This important new initiative has been set up by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust in a bid to try and boost grey partridge numbers across the Somerset, Devon and Cornwall region.

Peter Thompson, a farmland biodiversity advisor with the Trust said: “Grey partridges have declined faster in the south-west region than any other part of the country. There are probably no more than a couple of thousand partridges left in the region, on an area of 1.3million hectares, which means birds on the ground are very few and far between.”

On a national basis, the grey partridge has suffered a massive decline over the past 30 years and its population has plummeted from over a million pairs in Edwardian times to just 65,000 pairs.

However, this latest initiative in the south-west now means that most people interested in grey partridge conservation should have access to a regional partridge recovery group.

Thompson said: “We are delighted Lord Devon has agreed to chair this group as I am sure his enthusiasm will be an inspiration. The aim of these groups is to compare notes, exchange ideas and receive regular updates on what is needed to manage the land for the benefit of grey partridges. Members are also encouraged to join the Trust’s Partridge Count Scheme, which involves counting grey partridges twice a year (even if they only have one or two birds) so that we can monitor the bird’s recovery. But we really do need a major effort in the region if we are to prevent this bird from disappearing completely.”

To join the South-West Grey Partridge Group, or for copies of the Trust’s free fact sheets, please contact Neville Kingdon at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust on 01425 651066 or email nkingdon@gct.org.uk