A hooked blood red bill, red rims circling a beady black eye. A broad black line runs through the eye down and round a creamy white bib. Startling black streaks line the neck merging into a grey belly that switches to a soft brown underneath. Russet brown, black and white stripes stand out brilliantly on the flanks. The back is that soft brown while the top of the tail returns to grey. A small, dumpy bird that sits on bright red scaly legs and flies with rapid stiff wings when spooked….
Such a strange exotic looking bird but rather than sitting in a pear tree these guys are usually found running through open fields in small groups. It is the red-legged partridge…
Not a native species to Britain, but an introduced species from continental Europe where it is mainly found in France and Spain. These days as well as the wild population an estimated 6 million red-legged partridge are released each year for shooting.
Aside from being a non-native species whose numbers are artificially inflated there is another reason why red-legged partridge are not ringed. Under the British and Irish Ringing Scheme in the majority of cases the metal ring is placed on a bird’s tarsus. There are very few exceptions (usually waders) where the metal ring or colour rings are placed on the tibia. Under other ringing schemes they do ring on the tibia as my lovely Mediterranean gull is demonstrating…
|Foreign ringed Mediterranean Gull with rings on tibia and tarsus|
The red-legged partridge has however a spur (big bump) on its tarsus. So when one blundered into my net, leaving a neat partridge shaped hole (oops!), I couldn’t ring it but I could marvel at this rather striking bird.
|Red-legged Partridge highlighting the spur on its tarsus|