A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

header photo

Blog posts August 2015

Common Purslane

This is common purslane or Portulaca oleracea, not native to Symi but growing out of a freshly replanted hibiscus pot. So it either came in with the compost or a bird has deposited a seed while drinking from the water bowl above it.

Seen as a common weed all over the world it is in fact quite edible as a salad. A little bit of colour after thr…

Read more

Mushrooms in August?

A little bit unusual growing out of a large clay pot that houses a lemon tree. After all it is 30C and high summer. 

Looks to me like a parasol mushroom but I wouldn't swear to it! It is also has an interesting yellow tinge to it that doesn't show up on the photo.

Read more

The Turkish Gecko in Our Sink

Well, we don't see them very often except at the height of the summer, so here is one again. Last time it was trying to match the black of the coving on the ceiling, here he is trying out a copper colour!

(photo, Justine)

Read more

Possible Black Storks

Coming back from Rhodes yesterday evening just after sunset we caught sight of about a dozen large black birds flying about a hundred feet above the water's surface. Heading towards Rhodes, I guess their wing span was about 1.5m - 2m and importantly their wing tips were broad with "fingers" protruding. Likely to be black storks but the light was fa…

Read more

Portugal Laurel

The long racemes of creamy white flowers hang down off this lovely tree. The Portugal laurel (Prunus lusitanica) is a shrub or tree found mainly in Spain and Portugal but here on Symi would have been planted as shade or for decorative purposes. The flowers attract large numbers of bees and hornets and in the spring these insects will attract mi…

Read more

Life in an Old Ruin

A valonia oak now covers the area outside this old ruin. As it is growing out of the wall I suspect it is accidental and not deliberately planted for shade.

In the main living area a wave of thistles partially cover the floor. At the other end there are slots in the wall where a mousandra would …

Read more


Vines are often grown as sun shade over a courtyard and in this case are quite productive and I suspect very succulent!

Read more

The Fig

A ripe fig (Ficus carica). Native to the Eastern Mediterranean, the cultivated form has no male flowers and the fruits ripen without fertilisation. In contrast the wild species bears both male and female flowers. More info here.

Read more

Castor Oil Plant

This is a bold and handsome shrub, seen mostly on waste ground and roadsides. The red female stigmas hang down in panicles. The plant is highly poisonous and the oil from seeds has to be refined before it is safe use. Ricinus communis. 

Read more

The Pomegranate Tree

“And her sweet red lips on these lips of mine
Burned like the ruby fire set
In the swinging lamp of a crimson shrine,
Or the bleeding wounds of the pomegranate,
Or the heart of the lotus drenched and wet
With the spilt-out blood of the rose-red wine.” 

Oscar Wilde

Read more

Blue Rock Thrush

I photographed this rather scruffy juvenile rock thrush while perched on an old ruin in Horio. 

Read more

Booted Eagle

I captured this booted eagle this morning flying over Horio. Not so much flying but soaring in the rising air up over the hillside and away south, eventually to Africa.

Almost certainly passing through on migration, it could have come anywhere from Ukraine to Turkey and all countries nearby. The "hand" has six fingers, although the first finger i…

Read more


Two more thistles that have managed to avoid being grazed by hungry goats, no rain and the summer heat. 

Echinops spinosissimus subsp bithynicusPicnomon acarna

Read more

Flat Topped Carline Thistle

Or the equally well named Carlina corymbosa subsp corymbosa! 

Either way a prickly customer that manages to flower in the heat of the summer (have I mentioned the heat before!).

Read more


Even the bouganvillea wilts in the mid-day sun, but none-the-less gives a spectacular display.

Read more



One animal that does appreciate the heat is this young Oertzeni's lizard with its brightly coloured tail. It loses this marking as an adult, but this one seemed very interested in a dead bee lying nearby.

Anatololacerta oertzeni.

Another common lizard is this starred agama (Laudakia stelio) enjoying the early…

Read more



A trip over to Rhodes from Symi last Wednesday produced several hundred shearwaters. Once again no camera but the Diagoras sailed through a large raft - 100 + - of yelkouan shearwaters (similar to manx shearwaters). Amongst these birds were the much larger cory's shearwaters (pictured) distinctive by their large wingspan of 120cm almost t…

Read more

17 blog posts