A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Blog posts May 2015

Geranium Bronze

This is the geranium bronze butterfly or Cacyreus marshalli. 

A South African species introduced to Mallorca in the late 1980's. This has spread rapidly and in 2010 was recorded as far east as the Greek island of Corfu.

Now on Symi and laying eggs on my pelargoniums! (Its only plant food of the the larvae.)






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Sage Skipper

undefinedThe sage skipper is a true dry habitat specialist with a predilection for bleak and sparsely vegetated areas. Here, today, found in great numbers in the valleys just behind the harbour.


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Oriental Marbled Skipper

The Oriental Skipper is a butterfly of the Hesperiidae family. It is found in Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, east to Asia Minor, northern Iran, Ukraine, the Caucasus to Kazachstan and Turkmenistan. There is a disjoint population in northern Hungary. In the south it is also found in Wadi Al Hisha and Israel.


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Small White Butterfly

After the rain of a couple of days ago (red rain too, leaving sand stains on all newly painted surfaces!) a flush of small whites are flitting about from plant to plant. Here seen on my scented geranium on the balcony. Pieris rapae common throughout Europe, here, could be confused with the southern small white but the former will feed on almost any…

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A long distance shot, taken in the wind under cloudy conditions, of bee-eaters. There were about twenty flying around the old Village (Horio) yesterday morning. They make a pretty spectacle though.

Nearby is a portuguese laurel which carries long trusses of flowers and these flowers attract hornets and bees which the bee-eaters love. Too windy t…

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The Smallest of Flowers

This is Velezia Rigida, standing just 30mm tall but very pretty with its colourful and toothed petals. It has a spreading habit and is easily overlooked.

V. rigida is a member of the dianthus or pink family and my reference book  says found on dry rocky or grassy places except on some of the smaller islands.

After some consultation this is a…

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The Terrace

From November to May; the life cycle of a terrace.

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St Emilianos

From top left, clockwise, St Emilianos,  black eared wheatear, cretzschmar's bunting, and a praying mantis!

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Commonly known as the larkspur, this is Delphinium staphisagria, a large stand of which I found in a long derelict property behind the harbour in Yialos.

In Greek mythology the delphinium flower was said to have blossomed from the blood of Aias – or Ajax – and the petals were inscribed with the word ai, ai – or alas, a…

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Unknown above YialosAeonium arboeum. A cultivated succulent from Morocco.Above Yialos.
Flower of the previous cactus.Opuntia ficus-india or the prickly pear!Prickly pear flower.

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Little Owl

This little owl is well hidden amongst the branches of this eucalyptus tree.

Also, a few nights ago my friend and I saw a barn owl sitting on the ruins next to us. This bird has been seen for a number of years now and would appear to be a solitary bird. It has been reported by many people in the village and indeed I have met it when walking up t…

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Taken a week or so ago, these nasturtiums have made their home in the ravine below our house, despite the torrential downpour we had back then.


Only four members of the Stonecrop family (Crassulaceae) have been recorded on Symi. These two are annual sedums.

Sedum rubens.Sedum litoreum

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Levantine Skipper (again)!

Scores of levantine skippers where seen flitting across the garrigue above the Nimborio road. Feeding on grasses, this tiny butterfly with a wingspan of less than 28mm is one of 230 species found across Greece. That compares with the UK's 55 species. If anybody knows how many there are on Symi, please let me know!

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Hollyhocks & Turtle Doves

A close relative of the common hollyhock, Alcea heldreichii. A tall perennial here by the side of the path near St Georges. 

Also nearby the gentle purrrring of the turtle dove was heard nearby in an olive grove.

We watched a pair of long legged buzzards dive bombing each other in a bonding ritual that seemed to go on for some time. Lots of …

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Wee Timorous Beastie

Blue Rock Thrush

The Same rock but within 30 seconds the juvenile on the left had transformed itself to the adult on the right!

Click on the images to get a close up.

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Levantine skipper

A fantastic photo from Jordan Blakesley. A difficult subject to identify but I suspect a levantine skipper. Not much difference between this and a small skipper but the underside of the antennae are orange whereas the small skipper is brown. Thymelicus hyrax. My reference book says "olive groves, vineyards and various hot and dry scrubby grasslands…

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Central Rhodes

A very pleasant surprise was Gadouras Dam. Access was limited by car and there is considerable work going on at one end but towards the west end of the lake I came across this wet land area.Nearby there is a cultivated area which presents the possibility of different species of birds. Here oat straw is being harvested next to an olive …

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Faraklos Castle

 It is a short walk up to Faraklos castle from Haraki and well worth the view that presents itself from the top. Once occupied by pirates and later restored by the crusaders it is now occupied by thistles and a few sheep.



Southern gatekeeper

Small white


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20 blog posts