Bruno D'Amicis - Good morning, partridge!


The exquisite color pattern of their plumage, the coral-red bill and legs make the Rock partridge a true gem within the Italian wildlife – yet a very well camouflaged one! Unfortunately, their striking features made them often a very sought-after trophy for hunters, too. Even though, this bird inhabits the steepest and most rugged territories in the Apennine mountains, nowadays it survives in good numbers only in places where the hunting has been banned. With their fluid, explosive, chicken-like call, patridges are a fundamental interpreter in the original soundtrack of my mountains. While hiking, one manages only seldom to observe these shy birds, and more than often is happy to flush a bunch of them, with their sudden and noisy flight. Very few people managed to photograph this species and taking a good picture of it seemed an impossible task to me. After many unlucky attempts, I tried every trick I could think of (setting up a feeding station, following their tracks in the snow, hide at roosting site… even using their recorded call once!) but partridges always outsmarted me. As it is often the case with wildlife photography, time brings knowledge and patience brings luck. After several trips to a particular area, I observed that a male bird was using always the same two rocks to sing from in the early morning. The problem was that it also slept next to them… As it was impossible to set up a hide or approach it in daylight. I had to climb in the night, slowly and with no light. As dawn came, I was already laying low on the ground, under a baghide. No sign of the bird. The air was chilly, I felt stiff. Then the sun rose and I could hear the bird singing just once, somehow farther from me than expected. All of a sudden, the sound was closer and I could see its shadow against one lit rock. My heart started beating fast, cold sweat on my hands. Then the bird sang with a crescendo and hopped on the top of the rock. It stood there perhaps 20 seconds. Just the time for a few sharp and correctly exposed frames. Then it flew away. As I walked back to my car, a wolf crossed my path and an eagle was soaring above my head. For a bunch of minutes, I forgot the noisy highway at the mountain foothills, the ugly windfarm on the horizon and the illegal dump site on the side of the trail: I just lingered in the purest serendipity…

Tags: alectoris graeca, apennines, bruno damicis, endangered, mountains, rock partridge

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  1. √ėyvind said:

    05/04/2011 10:06

    A very nice story, and a very nice photo! You deserved that shot :)

  2. Werner said:

    05/04/2011 10:14

    The beautiful result of hard work. Congratulation Bruno!

  3. Luciano said:

    05/04/2011 23:22

    Yes! Bruno, I appreciate, really, this photo-story and the passion for your job is clear like alpine water.... :)

  4. Meelis Kivirand said:

    06/04/2011 20:54

    Interesting reading Bruno! This story gives a lot to this image.

  5. Bruno said:

    07/04/2011 23:03

    Thanks, guys! ;-) It's been a wonderful experience and a little milestone for me!

  6. Sven Zacek said:

    14/04/2011 21:18

    Wow! Talk about an experience to remember! Great story and an amazing picture to go with it. Congratulations!