Making the grey partridge survey count

A countrywide bird survey is using its 90th birthday to call on farmers and land managers to join and commit to supporting wildlife.

Since 1933, the Partridge Count Scheme (PCS), run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), has asked volunteers to count grey partridges twice a year and submit their results to a national database.

“The future of the grey partridge rests in the hands of those who farm and manage our countryside, through the land management measures that they can implement,” says Neville Kingdon, who runs the PCS. “Grey partridges face many of the same challenges as other farmland wildlife: food supply, nesting cover and the impacts of predation.”

The wild grey partridge, Perdix perdix, was once widespread but is now one of the UK’s fastest-declining bird species, with numbers having plummeted by 92 per cent between 1967 and 2020 (according to the British Trust for Ornithology). This is bad news for wider farmland biodiversity.

Neville explains: “The grey partridge is one of the best indicators of farmland ecosystem health; where they thrive, biodiversity is high but in areas where few or no partridges exist, the farm environment is typically much poorer for wildlife.

“Understanding how grey partridge are faring can give you a clearer picture of the health of your land. By joining the Partridge Count Scheme and carrying out some simple monitoring, you can better understand the causes of their decline and learn how to support this wonderful bird.”

The free scheme asks those taking part to spend a few hours counting the wild grey partridges on their land in the spring and autumn. Volunteers will receive instructions and after the count will be sent site-specific feedback on how their partridges are faring and what could be holding them back. What counts uncover can provide an early warning of a problem, enabling land managers to make small incremental changes to the way they manage the land which will also benefit many other species.

It also provides vital data to scientists and policymakers on long-term trends and the effect that positive game and habitat management can have on grey partridges, while offering practical guidance to farmers and game managers on how to support them.

Landowners, managers and gamekeepers can find more information and join the scheme at