GREY PARTRIDGE numbers have made a seven fold recovery thanks to sympathetic management practices in a trial on a Hertfordshire farm, latest results show.

Autumn count figures showed partridge numbers increased from 7.6 birds per 100ha in 2001 before the project started, to 53.3 birds per 100ha in 2004, according to the Game Conservancy Trust.

The 1,000ha site near Royston has been intensively managed by the Trust for grey partridges and the numbers were a “fantastic outcome” after a mediocre breeding season, said the GCT‘s Nick Sotherton.

“We now have a good stock to work with and it is our hope that the young produced this season will survive winter and go on to breed next year.”

As part of the Government‘s UK Biodiversity Action Plan for the grey partridge the Trust aims to halt the national decline in numbers by 2005.

“The next spring count in 2005 will therefore be crucial to demonstrate that we are starting to turn the corner and that we can meet our first Government BAP target,” he said.

He urged farmers to follow the GCT‘s management criteria for encouraging grey partridges, which include protection from predators, creating good habitats and supplementary feeding.

A conservation guide can be downloaded from the Trust‘s website at www.gct.org.uk.