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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

30 September, 2016

Red-legged Partridge: the French connection

With our native grey partridge now really scarce in this county if you see a partridge it is most likely going to be the red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa). That said, seeing a partridge at all in Dorset is not a common sight.
The red-legged is far more colourful than its grey counterpart and so identification should not be too difficult and if you do not get a clear view you will find that when disturbed the grey will readily take flight whereas the red-legged is far more likely to stay on the ground and run away in a small group (a covey).
If you are going to find partridge then it will almost certainly be on farmland as they are, of course, bred for shooting on estates and farms. Without this captive breeding for 'sport' there would be no partridge at all now as the red-legged was introduced for that very purpose. The species originates from southern France and Iberia and not being native they can suffer from the British climate and in bad weather in summer young birds frequently perish if wet and cold. Supplied food helps them trough the winter.
The red-legged partridge is also known as he French partridge because of the area of their origin.

Red-legged Partridge: the French connection