Celebrated farmland birds are disappearing from the countryside at such alarming rates that they are in danger of extinction, experts believe.

Their warning follows the publication of new DEFRA statistics, largely based on bird-monitoring schemes organised by the British Trust for Ornithology through its volunteer network, which show that species such as grey partridge and turtle dove have shown the most marked declines of all the UK’s wild birds.

There are estimated to be around 43,000 pairs of grey partridges in the UK, a 30 per cent fall over the past fi ve years. Turtle dove numbers have dropped by 60 per cent over the same period.

RSPB scientist Mark Eaton said: “Losing six out of 10 of our turtle doves and three out of 10 grey partridges in five years is nothing short of an unsustainable wildlife disaster.

The rest of this article appears in the 19th December issue of Shooting Times.

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