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Grey Partridges, Portbury

Caswell Farm

A truly inspirational picture but it serves the purpose: a) of providing a landmark (ST487749 if anyone’s interested); and b) of showing how hard it was to identify these birds this morning. They were at the far side of the field, a good 700 feet distant, which is a long way for a foot-long species.

I picked up the first of them a little further down the road – so without the benefit even of resting on the railings. I knew it wasn’t a pheasant although it was doing its best to confuse me by adopting an uncharacteristic upright stance. I think the continuous tail-flicking gave it away more than anything. Pheasants just don’t do that. The lone bird also obligingly passed in front of a brace of female pheasants and the size difference was striking.

Having said which, at a distance grey partridges look brown. True, if they turn there’s a contrast with a paler breast but I really needed the occasional flash of what I wrote as a pinky, head to be confident of the identification. The head is actually orange. My bird joined three others, which then joined… a bit hard to count but 20 seemed reasonable.

I wrote down some field marks then got back on them, down to 10, before realising that they were another 10 because the 20 were off to their right. Reckon that makes 30 in all. Compared with the numbers in the Avon Bird Report, the local patch looks like quite a stronghold for them this year. It’ll be interesting to see how many are left next spring.

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