Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Lots of fun on a "grey" themed evening!

John Phillips addressing this enthusiastic crowd!

Grey partridge are a much loved bird in our countryside and nearly always attract a good audience when we put on a GWCT event to promote best practice for this iconic farmland bird. Last night was no exception as around 60 people turned up at John Phillip’s Far Hill Farm near Fairford in Gloucestershire on a lovely summers evening.

John is last year’s winner of the Cotswold Grey partridge trophy, which is so kindly sponsored by Calmsden Ltd. The trophy is awarded to the person that the judges feel has done the most in the area for the Grey partridge by providing suitable nesting, brood rearing and over-wintering habitats across the farm, as well as supplementary feeding over-winter and targeted predator control.

John farms organically and has put in a wonderful array of different habitats and in particular, the visitors thoroughly enjoyed looking at his striking wild flower margins that grow alongside his incredibly weed free good looking organic crops!

At each stop there was question after question about the intricacies of managing farmland for Greys and other wildlife – indeed we discussed brown hares, lady’s bedstraw, chicory, corn buntings, skylarks and beneficial insects! I could go on!! In between each stop, as people walked along the track-ways through the farm, there was constant chatter, which is of course why so many people attend these events – not only because they love grey partridges but also to meet up with fellow enthusiasts to chat about all things “green”!  (They also attend because it offers a great chance to “snoop” around someone else’s farm!!)

The GWCT grey partridge count scheme is the biggest farmer led scheme in Europe with over 800 people counting their Greys each spring and autumn and sending the results into us to analyse. We also have around a dozen grey partridge groups’ right across the country – the Cotswold group being one of these.     

Do these groups and interested people actually make a difference though? Well yes they most certainly do. For instance, there was an 81% increase in partridge pairs on count farms from 2000 to 2010 when over the country as a whole there was a national decline of 30% in same period. So, still a lot more work to be done, but this core of enthusiasts are spreading the word and proving that modern farming and wildlife CAN co-exist.

Last night we finished up with a Bar-B-Q and a drink or two, where the chatter got even louder, rounding off a splendid evening.

My thanks go to John and his wife Rachel for working so hard to put on such a successful event and for showing us around their beautiful farm.  
If you want to find out more about these grey partridge groups - contact Neville Kingdon at : for more information  

Chat, chat, chat - a big part of the evening is catching up with like-minded folk!

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