A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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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.

Pedi Valley, Symi

May 1, 2017

I've had problems connecting to my website over the last few days, so apologies for that. Hopefully things have resolved themselves now.

Some curiosities from Pedi. A lupin seedpod, gladiolus, a wasp's nest, a meadow, and a spiral seedpod from a medik.




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The Holy Orchid

April 26, 2017

A common orchid orchid to be seen at this time of year on Symi is the Holy orchid. Usually found on open ground or in degraded forest edges, Anacamptis sancta, is common in Israel and was so called the holy orchid by the crusaders as they arrived in the middle east.

Wood Sandpiper

April 25, 2017

A migrating wood sandpiper in the commercial harbour of Rhodes. 

A Nice Catch from Pedi

April 24, 2017

A colourful collection of fish from a local fisherman from Pedi on Symi a few days ago. I am sometimes asked if there are any sharks in the Mediterranean, so here's the proof, a dogfish of some sort and a member of the shark family. When I googled the question it would appear that there are 47 species in the Med! All pictures by Justine Marsh.




The Curious Case of Twittering Sparrows

April 23, 2017

Whilst walking the hills of Kastellorizo a number of flocks of small brown birds passed us by at great speed and quite low. With numbers of 50 - 100 in each flock it should have been an easy matter to photograph them or at least put a name to them. Occasionally they would dive into a bush and make themselves invisible. On the ferry back to Rhodes this single male hitched a ride and all was revealed. The Spanish sparrow, in this case the eastern mediterranean variety is highly migratory and spends the winter in Egypt and breeds in Greece and the Balkans. I don't think this individual hung around for too long once he realised the boat was going the wrong way.

Easter Sunday

April 22, 2017


At about midday on Easter Sunday we went to the church on the hill to witness the burning of Judas.  An effigy of Judas was hanging on a rope and children were throwing stones at him. Two dances were performed by only women in the square and then the papa set light to the effigy. I have to say it was a very emotional ceremony performed in a very perfunctory  way. Let the pics speak. And, how do we celebrate easter in the the UK? 


April 21, 2017

A few plants seen on the path towards yesterday's olive grove post.

Above the pyramidal orchid and below the nasty smelling dragon lily.

A delicate crupina......

An italian gladioli

Above is a mullein, a verbascum for which I am waiting for an identification of and a tassel hyacinth.

This is the common dodder, cuscuta epithymum and is parasitic plant with reddish thread like stems and no leaves. The leaves you can see are on the host plant.




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April 20, 2017

A short walk out of the harbour along the cliff slopes on an old stone path towards the most Northerly point on Megiste there is, just a mile or two from the Turkish shore, an old neglected and sheltered olive grove nestled between two hills. I sat on an ancient tree stump at the edge of the wood, in the shade, for about an hour and and soon discovered I wasn't alone. A small show included a striking woodchat shrike with its red head, a female northern wheatear, a black-eared wheatear foraging from a gorse bush and a first for me was a collared flycatcher that showed only its back to me.

The View from the wood and below a woodchat shrike.

A Northern wheatear and below a black-eared wheatear.

A collared flycatcher.

An old enclosing wall and the walk home with a view of the old castle at the harbour entrance.


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April 19, 2017

A few photos of the beautiful Greek island of Kastellorizo to start with. For a small island of 11 square kilometres the history is overwhelming. From the 4th century BC castles to crusaders and world wars Megiste is a fiercely independent island community, 2 miles from the Turkish coast. From the Ottomans to the French, then the Italians bombed it (twice), the British bombed and burnt it and evacuated everybody to Cyprus and now just the tourists visit it in peace.....





Above as we visited it and below before it was bombed in the second world war. There were 10,000 people living then; now 300.









The old mosque, now a museum and well worth visiting.





A 4th century BC Lyceum tomb.





 A favourite among the locals......





The staircase to the plateaux.....





The Paleocastro, Hellenic, Crusaders, medieval, Victorian, WW11 it's all there.







A wonderfully restored monastery on the hill.









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Cory's Shearwater

April 18, 2017

On the ferry over to Kastellorizo (more pics later) on Friday I was heartened to see the return of the Cory's shearwater which spends our winter off the Argentine coast in the south Atlantic. A truly pelagic ocean going bird (photo: my archive). 

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