Species: Red-legged Partridge
Latin Name: Alectoris Rufa
Average fly speed: 30-35mph
Where to shoot: Spain, France, Portugal
Shooting Season: For Great Britain, Partridge shooting season runs from 1st September – 1st February. For Northern Ireland, it’s 1st September – 31st February.
Description: Partridge shooting is one of the most exciting and exhilarating of game bird pursuits. With its deceiving wing beat, speed and exceptional skill in hugging the landscape the Partridge is a very challenging quarry to shoot, which makes it all the more desirable.
The Red-legged Partridge is not native to Britain, but stock from France was successfully introduced to East Anglia in about 1770. Although becoming well established by the end of the century, its spread across Great Britain was slow and its current distribution was not reached until the 1930s.
Despite its introduced status, the conservation of the Red-legged Partridge in Britain is important because the natural range of the species is restricted almost entirely to three of the European countries, France, Spain and Portugal, where numbers are declining.
Due to its Mediterranean origin, the red-legged Partridge thrives on dry areas of sandy soils and breeds most successfully in the highest of summer temperatures. It has been less susceptible than its smaller relative the grey Partridge to the reduction of cereal insects since the 1950s because its chicks consume considerably more seeds and vegetation even imminently post-hatch.
In the wild: In the wild, the hen bird commonly lays two clutches in which she will incubate one herself and allow the other for the cock. Therefore, this will allow for the potential to produce two broods simultaneously.
The Red-legged Partridge is very attractive for sporting estates to rear and release due to the red-legged Partridges ability to lay more in captivity. Since starting in 1963, this practice increased very quickly as it was seen as a means of maintaining a partridge shoot despite the decline of the Grey.
The numbers of released pure red-legged Partridges are estimated at about 6 million birds a year and the British population size is estimated to lie between 90,000 and 250,000 pairs.