Red-Legged Partridge up the mountain

I’m standing bathing in the cold orange light of sunset when I spot a largish bird walking towards me. I feel like I’m in an exotic zoo.

Red-Legged Partridge - Madeira - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s a Red-Legged Partridge, Alectoris rufa hispanica. Aren’t they spectacular birds?

Red-Legged Partridge - Madeira - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s pecking at anything which may be food, a little like a chicken would.

Red-Legged Partridge - Madeira - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

In this light it looks beautiful.

Red-Legged Partridge - Madeira - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

They were introduced to Madeira for hunting. They were introduced into the UK for hunting too. The story goes that they were brought to Britain from France in the 1600s by Charles II, to provide target practice for guns.

The Wildlife Trusts describe the Red-Legged Partridge as:

“A plump gamebird, the red-legged partridge is an introduced species that seems to have settled here with little problem. It can be spotted in its favoured open scrub and farmland habitats.” link

A ‘gamebird’? Should people into wildlife be referring to a bird species as a gamebird?
‘…seems to have settled here with little problem’ ? Should people into wildlife be promoting species introduced for hunting and saying they have little impact on natural ecosystems when they have absolutely no scientific proof of that?

Industry estimates are that 47 million Pheasants and 10 million Red-Legged Partridges are released every year in the UK for shooting. It just goes to show how complicit organisations meant to represent nature have become. It’s also a lesson in the power of tradition. Imagine suggesting now, for the first time, that we release 57 million large birds into the British countryside with no study at all into the effect they have.

Do check out Wild Justice and their blog campaigning for a review of ‘gamebird’ releases: https://wildjustice.org.uk/general/wild-justice-seeks-judicial-review-of-gamebird-releases/

It’s still wary of me. It peeks above the stones while it forages, not quite trusting that I’ll stay where I am.

Red-Legged Partridge - Madeira - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

With this view, I’m not going anywhere.

Madeira - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The light’s so nice, here’s a photograph I’m not going to put on Instagram:

Madeira - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

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