A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Blog posts February 2014

Raptor identified!

Many thanks to Mike Langman for this identification. He says "The raptor is a Short Toed Eagle check out primary shape and grey / brown head down to throat". 

They are also referred to as Snake Eagles and as such hunt snakes up to one and a half metres long, often wrestling with them on the ground. They will take venomous snakes and swallow them…

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Cretan Arum

Yesterday, after an hour walking across the open hillside in the centre of Symi I came across a whole group of Arums all in glorious flower, clustered around a jagged outcrop of limestone. For me this is the most handsome of all wild lilies and was the highlight of my afternoon.

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Oertzeni's Lizards

Oertzeni's lizards enjoying a bit of warm sunshine. (photo: Justine Marsh)

In the Cypress Woods

 The floor of the cypress woods beneath Stavrous Polemou at first glance seems bare. The trees aren't particularly closely spaced, but variable, clusters of trees here and open spaces elsewhere. The open spaces are more often than not covered in limestone scree and it is here where the sun's rays settle on the ground that the anatolian orchid and t…

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A Ramble in the Pedi Valley

All through the Pedi valley the cyclamens are in full flower, in particular wherever the ground is too stony to cultivate. Sometimes they will grow straight out from a crevice in the rocks, in other places as in the photo great swathes fill the land. Other beauties are to be found but you have to look carefully, ophrys orchids are in full bloom, ju…

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I took this photo a few days ago around the North of the island. I watched the raptor fly from one headland to another and back again. It had a very majestic flight only flapping its wings when the updraft from the hillside failed it. On a previous day I watched the bird of prey drop several hundred feet with its wings folded only to pull out at …

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Starred Agama

 Our neighbours cat very kindly brought this starred agama in for us but fortunately he was unhurt and after a few minutes in the sun he ran off over the wall, but not before I got this picture of him.

These reptiles live all over the Aegean and in Asiatic Turkey. This one is a juvenile but a fully grown adult will reach up to 30cm. They can chan…

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Scops Owl

A rare photograph of  a scops owl taken last summer in one of the bays on Symi. Thanks to Peter Vidal.


I watched this colony of sparrows for twenty minutes or so flitting from post to tree to roadside. They looked a healthy group of 20-30 or so. On Symi there are many colonies and as far as I can tell they seem to fare well here.

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The almond is now in flower and is one of the earliest flowering trees on Symi.

The almond is native to the Mediterranean region. It was spread by humans in ancient times along the shores of the Mediterranean into northern Africa and southern Europe.

Almond is considered to be one of the earliest domesticated tree nuts. Wild almonds are bitter,…

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Thanks for the responses to the request below.

www.wisegeek.com says this about mandrake:

"In the past, mandragora officinarum was used as a potent medicine surrounded more by superstition than fact. In modern herbalism, the medical use of the plant is limited to treating travel sickness, reducing bronchial secretions and as a pre-operative me…

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Mandrake, Mandragora, Cattle killer, Satan's Apple, love apple, Circe's plant, Dudaim, Ladykins, Mannikin, Racoon, Berry or Bryony roots date back to the Bible. The Ancients, including greeks, romans and celts considered it an anodyne and soporific. The fresh root operates very powerfully as an emetic and purgative. The dried bark of the root was u…

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Can you help identify?

This ground hugging plant is flowering at the moment. It's up to a foot across and seems to favour stony ground. I can't find it in any reference book but I have been told by visitors from Israel that it has some significance as a fertility symbol!


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13 blog posts