Rural workers can help to conserve grey partridges by taking part in this year's population count.

Keepers, farmers and land managers are being urged to take part in the Partridge Count Scheme this spring.

The annual monitoring initiative, which started in 1933, is led by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and collects information on the breeding success of grey partridges, which have been in steep decline since the 1960s.

Gaining a better understanding

Whether you own a small field or a large estate, by taking the time to record partridge numbers on your land, participants can contribute to a better understanding of how the birds are faring across the country and which management measures appear to be working.

Neville Kingdon, the GWCT scientist co-ordinating the results of the scheme, said: “This really is the time when we need you to log details of the numbers you have on your land. In general, partridge numbers have been in decline since World War II due to a range of factors, but taking part in the count will help provide results on the current limitations.

“Management for grey partridges has additional benefits for the diversity of wildlife you see on your land or shoot, with increases in arable flora, farmland invertebrates and farmland birds all possible.”

Take your time when counting

Mr Kingdon said that each count can be done in the morning or the evening and added: “It’s best not to attempt everything all at once, take your time when counting, as the results give us an idea as to what’s happening on the ground.

“There are no restrictions on how many partridges you need to have as each and every one matters and all counts are submitted to the Trust’s national database.”

There are currently 15 regional PCS groups which meet to provide face-to-face explanations on how to manage land effectively for grey partridges.

Factsheets on habitat creation, management and predation control are also available for download from the GWCT’s advisory web pages.

To take part in the count and for more details, email partridgecount scheme@gwct.org.uk.