Country Corner – Close encounters of the alien avian kind

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If you live in shooting country you will no doubt be used to meeting colourful parties of red-legged partridges, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

The birds are a continental species, often referred to as French Partridges or just Frenchmen.

Reared on game farms and shooting estates they are released into the landscape in their hundreds.

Even away from estates where shooting takes place, you can come across stray redlegs almost anywhere.

It is these chance and unexpected meetings I tend to encounter.

How exotic this species looks when met with unexpectedly.

Boldly coloured and intricately patterned, there can be no denying that, alien or not, the red-legged partridge is a stunning bird.

The red-legged partridge can be identified by its large white chin and throat patch. It also boasts bold black flank stripes.

Not being native, and generally coming from farmed stock, these stray ones are not too successful at breeding in the wild.

Only rarely will you come on a pair with chicks. This particular one met with the other day, seemed to be on its own.

In spring the sight of a partridge on its own often means its mate is secretly incubating a clutch of eggs somewhere.

Of course, that mainly applies to our native species the unimaginatively named grey partridge. Even then it is a bit early for that.

However, I will be keeping my eye open for this singleton whenever I am back that way. You never know, I might discover he has a wife, and maybe in a few weeks enjoy the rare scene of a truly wild bred family of red-legged partridges.

Now that would be a picture for you! Watch out for this handsome dandy in weeks to come. Reared, feral, escaped or wild, it's a cracker!