I was very pleased to see that my first pair of released grey partridges are still hanging around the remains of the game cover. I was worried about them after five and six foot high snow drifts buried their feed hopper, but was planting blackthorn trees in the new hedge this morning and heard a very familiar little chuckle coming from the open field behind me. I had to look for some time before I saw the two little shapes dustbathing on a pile of molehills fifty yards away. Their camouflage really is quite impressive, and by the time that I had run back to the car for the camera, I then had to look hard to find them again.
It really was a huge pleasure to see these birds. Grey partridges were originally a bit of an offshoot of my black grouse project, but they are fast becoming firm favourites. Deep stripes of snow still run in parallel lines across the remains of the game cover, but in two months it will be under a new mixture of seeds. I was particularly impressed with wild flower mixes last year, and I was thrilled that the radish flowers attracted enough insects to draw in a family of spotted flycatchers. I need to put some thought into precisely what I will sow this year, and I’m already looking forward to it.