Grey Partridges in winter in Lower Saxonia

Grey PartridgeGrey Partridges (Perdix perdix) share a hard life with many other birds of fields and meadows in nowadays agricultural steppes. One a common bird, encountered in many rural areas, this nice bird of the family of the Phasianidae, the Pheasants, Fowls & Allies is becoming more and more rare. But there are still some places where it is possible to enjoy an encounter.

In one of my regular trips through the Ochsenmoor – a wide moor in the southern part of Lower Saxonia – near the edge of the lake Dümmer I discovered a string of partridges near a shepherd´s farm. Since families keep close contact after breeding and stay together in the winter time and the area near of the Shepherd´s farm looked like a good habitat for Grey Partridges, conditions for a natural photographic project seemed favorable. The habitat is characterized by a wetland landscape with small hedges and shrubs. The first encounter ended in a long-term observation until March of the following year, because at that time the family units diminishes and courtship plays it´s role.

The Grey Partridges kept preferably in a highly diversified landscape of meadows and fields criss-crossed with some minor of roads and streets.  The best habitat seemed to along the outer embankment of the river Hunte a tributary of the lake Duemmer. With the road infrastructure available, the car itself offered the better camouflage tent for the photographic session. This is also true not least because so you can better adapt to changing habitat preferences from day to day. You just move to the locations by car. First I arranged everything with the landowners. Since the wet meadows in the area and are partially used extensively, I had to wait for the first frost. It turned out to be very helpful, that I own a Diesel car. Additionally I behaved in my driving style as an agricultural vehicle, ie driving slowly. I also avoided to drive right to the targets, the Grey Partridges. If possible, I kept the engine running for quite a while This approach caused a great familiarity by the Grey Partridges to my car and myself. I was able to approach them effortlessly close as six meters distance with the vehicle. The ensuing familiarity was the key to images in the immediate vicinity of the partridges. Several people talked to me weather I would have get stuck with my car in the field. Snow cover with underlying frost in winter was a welcome opportunity to visit the partridges several times. Since their – otherwise perfect – cover no longer works on the white background, it was easy to see the birds in their area. From experiences with other photographic projects, I knew that you have to invest a lot of time. Best is, to spend as much time as possible – maybe even the whole day there. If you do not give up during the resting periods of the birds and so fully adapt to the live rhythm, you should have the chance for perfect images, action images included.

To shoot good pictures of partridges, is primarily a matter of patience and good opportunity. To find the right opportunity  is no an easy task, if you think of our cleared agricultural steppes. A blog on how to shoot good pictures of partridges you will find here.

Feel free to contact me. I am always interested in getting feedback from birders both before and after their visits to Germany. A short blog in the series “Where to watch birds” is already in preparation. Here will give you more information, what to see when and how to get there.

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