Grey Partridge – 2003-07 breeding

Perdix perdixPetrisenArtificially maintained

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed62
Breeding probable1
Breeding possible13
No of tetrads occupied8 (of 478)5 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads1.7% 1%

Considered to be fairly common in Pembrokeshire at the end of the 19th century, the grey partridge was in decline by the middle of the 20th century. By the time of the 1984-88 survey it was barely hanging on, surviving only because of additional birds released for shooting. The position remained precarious at the time of the 2003-07 survey and it is doubtful that a self sustaining population existed. Most modern farming practices produce conditions which do not suit Grey Partridges.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

Rees, et al. 2008, Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pembrokeshire 2003-07. Pembrokeshire Bird Group.

More about the Grey Partridge in Pembrokeshire

Grey Partridge – 1994

Perdix perdixPetrisenArtificially maintained

1984-88
Breeding confirmed6
Breeding probable1
Breeding possible1
No of tetrads occupied8 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads1.7%

Mathew (1894) knew the Grey Partridge as a fairly common resident, commonest in the south of the county. The game bag returns for the Stackpole Estate puts some measure on this, for 80 were shot in 1889 and 101 in 1890. Wintle (1924) recorded an occasional covey on Caldey Island and noted periodic releases there. Lloyd’s diaries for 1925 to 1936 refer to the Grey Partridge as being a “pretty uncommon species” in Pembrokeshire except on the Castle Martin peninsula, which he attributed to “Lord Cawdor’s game preserving habits”. Lockley et al. (1949) noted a decrease “due to the use of rabbit gin traps”. They also noted that Grey Partridges had occasionally nested on Ramsey Island. Lockley (1961) stated that they had become a scarce resident in the south-west peninsula and several observers commented on a continued decline in the county into the 1970s.

The Grey Partridge has declined nationally since the introduction of pesticides, which reduce the availability of insect food, so vital at the chick stage. Very few, usually single birds or small coveys, were seen in Pembrokeshire during the 1980s to early 1990s, although breeding was noted at Hendre Eynon in 1984. Most reports were accompanied by a note that they had been introduced, in localities as far apart as Llanfyrnach in the north and Caldey Island in the south. Recent releases have favoured Red-legged Partridges rather than this species, for which the future in Pembrokeshire looks bleak.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

LLOYD, B. 1925—1939. Diaries. National Library of Wales.

LOCKLEY R. M. 1961. The south-west peninsula. Nature in Wales 7: 124-133

WINTLE, W.J. 1924. Some Caldey birds Pax 71:133-139

More about the Grey Partridge in Pembrokeshire

Grey Partridge – Historical records

COMMON PARTRIDGE – Perdix perdix perdix

Ice Age

Bones of Grey Partridge, dating to just before and just after the maximum of the Last Glaciation, 22,000 years ago, have been discovered at two caves in Pembrokeshire: Hoyle’s Mouth and Little Hoyle.

Eastham A. (2016) Goosey goosey Gander with Jemima Shelduck in attendance: two Stone Age occupation caves in South Pembrokeshire. Pembrokeshire Historical Society.


17th Century – Owen listed it as breeding in his ‘Description of Pembrokeshire (1603).

In 1889 1,273 birds were shot at Stackpole Court (Matheson 190)


All of the following records and comments were collected by Graham Rees and have been transcribed from his files.

1889 – 80 shot Stackpole Estate, (Box I-239)

1890 – 101 shot Stackpole Estate, (Box I-239)

1908 – “I seen a P on the watering, the first I have seen on the island” Diary of Ivor Arnold, vide R.Howe11s,1968

1924 – Caldey: “An occasional covey is met with, but the bird is not a permanent resident. Attempts have been made to reintroduce it from time to time, but have failed through the neamess of the mainland, to which the birds are apt to fly if disturbed, when they fail to return.”  Wintle 1924.


The following (1925-35) are extracts from Bertram Lloyd’s diaries: 

1925 – 25 Dec.3, Pennar Farm;  “seen” Litt1e Haven, 1 July

1927 – 13, Jan: “On the moors above Newport(at about 600 ft.) a flock of 6 not a common bird here, for these are the first I’ve seen in a month” However, several near St, David’ s, 17, 18 & 27, Feb.  21 June: “Some near Treglemais.”

