Yesterday I wrote about the grey partridge (Perdix perdix). That species is native here in Britain but it’s become rare. There’s another kind of partridge here too. The red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa) was introduced in the 18th century so that aristocrats could kill it for fun.
A. rufa is sometimes called the French partridge because it’s common in France and Spain. In Britain A. rufa outnumbers P. perdix. From a conservation point of view, A. rufa is classed as being of ‘least concern’.
There may be plenty of this species on farmland and moors, but it’s not always easy to see. Its legs and face are colourful but its brown back and stripy belly give it good camouflage. You might hear it before you see it (scroll down to hear the partridge’s call).
So the red-legged partridge is there to be admired in our British countryside. If you like field sports, or if you like to eat or sell game meat, the red-legged partridge is there to be shot. It’s perhaps surprising that the rare grey partridge also can be shot legally under current UK law but yes, that’s how it is. Gamekeepers rear and release both A. rufa and P. perdix.
If, like me and like my fellow blogger Mrs Tribble, you want to eat partridge but you don’t want it to be the rare kind, you might hope that a game butcher’s display or a restaurant’s menu would tell you which species you’re looking at. In fact European Union law requires labelling by species. There’s a genetic test to distinguish partridge species. We can hope that test is being used. Partridge meat isn’t a current focus of concern regarding food fraud.
Would anybody bother committing partridge fraud? It’s lawful to shoot both partridge species in Britain and Northern Ireland. In fact their shooting seasons (now underway) are identical. So it’s lawful to cook and eat both partridge species.