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West Norfolk's Springwatch hosts collect conservation award at Royal Norfolk Show

Wild Ken Hill, the West Norfolk estate which hosts Springwatch, won a prestigious conservation award at the Royal Norfolk Show.

It beat two other finalists to take the Grey Partridge Award, presented each year for championing the cause and the recovery of the rare bird across Norfolk.

Wild Ken Hill land manager, Harry Buscall, and ranger John Dollman, received the silver trophy – crafted by Lynn silversmith Tim Clayton – from Lauren Parker, a partner with law firm Mills and Reeve which hosts the awards each year.

Grey Partridge Award Winners, Wild Ken Hill at Snettisham, John Dollman (left) and Harry Buscall MLNF-22PM06230
Grey Partridge Award Winners, Wild Ken Hill at Snettisham, John Dollman (left) and Harry Buscall MLNF-22PM06230

Mr Buscall said it was a “great honour” to accept the award on behalf of the team at Snettisham and that it was important as a clear indicator of the health of their farming system and land management.

He said that the seeds and insects that the grey partridge needs to feed off rely on a healthy ecology.

"If you have got English partridge you are going to have a whole load of other species like hares, yellowhammers and whitethroats. And they are beautiful farmland birds themselves.

"So you might have pollen and nectar mixes for pollinators, or cultivated headlands which are good for things like lapwings, oystercatchers and stone curlews but they are also a nice place for English partridges to come in and feed their young."

He said that to this end they largely just farm in rectangles now in the middle of fields and all the boundaries are given over to creating habitats.

Mr Buscall said that weather is also an important factor for the English partridge and he has high hopes that the birds will do well this year.

“I saw ten on the move this Sunday. It was a lovely sight,” he said.

Mr Buscall was joined by Wild Ken Hill ranger John Dollman whose son Thomas was part of the team at Holkham which won the trophy last year.

Lauren Parker said the award judges were "hugely impressed" with Wild Ken Hill's conservation ambitions.

"This is about so much more than just the grey partridge," she said. "It is about farming and creating habitats that do so much to increase biodiversity, that focus on the regeneration of soil and its fertility, which inevitably leads to the increase in so many native species, of which the grey partridge is one. But this species is regarded by many as being the bellwether of the health of our countryside."

She said that Ken Hill won the award back in 2010 when it had already taken huge steps to create a suitable environment for the grey partridge.

"I think it is fair to say that in recent years the ambition has moved to a new level."

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