ONE of the leading icons of the countryside – the wild grey partridge – recently described as one of our most rapidly declining farmland birds, is fighting back and showing an 81 per cent increase on land that is being specifically managed for the species.

A new review offers renewed hope for the grey partridge by identifying the three main causes for its decline: loss of nesting habitat, poor chick survival through insect loss and increased predator pressure.

It also identifies the costeffective solutions for fasttracking recovery.

The review carried out by Dr Nicholas Aebischer, deputy director of research with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, highlights that where land managers are specifically targeting grey partridge recovery by providing year-round habitat management, supplementary feeding and predator control, grey partridges are showing an impressive rise in their numbers.

He said: “The GWCT’s partridge count scheme, which has been monitoring partridge numbers on estates nationwide for more that 70 years, has shown a significant 81 per cent increase in partridge pairs from 2000 to 2010.

“Our count scheme clearly demonstrates that we know exactly what to do to reverse the decline.

“It would be an absolute travesty if we were to lose this iconic species through lack of effort, not through lack of knowledge.”