its decline and with the benefit of a quick look at our records to date for our current atlas project, then it is probable that the present population must surely be some way short of that total? But by just how much has the population declined and where are its remaining "strongholds", if indeed there are any? To help answer these questions, we therefore urgently require details of all sightings for this particular species. As usual, please don't forget to include the appropriate breeding code when inputting your records at http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdatlas

So, where does this species actually stand at the end of the 2010 breeding season in comparison to BBGM? The total number of 2 km by 2 km squares across the whole of GM with confirmed breeding stood at a very lowly total of just 6 tetrads. This is only a mere 9% of the total of 67 tetrads with confirmed breeding noted at the time of our last atlas. The small number of confirmed breeding records (including a few tetrads where breeding was confirmed in more than one year) were reported between 1st June and 27th August - with 3 for June, 4 for July and 3 for August.

So where might be the best places to look for this species in the final summer of our atlas project? BBGM noted Grey Partridge to be "mainly associated with arable and meadowland and pasture, usually below an altitude of 200 metres. Therefore it is not expected to breed in moorland, urban or dense-suburban tetrads". Does this still hold true today? Several recent county bird reports have told of confirmed breeding from upland areas and the moorland fringes, so such areas should definitely not be discounted, when we are out bird watching in 2011. The mosslands and those farms where the land is managed more "sympathetically" remain the other likely locations. Early in the breeding season adults register their territories by reciting their "kerricking" song, usually at dawn or dusk. This call/song can be heard here. So if we already suspect that birds are holding territories, from hearing repeated song or from frequent sightings, then why not visit that location a little later in the breeding season, in an attempt to prove breeding? This species is probably easiest to confirm as a breeder when the adults have a large covey of small and as yet flightless young in attendance - use code FL - recently fledged young or downy young.

This is a much loved bird and it is really sad to see that it has undergone such a decline. Remember, it is only with knowledge of where this species is located in GM, that we might have any chance whatsoever of arresting or reversing its fortunes. Your records therefore are very, very important. Please try to find the time to input all records for this species in 2011 - be it for possible, probable or confirmed breeding categories. Many thanks.

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