Following one of the warmest springs on record, the Met Office last week forecast a high probability that summer temperatures will exceed the 1971 to 2000 long-term average of 14.1°C, prompting shooters to hark back to the summer of 1976 ? widely remembered in shooting circles as a bumper year for wild game.

Malcolm Brockless, gamekeeper for the Game Conservancy Trust (GCT) grey partridge recovery demonstration project at Royston, in Hertfordshire, is celebrating this year after spring counts recorded dramatic increases in pairs of wild greys. His assertion is that this is principally down to management rather than weather, however, and he was hesitant to make predictions for the coming summer.

Separately, figures relating to the GCT?s work at Royston revealed this week that grey partridge numbers on the farms keepered by Mr Brockless have increased enormously since the project began. Dr Nicholas Aebischer, the GCT?s deputy director of research, commented: ?The spring 2007 grey partridge count gave a density of 18.4 pairs per 100ha (250 acres). This was a feather?s breadth away from the target of 18.6 pairs per 100ha that we had predicted when the project began, based on statements made in our game management book, A Question of Balance. This excellent result represents a six-fold increase over the starting density of 2.9 pairs per 100ha in spring 2002.? To take part in the GCT?s grey partridge count scheme, tel (01425) 651066.