A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Blog posts June 2014


Above Pedi lies a little fresh water pond. Lots of dragonflies here, at least three species. And a few whirligigs to boot!

I can't identify them at the moment but as soon as I get my reference book sent here I hope to put a name to them.


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More Fruits

 No gallery of plants in Greece would be complete without a picture of a vine and its grapes! Below is the pomegranate.

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Rechargeable Swallow & a Fallen Owl

This swallow is on his second brood.

While this little chap fell out of his nest and frightened the resident cat by his squawking.  He was later placed back in the tree and we hope all is well.

Thanks Andrea for for the Owl pic.


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This shrub is found all around the castro in flower at the moment. A white felted shrub up to half a metre tall and clinging to the rock face with little yellow flowers, I'm guessing this is a ragwort or Senecio (possibly Senecio bicolour) and possibly a garden variety escape. If anyone can enlighten me..........?

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Fruits of Trees

The fruits of trees; Tree of Heaven; Carob; Cypress; Fig; Pinus Brutia or Calabrian pine (close relative of the Aleppo pine that is used in the making of retsina); Turpentine tree (close relative of the Mastic tree from which a spirit is made locally and famous in Chios); Plane tree; Portugal Laurel. And all in mid June such is the season here!

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Dwarf Thyme, Delphiniums and more....

Delphinium hirschfeldianum, the fruit of the dragon lily (Dracunculus vulgaris) and the dwarf thyme (Thymus capitatus) all still to be seen in heat of the Symi summer.

Two other plants I can't put a name to at the moment, so any ideas please?


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Ancient Olive Trees at Nanou

Just behind the Taverna on Nanou beach is a large flat area of scrub land with river washed stones scattered in piles all across the field that have been washed down from the mountains above during thunderstorms.

Amongst this scrubby land stand a dozen or so ancient olive trees, the age of which I can only guess at, maybe three hundred years old…

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This is a plant that is seen all over the Mediterranean. It is grown commercially in Spain, France and elsewhere and it is the buds that we find in bottles in the supermarket. Here in Greece the young leaves and stems are served pickled as a medze. As they're picked by hand they're fairly pricey but they're a versatile store cupboard ingredient, an…

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A Walk Through the Wine Presses

After yesterday a turtle dove obligingly sat on an overhead cable down at Marathounda. Elsewhere in the woods near the wine presses a levant sparrowhawk passed by at close quarters and perched in a tree nearby but not long enough for me to get the camera out.

The Levant sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes) is a small bird of prey in the family Accip…

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Turtle Dove

Perhaps because of Biblical references (especially the well-known verse from the Song of Songs), its mournful voice, and the fact that it forms strong pair bonds, European Turtle Doves have become emblems of devoted love. In the New Testament, two turtle doves are mentioned to have been sacrificed for the Birth of Jesus. In Renaissance Europe, the …

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A Lot of Purrrrring.....

We set off today with the sole intention of finding and photographing turtle doves. There are a number of places on Symi where I have heard and seen them so I thought the path up to Stavros Polemou would be a good bet. Indeed on a bend in the road above Horio near Aghia Ekaterina there were two turtle doves feeding on the gravel just ten feet away.…

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Matt Wilson's report on Corfu

Matt Wilson's report on European amphibians and repltiles on Corfu makes interesting reading.

Scarce Swallowtail

This is the scarce swallowtail (Iphiclidies podalirius). Sometimes it is called the "backwards flying butterfly" by some people here. This one is feeding off thyme plants which are now in flower everywhere.

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Vipera Xanthina

After listening to a near gale blowing all night I decided that looking for any wildlife today would be a no-no with birds deep in cover and the impossibility of holding a camera and bins steady. Beyond the sea was awash with white horses but as I write this the strength of the wind is abating and bringing a warm (26c) breeze with it. Not unpleasan…

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Sage Skipper

Today is the day of the Sage skipper or Mushampia Proto. They were everywhere on the path down to Panormitis.

The sage skipper is a true dry habitat specialist with a predilection for bleak, sparsely vegetated places, which at first glance look unsuitable spots for any butterfly. Its only companions may be one or two species of graylings. They h…

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Black Eared Wheatear

Elsewhere the turtle doves are in full song and can be heard almost anywhere where there is good cover. Photographing them is another matter though. Also a possible black woodpecker seen fleetingly below the Vigla. And at the risk of boring you all here is another video of the hoopoe!

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16 blog posts