RESEARCH shows that the wild grey partridge is on the brink of extinction in many parts of the country because of a shortage of insect-rich habitats, it is claimed.
The species has suffered an 85 per cent decline in numbers over 40 years, diminishing to less than 60,000 pairs.
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust says the birds need more spaces rich in soft-bodied, slow-moving insects to prevent young chicks from starving to death.
“We have suffered atrociously wet conditions over the past few summers, when chicks first hatch and this has hampered grey partridge recovery,” said Prof Nick Sotherton, the trust’s director of research.
“Although we cannot control the weather, our research shows that by creating the right habitats, young chicks will not only have shelter from heavy rain and protection from predators, they will also have insect-rich foraging areas, where they can thrive.
“Our latest counts show that it is possible to reverse these declines, but we need to expand this progress to the farmed landscape.”
In an effort to boost grey partridge habitats, the trust has produced a series of factsheets showing how and when to plant insect-rich brood rearing areas.