'..an old cock partridge rasps out his eary morning welcome to just another day, whilst his covey, awakening in such inhospitable conditions, preens and begins to feed upon the frost-gripped fare.' (J. Southern, Thorburn's Birds and Mammals, London, 1986, p. 84). Although these words were written in relation to the watercolour A Frosty Dawn (J.Southern, op. cit., p. 84), the sentiments apply equally to this early morning depiction of grey partridge. Thorburn first used the technique of carefully placing the cock partridge's head against a light band of colour in the sky in his The Covey at Daybreak, 1892 (see J. Southern, op. cit., p. 45). In both A Frosty Dawn and the present watercolour this device has been repeated to discreetly draw one's eye to the male bird, watching over his covey.
A Frosty Dawn executed in 1927, and the same size as the present watercolour, was sold in the Thorburn Museum sale, 31 March 1993 (47,700).