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For Gibraltar’s Barbary partridges, the first weeks are precarious

Gibraltar’s Barbary partridges are resilient birds, but as new-born chicks take their first hesitant steps, there are challenges around every bush. And it is not just natural predators.

Earlier this month, the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society urged drivers to exercise caution in the Upper Rock nature reserve after two chicks were run over and killed in separate incidents.

Barbary 3 by Nicholas Ferrary

And even the weather has proved difficult for Gibraltar’s national bird this year, with the breeding season starting later than usual due to an unsettled spring.

Vincent Robba, a bird specialist at GONHS, said it was likely that the first clutch of baby partridges may have been spoilt by the weather.

“But the females must have laid eggs again because we see them everywhere,” he said.

Barbary 5 by Nicholas Ferrary

Mr Robba estimates that there are about 50 baby partridges, although the number of birds that survive will likely be far lower.

As well as careless drivers, the young birds have to face the threat of feral cats, snakes and seagulls, all of which target the chicks as prey.

Pic by Nicholas Ferrary

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