CONSERVATIONISTS at a Hampshire estate are celebrating a breakthrough in their battle to save one of Britain’s most endangered farmland birds.

Researchers at Rotherfield Park Estate near Alton, have spotted 100 wild grey partridges on their land, where there were none 10 years ago.

The gamebird’s population fell by 82 per cent between 1972 and 1998 as its habitats were destroyed and insects used to feed chicks were killed by pesticides.

Morag Walker, of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, said: “These things decimated the population – it’s just gone down and down and down.

They’re one of our lovely native species that’s always been there. When you start losing things, it’s very sad.”

Other wild birds targeted by the project, including lapwing, woodcock, wild pheasants and songbirds such as yellowhammer, have been seen in recent weeks.

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is inviting farmers, gamekeepers and landowners on a tour of the study site at Rotherfield Park, East Tisted.

The walk will be led by partridge biologist Dr Francis Buner and Malcolm Brockless, the project’s gamekeeper, who will explain the intensive management involved in boosting the bird’s population.

Tickets cost £14 and include refreshments. The two-hour walk starts at 2pm, on October 14. To book call Lynda Ferguson on 01425 651013 or email