Home range and habitat use of the endangered grey partridge (perdix perdix) in the Irish midlands.
O’GORMAN, E.C., KAVANAGH, B. and ROCHFORD,J.: HOME RANGE AND HABITAT USE BY THE ENDANGERED GREY PARTRIDGE (Perdix perdix) IN THE IRISH MIDLANDS: The last potentially viable population of native Irish Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix) is located over a 25 km2 area at Boora bog, Co. Offaly, in the Irish midlands. The habitat is a mosaic of cutaway bogland, coniferous forestry, newly created farmland and wetlands. Since 1996 a combination of predation control and the provision of habitat strips has been the focus of conservation efforts in Boora in an attempt to increase partridge numbers in the short-term. The aim of this study is to provide baseline information on partridge movements and habitat use in the conservation site. The result of two years fieldwork is presented. An area of 18 km2 was mapped during the course of fielwork. Nine male birds were radio-tracked. The biological time periods (B.T.P.) calculated for breeding pairs were Exploration, Prelay, Lay, Incubation, Brood rearing, Primary and Secondqary covey movements. The home range varied in size and location from one B.T.P. to the next. This was linked to habitat availability. Breeding attempts occurred in young forestry plantations and newly created habitat strips within the cutaway bog area. The coveys left the cutaway bog area in late summer to feed on nerby pasture. A second movement in late Autumn was made to utilise winter stubbles on adjacent farmland. Birds returned to breeding sites in the cutaway bog area the following spring. The practical applications of the findings to the conservation effort are discussed.