A North Yorkshire farm is leading the region’s conservation efforts to revive the ailing population of a rare wild bird.
Stuart Stark, who operates mixed enterprise Fridlington Farms Ltd over nearly 3,000 acres near Sutton on the Forest, has been awarded the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) prestigious Yorkshire conservation trophy for recording an increase of wild grey partridges on his land between 2012 and 2013.
Conservationists say the number of wild greys, a species considered to be one of the UK’s most iconic birds, has plummeted by 86 per cent in the last 40 years.
To combat the decline, the GWCT works with farmers across the country to create habitats which provide safe nesting places for the birds and which encourage insect populations to thrive as a source of food.
The grey partridge population at Fridlington increased after a number of broods successfully hatched last summer. It is an excellent result, the GWCT said, given last year’s “apocalyptic” breeding season.
Fridlington’s gamekeeper Charlie Garbutt is influential in the success, by co-ordinating the location, establishment and management of the type of habitat that supports the wild grey.
Explaining how the species is flourishing on his farm, Mr Stark said: “We have put six-metre grass margins down the side of water courses on the farm and next to them we have put a linseed and barley mix to encourage insects for feed.