Irish Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix) Survey 1991, with special reference to population and habitat use in cutaway bogland.
The grey partridge (Perdix perdix) is an endemic breeding bird in Ireland. A decline in the population reported towards the end of the 19th century, has continued to the present day. The most recent survey has reported partridges in only ten 10-km squares (< 1 %) throughout the whole country. In the early part of 1991 the author gathered together all available information on the present distribution of partridges in Ireland. A questionnaire, requesting information on the location of partridges was circulated to Wildlife Rangers and Regional Officers. Open letters to the I.W.C. (Irish Wildbird Conservancy) and the Shooting News magazines and an article in the Farmers Journal were published. The British Trust for Ornithology made their data from the ongoing national breeding bird survey available to me. Wild partridges were only recorded in seven of the twenty-six counties in the Irish Republic. A further seven counties have birds of recently released origin while the remaining twelve counties have either no records or negative records based on the questionnaire.
A survey of two discrete populations on two cutaway boglands (Boora and Lullymore) was conducted in August 1991. Data on the remaining population on the cutaways and on the breeding success of the population based on a total August count of a 4-km2 sample of each area were recorded. 23 partridges, 96 pheasants, Phasianus colchicus, plus some snipes, Gallinago gallinago, mallards, Anas platyrhynchos, hares, Lepus timidus, and a corncrake, Crex crex, were flushed. Clear differences were seen between the two cutraways with greater numbers of pheasants on Lullymore and partridges on Boora. The present density of partridges at Boora is estimated 2-3 pairs.km2 of suitable habitat and approximately half this at Lullymore cutaway. The absence of any coveys of more than six birds would suggest poor breeding performance in 1991. This work highlights the seriousness of the decline of the grey partridge in Ireland, the importance of the cutaway bogs for the remaining birds and the urgent need for a more in-dept study, with management of the species if we are to conserve it for future generations.