1928 – 20 May: “Scanty here, A pair near Kilpaison” (NB probably ‘here’ refers to a visit to the Angle area)

1929 – 18 May: A few about, Castle Martin area, more pairs in Stackpole and district owing to Lord Cawdor’s game preserving habits.

1929 – 30, May: A few seen around St, David’s as usual.

1930 – 28 April: Angle Bay: A good many pairs about; seemingly much commoner in the district than of yore, I’ve noticed,”

1930 – 8 July: “Pair with newly hatched chicks,on cliffs near Jefferston Wells,

1935 – 11 Sept: 3 near Hayscastle, were the first I’ve seen anywhere during this tour.  A pretty uncommon species in the county.


1947 – Common resident in Parish of Dale up to 1934, nearly extint after the Feb/Mar 1947 frost (Barrett, 1959)

1956 – Caldey: Attempts to introduce this species have failed as the birds invariably fly back to the adjacent mainland, stray coveys are occasionally seen however. B.L.Sage, Nature in Wales Vol 2, No 4

1963 – 10, Little Haven, 14 , Dec, Nature in Wales Vol 9, No 1

1965 – 1 Ramsey 29 Apl, Nature in Wales Vol 9, No 1

1965 – Pair present, Terfwrdan Isaf, nr Nevern, Mar-April “This species is far less common in Pembs than previously” Margaret Patterson, Nature in Wales Vol 9, No 3

1970 – 2, Stackpole ca 1970 (H.Garlide)

1970 – Bred at Rhosddu, Crymych, 1970 & 1971 (M A Bowen)

1971 – 24 May, Hodgeston Pembs, 2 together in lane, H E Grenfell

1971 – Max 18 wintered Moylegrove Farm Sept (Margaret Patterson)

1976 – Resident Breeder.  Decreased since Mathew’s time.  Saunders 1976

More about the Grey Partridge in Pembrokeshire

Grey Partridge – 1894

PARTRIDGE, Perdix cinerea

Although not to be numbered as ranking among the Partridge counties, owing to the comparative scarcity of cornfields and its generally “mountain” character, Pembrokeshire, nevertheless, seems to be well adapted to this well-known and favourite bird, and in the southern districts, notably on Lord Cawdor’s estates in the parishes of Castle Martin, &c, it is fairly plentiful, and very good bags are made.

In good seasons, such as the Jubilee year, for instance, it is also sometimes abundant in the wilder parts of the county, and we have had excellent sport. In hard winters, when snow lies long upon the ground, great numbers of Partridges perish. Many are starved and frozen, and many more fall victims to vermin that can then more easily discover them, and we have found their remains lying about the fields.

A wet June, when there are frequent thunderstorms, is also disastrous, as then the young broods perish almost to a bird, and the sportsman will find the fields bare of coveys when September comes. We have had our own stock reduced to almost a vanishing point, but a couple of good seasons will work like magic; the birds seem to spring up again from nowhere, and plenty of employment is again provided for setters and breech-loaders.

Owing to the quantity of furze and other rough cover, the Pembrokeshire partridges, in the north of the county especially, suffer little at the hands of poachers, as it is almost impossible to take them with nets.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Grey Partridge in Pembrokeshire

Grey Partridge

Perdix perdixPetrisenArtificially maintained

Grey Partridge – 2003-07 breeding

Perdix perdix – Petrisen – Artificially maintained Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 6 2 Breeding probable 1 Breeding possible 1 3 No of tetrads occupied 8 (of 478) 5 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 1.7% 1% Considered to be fairly common in Pembrokeshire at the end of the 19th century, the grey partridge was […]

Grey Partridge – 1994

Perdix perdix – Petrisen – Artificially maintained 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 6 Breeding probable 1 Breeding possible 1 No of tetrads occupied 8 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 1.7% Mathew (1894) knew the Grey Partridge as a fairly common resident, commonest in the south of the county. The game bag returns for the Stackpole Estate puts […]

Grey Partridge – Historical records

COMMON PARTRIDGE – Perdix perdix perdix Ice Age Bones of Grey Partridge, dating to just before and just after the maximum of the Last Glaciation, 22,000 years ago, have been discovered at two caves in Pembrokeshire: Hoyle’s Mouth and Little Hoyle. Eastham A. (2016) Goosey goosey Gander with Jemima Shelduck in attendance: two Stone Age occupation caves in […]

Grey Partridge – 1894

Species account from the 1894 Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands by the Rev. Murray Mathew