Saturday, 4 December 2010

I'm A. Partridge (a-ha)

The collective noun for a group of partridges is a "covey". This word has associations of secretive operations, like "covert" and "cover". We encountered eight red-legged partridges (alectoris rufa) perdrix rouge on our sand pile in our hangar right at the start of the hunting season. 

 These have to be some of the least covert operators I have encountered since cycling into a flock of young pheasants (poults) somewhere on the Yorkshire Wolds many years ago. At least fifty poults were milling about in the road outside their comfy pens from which they had clearly escaped, with no idea what to do next.
Partridges taking on grinders.
 The partridges had at least some idea what they wanted - to take on the grit which is necessary for them to crush hard seeds in their gizzards for ease of digestion. They showed little fear of us, enabling us to photograph them and observe their leg rings. With great dignity, they walked off in procession past the hangar, flipped up onto the fence, scuttled across the road and disappeared into the maize field. 
Line dancing covey... perhaps?
 According to one of our books, red-legged partridge "only fly if pressed". Well, I'm darned if I can see where you have to press to make them fly. Somehow I don't think they were raised in the wild by Mummy and Daddy Partridge.
There are wild partridge about though, or at least released birds from a previous season - we heard their 'starting a recalcitrant chainsaw' calls all summer, and a single male - nicknamed 'Alan' - has visited us on several occasions.
He accompanied Tim collecting walnuts and 'helped' by pecking at the ground wherever Tim disturbed fallen walnut leaves. When the shooting started, he flew into our front yard (pressed!) and ran at the barn doors where there is a poult-sized hole he clearly remembered well. Unfortunately it is not a full-sized-adult-partridge hole and he bounced off the doors backwards like a Roadrunner cartoon.
Alan cookin' on gas!!! Look carefully at the leg he's standing on and you can see the ring.
 The hunting season for perdrix in Indre et Loire is from 19th September to 21st November. All eight of our gormless covey appeared last week in the field opposite the house, right next to the road, so they're all safe. We've seen Alan again too. I'm rather pleased to see them as I feel they're "ours". On the other hand, a couple of plump partridge would make a tasty meal....

Just a nice brace! Tasty on a plate if they weren't so threatened!!

Worrying though that the Fédération Départmentale de la Chasse d'Indre-et-Loire (FDC37) does not distinguish the two species of partridge in its calendar. The population of the grey partridge (perdix perdix) perdrix grise is diminishing, almost as rapidly in France as it has in Britain. According to La Nouvelle République of 12th September 2010, the grey partridge population in this region is giving cause for inquiétude and there is a study in progress to find out why.


GaynorB said...

Interesting and charming post. What do you know about the perdrix blanche? I know, I could look it up on the web, but I like the way you make comparisons between the species.

Pollygarter said...

Well Gaynor, our 'Guide Ornitho', aka the Collins Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe in French, doesn't list a perdix blanche. Tim, having dug about in Google, says there is a restaurant in the French Alps below lake Geneva called the Perdix Blanche, which has a Ptarmigan (lagopus leucura) for its logo. So it may be a local name for the Ptarmigan. The 'official' French name is Lagopède à queue blanche. Then again the official French Canadian name is Lagopède des Saules. It just goes to show you need to use the scientific name if you really want to identify a critter.

GaynorB said...

I was interested because we used to have an apartment in the mountains above Evian les Bains, overlooking lake Geneva, before we sold up to buy in Le Petit-Pressigny earlier this year. The block was called La Perdrix Blanche!
There was a bird painted on the side of the block, but I think you could say the artist used 'artistic licence', as it looked a bit like lots of birds and nothing like any one particular bird.
I am enjoying your blog and think we have driven past your house on our visits to the 'tip' at LG-P.

Tim said...

Hi Gaynor,
You are almost certain to have driven past [unless you take a very strange route from le P-P to le G-P]... we are on the D103 first buildings on your right after the Moulin de Chevarnay. Huge barn and hangar [with two 2CVs parked in the latter]. Currently we have a large amount of timber sitting in the field opposite... it has rather spoilt our view but the trees were about ten years beyond their maximum production so I have no doubt that the Dechartes decided to capitalise and clear the wood for game at the same time.
Drop in sometime and introduce yourselves.

GaynorB said...

Thanks, we won't be out until at least Feb or quite possibly the beginning of April, but will call in to introduce ourselves.