The Return of the Grey Partridge tells the extraordinary story of how wildlife is restored to the Arundel Estate in West Sussex. Prompted by the collapse in numbers of one species, the grey partridge of the title, the managers of the estate wake up to the devastating effect modern farming methods were having on wildlife.
Following the estate through the seasons of one year, the book shows how the farm of Peppering is gradually renatured: fields are divided up with hedgerows and trees, beetle banks are built across fields, the land is manured rather than fed with artificial fertilisers, and much of it is returned to pasture. Detailed descriptions of nature give a sense of this large estate coming back to life – still very much farmland, but with a rapid increase in wildlife and biodiversity. And the partridges return.
Written in collaboration with the Duke of Norfolk, owner of the Arundel Estate, this moving and hopeful account shows how modern farming can work in partnership with nature to restore not only birdlife but to benefit the whole ecosystem.
Roger Morgan-Grenville was a soldier from 1978-86 and later helped to set up the charity Help for Heroes, acting as its first head fundraiser. He is the author of Liquid Gold: Bees and the Pursuit of Midlife Honey (2020), Shearwater (2021), Across a Walking Land (2023) and Taking Stock: A Journey Among Cows (2022). He is a founder member of the conservation charity Curlew Action.
After leaving Oxford, Edward Norfolk worked as an accountant with Coopers & Lybrand before setting up his own bottled LPG gas company in London's East End which he sold nine years later; he then set up a waste management company before selling it to Viridor in 2002. He is currently involved with ten private equity start-up companies and is on the board of some of them. He also spends a lot of his time running his family estate. As the Duke of Norfolk, he is the most senior peer in England and owner of the Arundel Estate.
"The Return of the Grey Partridge is magnificent, important, and should be required reading for everybody interested in saving Britain's nature."
– John Lewis-Stempel
"A full-hearted love song for a favourite British bird"
– Mark Cocker, author of Our Place
"A very good book about a very successful conservation project [...] could become a classic."
– Mark Avery
"A moving and beautifully written story of one estate's restoration journey"
– Benedict MacDonald, author of Rebirding
"The truly inspiring story of bringing a bird back from the brink through dogged determination."
– Jake Fiennes, author of Land Healer
"A fun and refreshingly readable tribute to an extraordinary conservation project"
– Patrick Laurie, author of Native
"A must read"
– Birdwatcher Magazine
"This wonderfully written book [...] should be essential reading for anyone interested in farming and nature conservation. It will likely become a classic."
– Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust