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Grey Partridge

A now scarce species of open grassland and almost totally lost from our farmland

Photograph by: 
Ian Ballam

The grey partridge (Perdix perdix) was once a common sight on farmland, usually in fallow fields, where it inhabitat fringes of hedgerows where it fed mainly on insects. A popular game species it was shot in large numbers but the population held up due to intervention by gamekeepers to support rearing of new stock. It was the increased use of pesticides and a switch to winter wheat crops, however, that led to the serious  decline in grey partridge and now they have virtually disappeared from farms and have been replaced by the imported red-legged partridge as a target species for the guns.

A grey partridge anywhere is now an uncommon sight in Dorset but it does hang on in some wild, open, uncultivated grassland areas and they have been recorded from places like St Adlems Head on the Purbeck coast, Badbury Rings and Maiden Castle; sites that all fit the habitat described.

They are a resident species and can be seen all year round; that is if you are lucky enough to see them of course! Just to make finding them harder they are most active at dawn and dusk and are always reluctant to fly unless flushed. Although like like to like in small groups (or covey's) that does not make finding tem any easier as they are well camouflaged in their natural environment.


Grey Partridge: Gone but not forgotten

Common Name Grey Partridge
Scientific Name Perdix perdix
Species Group Birds Game
Status Scarce
Interest Level
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Look for

A group of a dozen or so plump grey birds running on the ground

Identification Notes
  • Small, plump, mainly grey birds with a small head and short legs
  • Scarce now and seen mainly on wild, open grassland habitats rather than on farms
  • Most active at dawn and dusk  
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Game