27 AUGUST 1948, Page 14

" The First " "The First" was a dies non

in very many districts, partly owing to delayed harvesting, but more certainly to the absence of partridges. One ardent sportsman, who had been surveying his farms, said to me that the biggest covey he had seen consisted of three birds. My own paddock is visited by a covey of ten, but they are a rare exception. The partridges, like the wasps, have suffered a succession of bad years for no very apparent reason, unless it be the excess of vermin and untimely thunderstorms. The fate of the coveys has been the more surprising since the wild pheasants, which are quite as vulnerable to vermin, have flourished out of all expectation in the post-war years. The increase of the arable acreage should have benefited the partridge, though perhaps the earlier cutting of grass crops has cancelled out this advantage.