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HUNTING IN HELLAS AND NOT ONLY
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Alectoris Graeca !

ALECTORIS GRAECA

The Rock Partridge is found only in Europe in the Alps, Italy and through the Balkans into Greece. This flock at Sounion in Greece was curious for a number of reasons: It was at sea-level whereas they are normally a mountain bird; it has a fairly large brown streak behind the eye more reminiscent of Chukar Alectoris chukar; and they were surprisingly tame, allowing me to get quite close to photograph them.

On the other hand, they were grey rather than brown on the upperparts, the throat was white or near-white, and there was some black at the base of the upper mandible. I wondered if they could be a hybrid but they were some distance from the hybrid zone in northern Greece.

Behavior Graecas are diurnal and not only (active during daylight hours) and forage on the ground throughout the morning and afternoon. They do not migrate and seasonal movements are altitudinal. Flight is generally restricted to short distances downhill, usually when flushed. They hop when crossing rough terrain and prefer running to flight. The primary social group is a covey, consisting of varying numbers of adults and their offspring. Covey sizes that I've encountered range from less than a handful to more than 200 birds. Covey size depends on many factors, including but not limited to time of year, rainfall and weather. In dry conditions, the birds range congregate around water sources but will range 2-3 miles (3.2-4.8 kilometers) away. After a rain, they'll scatter to the four winds and the coveys will be reduced to their family groups. All of the big coveys (100+) I've observed have all been in the late season. These large coveys are formed as larger, unrelated groups come together and mingle. graecas use a number or vocalizations in interactions that are divided into three categories: alarm social contact, agonistic, and sexual. The most common call is a low chik, chick, chik used by both sexes that changes gradually to a graeca-graeca and can be heard from long distances.

Predators For healthy graeca populations in areas with adequate cover, losses to predators are probably not significant. In most areas, rodents, rabbits, and small birds outnumber graecas and thus receive higher predatory pressure than chukars. However, when stressed (over-grazing, drought, fire, extreme cold, heavy snow...), graecas are highly susceptible to predation. Magpies, ravens, and various ground predators including snakes are known to prey on graecas in the nest. Predators of adult graecas include skunk, badger, fox, coyote, wolf, bobcat, and a plethora of raptors.

Reproduction Graeca are monogamous. Pairs form in the spring, mid-March in typical latitudes, after a male performs a courtship display involving head tilting and showing his barred flanks. Both begin to call and participate in a "tidbitting display" by pecking at various objects. During drought seasons, when food is scarce, breeding may be restricted to a few birds. Males guard their mate from access by other males, but are not generally considered territorial. Graeca roost on the ground under brush or outcrops. Nests are simple scrapes, sometimes lined with grass or feathers, in rocky or brushy areas. They are difficult to find and are not well studied. I've only found one in all my days of wanderings. Well, to be accurate, my wife found it and pointed it to me. I had my camera with me, but I didn't have the foresight to take a picture of it. I won't make that mistake next time! Nesting Graeca and graeca broods are normally found within 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of water. Clutch sizes will vary with environmental condition from seven to twenty-one. Incubation lasts approximately 24 days and is usually a female activity. Hatching can occur from May until August, depending on the success of the first clutch. Broods average 10.5 chicks, but fluctuate. Young are precocial, i.e., able to move around on their own soon after hatching and are capable of flight within a few weeks. Graeca reach adult size in 12 weeks. Males may remain until chicks are reared, though some are reported to leave after clutch completion and regroup with other males. The reproductive habits of the graeca are not well documented and much remains to be learned .

In Greece there are 3 partridges, Alectoris Graega (e non Chukar), Alectoris Chukar and Perdix perdix (gray). Alectoris Graega is a partridge that looks similar to a chukar. Alectroris Graega (e non Chukar) is shown above and lives only in Greece. Graega inhabits mountainous terrain up to 1000 -2300 meters. Graega is the biggest partridge. It has many differences, sound, inhabit, color, and head compared to the other partridges.

Hunting for Graega occurs on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, with a bag limit of 4 birds per day. The season is 15 September to 31 November.


Giorgio Peppas

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