There are two species of partridges to be found in the British Isles. The native English grey partridge and the introduced French or red-legged partridge. While the “French invaders” currently have numerical supremacy in the UK, both are popular game birds. There are intensive efforts currently underway across the UK to improve the numbers of English Partridge.
The decline of the English Partridge has been well documented with loss of habitat being cited as the main reason for the bird’s severe drop in numbers over the past 50-100 years. In a bid to make more land into arable fields, miles of hedgerows were ripped up. With the removal of the hedgerows went the bird’s protective cover and a major portion of its food source. Pesticides used to kill insects that attack the crops also added to the demise of the grey partridge as these were a major food source for the partridge chicks in late spring.
Rethinking the use of cereal crop pesticides, intensive replanting of hedgerows and other trees and predator control have helped conservationists and gamekeepers in raising the numbers of wild English partridges.
Both the French and the English Partridge provide exhilarating sport with their quick flight speed and their tendency to fly close to the ground and then burst over hedgerows to only briefly offer Guns a fleeting shot at them. With the wind behind them they can be lightning fast across the ground. They tend to lift in coveys and do not fly far before trying to settle back onto the ground for protection.
Walked up partridge shooting over pointers is excellent sport as the birds short flight distances usually allows the Gun and his dog several attempts at the same covey as they move from field to adjoining field.