Recent wet weather will mean 2012 is a below-average year for wild gamebirds, but estates can mitigate their losses by ensuring the availability of insect-rich habitat, says the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).

The wettest June since records began in 1910 has played havoc with the work of gamekeepers, and grey partridge numbers, in particular, have been hit hard. The GWCT?s Peter Thompson said: ?When the rain goes on for day after day like this, it makes things difficult. I?ve had a lot of keepers ringing me up, and they are just really fed up after working so hard all year.

?Pheasants hatch over quite a long period of time ? they start at the end of April and they are still hatching out now ? so they have a better chance of hitting some half-decent weather.

?But the vast majority of grey partridges hatch in the middle two weeks of June, and all through that time it was not only wet, but it was actually quite windy and cold too, and that was a real problem.

?Having said all that, some estates ? those with all the right provisions in place ? will still do better than others.

?If a chick can come out and feed in lots of insect-rich habitat ? things like conservation headlands and harvested cereal strips ? they can get back in the warm quicker and their chances of survival will be that much greater.?

The rest of this article appears in the 11th July issue of Shooting Times.

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