The Irish grey partridge conservation strategy: an update 1995-1998.
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KAVANAGH, B.P., O'GORMAN,C.,AND BUCKLEY, C.: THE IRISH GREY PARTRIDGE (PERDIX PERDIX) CONSERVATION STRATEGY: AN UPDATE 1995-1998.In May 1996 a strategy for the conservation of the last remaining population of the Irish Grey partridge was initiated. The strategy is a multipronged approach based on a) predation reduction, b) habitat improvement and c) monitoring of the birds’ response. A full-time game keeper was employed to reduce red fox (Vulpes vulpes), mink (Mustella vison), stoat (Mustella erminea), rat (Rattus norvegicus), grey crow (Corvus corone cornix)and magpie (Pica pica) numbers in a defined study area of 1,000 hectares of cutaway bog at Boora in County Offaly. The habitatis a mozaic of cutaway bogland, conferous forestry, newly created farmland and wetland. The area contianed 6-8 pairs of breeding grey partridge in spring 1996. Bare peat areas within the study area were selected and a mix of either grasser or grains were planted in 0,2 hectare blocks to provide nesting or chick rearing cover for birds. These plots were neither sprayed or harvested and have been left to develop naturally after planting. Fifteen hectares were planted over two years, 1996-97. In spring 1997 a number of male partridges were trapped and fitted with radio collars. Their home range and habitat preferences were recorded continuously for up to ten months. Radio-tracked birds were recorded leaving the keepered area and moving to winter stubble fields on adjoining farmland. Two successful coveys were produced in 1996 which resulted in a autumn count of 27 partridges in the study area. In spring 1997 the population in the study area was again 6-8 pairs. Two successful coveys were again produced in 1997 giving an autumn population was 23 birds within the study area. Winter survival in 1997/98 was poor. In spring 1998 only 4-6 pairs of partridges were found in the study area. Partridge numbers continue to decline both within and outside the study area. The remaining population is now less than 20 breeding pairs in total.