The Roxburghe Estates Grey partridge restoration project started in 2012, and covered approximately 4,000 acres of farmland. The Estate’s Key objective at the time was to improve wild grey partridge numbers however the work that has been undertaken to improve partridge numbers has also increased numbers of waders, farmland birds and brown hares in the area. As the project has progressed partridges have started to spread out from the initial conservation area and the surrounding farms to the north of the Tweed. The project now covers a total of 6,000 acres of which 4,000 acres is tenanted land and 2,000 acres is in hand farms.
The latest spring pair counts have shown that numbers have risen from just 43 pairs in 2012 to 272 across the entire conservation area in 2021. I can testify to the success of the enterprise myself, as we used to live in a village around where the project was being carried out. Along with our regular garden birds, we often had groups of Grey Partridge feeding on the ground around the feeders. Great little birds.
Improving habitat is the best way to increase partridge numbers, there will be less dispersal of pairs, and partridges will hold better with better habitat. The two main types of habitat required to increase partridge numbers are hedges and field margins. New hedgerows not only benefit the Partridges, but a wide variety of other species, and with half the hedgerows in Britain having vanished since the mid 1940s, replenishment of these vital ecosystems is of benefit to biodiversity of birds, mammals and invertebrates.