Country diary: a family of partridges settle in my garden

Country diary: a family of partridges settle in my garden

Allendale, Northumberland: Red-legged partridges were introduced from Europe as game birds in the 18th century and have naturalised

For the last few weeks I’ve heard a muted clucking coming from the cephalaria. This tall lemon-yellow scabious holds its flowers high above my head, the basal leaves a thicket of cover for the bird I heard calling. There, in the innermost fastness of my tall meadowy borders, it seemed a red-legged partridge was sitting on a nest, staying hidden even when I was weeding nearby.

Then, one evening I saw a plump, beautifully patterned bird feeding in the field. It flew back into the garden and snuck past the greenhouse door before slipping between dense ferns and into the border.

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