A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi

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This site is dedicated to the wildlife of Symi and in particular anyone who has an interest in birds.

Symi belongs to the Dodecanese group of islands about 25 miles North West of Rhodes and over 250 miles from the Greek port of Piraeus. Symi lies between two peninsulas of  Turkey and at its closest is just six miles from Asia. Symi is mountainous and rocky with its highest peak, Vighla, at 620m.  The coastline is irregular  and measures about 85 km with numerous bays and headlands whilst being surrounded with a score or more islands and rocky islets. The island is mostly infertile and rocky (limestone) supporting a typical Mediterranean garrigue comunity of  dwarf shrubs and many aromatic herbs. There are a few small cultivated areas dotted throughout the island, notably above the harbour, Pedi  and elsewhere. Inland there are areas of coniferous forest consisting of cypresses and pine trees. The once cultivated valley of Pedi still supports a wide and varied range of flora and fauna. 

I hope you find this site interesting and I would encourage visitors to send in any pictures or comments you have that would add to the interest of those looking at the wildlife on Symi. Please go to the contact page for an email address.

Latest Sightings and Reports.

Griffon Vulture

January 24, 2017

As a birder, I occasionally get to see a bird that makes my year, not just my day and this is it. I read about them in school biology text books and I've watched them on countless TV wildlife programs. In this case a griffon vulture, one of 300+ individuals on the island of Crete. Now in decline because of roads and disturbance by man, better veterinary care of domestic animals and the decline of the custom of "azati" where carcasses are left out for the birds to eat. Yup, lousy photo, but wow what an experience. Next for the really rare bearded vulture.

Fire & Water

January 23, 2017

Still on Rhodes; water is my theme today and a reminder how much it is needed for all of us including the wildlife, as any of you who live on or visit Symi will know. An old bridge over flowing a river leading to the Gadoura dam. 

The Gadoura dam has seen record lows until recently but is slowly filling up after the recent rains. It is also a good bird watching site but too late in the day and very windy for me to catch anything but I did see three species of grebe.

A landscape of destruction; a forest fire has burnt this area in recent years but recovery is underway and young plants appear to be thriving.

The plane tree in a river bed waiting for spring and the seeds with velcro like hooks.

More fresh water streams filling the depleted aquifers on Rhodes. 

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The Interior of Rhodes.

January 22, 2017

I have several themes today but this one is about the beauty of the landscape in the centre of Rhodes. The mountains, the olive groves, the vineyards.........




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Anemone Coronaria

January 21, 2017

This plant is now on show in fields, woodlands and hillsides all over Rhodes. It comes in many colours and the name evokes a regal presence from the distant past, possibly associated with the  god Adonis. When he was killed by a boar, Aphrodite, his lover poured nectar over his blood and up sprang the anemone.

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January 20, 2017

A big hill near Rhodes town is well worth a trip to. The Capuchin monastery sits atop with fabulous views all around.

A view of Symi.

A popular place for wedding shoots........among the twisted pines.

And peacocks

And narcissi


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January 19, 2017

I do like Rhodes in the winter. A bracing 21c on a deserted beach.

Not much to see in the way of wildlife but plenty of sea rocket enjoying the sun and sadly a few trampled sea daffodils tucked away behind a kiosk.

In England, in the past I might have travelled 60 miles to see these chaps, a pair of yellow legged gulls.

We did meet a lady who was cutting wild plants for diabetics. She explained they were very sweet but had no sugar  content. On the old terraces were some cared for ancient olive trees.

And finally there was the obligatory kingfisher shot by Justine while I was looking the other way.




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Rain, Thunder, Lightning and Hail

January 18, 2017

Last night provided all of the above.........


January 17, 2017

The cold weather has pushed the birds to where there is food. Areas of Panormitis have relatively low grazing and maintain a good garrigue where shrubs provide food in the form of berries and cover. 

Close to the shore the shrubs are sculpted into a wave form from the prevailing winds off the sea.

The berries from the mastic tree provide food for a song thrush, quite an unusual visitor for Symi, lots blue rock thrushes, blackbirds and so on. 

The shore line attracts robins and black redstarts among others feeding off insects from the rotting seaweeds.

This is the phoenicean juniper often found on the shore line and tolerant of drought conditions.

Not been able to identify this one yet but plenty of berries on it.

And finally a nice early cyclamen.








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One last look at Tilos

January 16, 2017

Looking across at Tilos over the big field in the middle of the island of Symi. The olive grove has been under planted with oats and is looking very green this year after last year's poor rains.




January 14, 2017

Working donkeys waiting patiently for a cargo of logs from some nearby felled cypress trees. Just outside our front door.

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