A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Blog posts November 2016

Kastelli Beach and rain

The thunder and lightning have finally come with copious amounts of rain so a reflection of a few seashore plants from Kastelli  on Crete. The sea daffodil that I have talked about elsewhere; sea holly (Eryngium maritime) which is also a British native which "we call it aftastos....when you grind the stamps without the spikes..and mix it with sal…

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More Springs.

Well, after being promised rain for the last two days nothing has occurred. Lots of lightning in the night, but I'm reminded that there are places where water still runs freely regardless of the weather. A spring well built in 1520 by the Venetians in Kastelli on Crete and still going strong.

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Agios Pandeleimonas

The monastery is located at the extreme North West of Tilos at the end of the road at a very isolated spot. Situated just below Krialos and next to a spring we took a bus up there but you can walk the old mountain path from Eristos. Over the doorway into the church (the red roofed building) there is an inscription with the date 1470. There is a ver…

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A Day Trip to Tilos

The beach and port at Livadia;  a Mediterranean shag in the harbour; a song thrush in Megalo Horio, only the second one I have seen in four years, the first being on Symi at about the same time of year; and hooded crows which are noticeable by their absence on Symi and finally sunset over Tilos.


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I don't normally do cats on this blog but I thought this group was quite cute particularly as the mother cat brought them down from the top of the village and left them outside our door. Fortunately they are being fed elsewhere.

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Ivy Leaved Sowbread

On a hill overlooking the harbour on Kalymnos Ivy leaved sowbread and a fishing boat returning in the late afternoon's sun. Cyclamen hederifolium  is commonly known as sowbread or swinebread because wild pigs had a particular fondness for the tubers. According to the Greek philosopher Theospartus (c327-c287BC) it was used to excite love and voluptu…

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Bright Colours

Looking forward to some storms that are promised for next week to alleviate the drought and supply water to the citrus fruits and olive trees that are struggling this year. In the meantime here are some colourful non native flowers to be found in the Botanical Gardens on Crete a month ago.

Not forgetting a few bee-hives.


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Squirting Cucumber

This plant really is a member of the cucumber family, Ecballium elaterium. The fruit has a habit of exploding suddenly and shooting its seeds out covered in a sticky liquid. The liquid can cause irritation or inflammation of the skin. Root extracts have been used medicinally in herbal remedies for constipation, as a diuretic and it has abortive pro…

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Yelkouan Shearwaters

A trip on the catamaran ferry up to Kalymnos  always brings the possibility of seeing shearwaters and Sunday was no exception. A glassy sea, the sun behind us and a close encounter with the Datca peninsular near Knidos are all favourable omens. Yelkouan shearwaters stay in the Mediterranean all year round (there is some evidence they travel up to…

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Skoumisa Bay

The view towards St Emilianos from Lappatoniou castle.

A superb male red-veined darter.

Lots of red admirals about although this one looks decidely moth eaten.

And finally a herb. Thymus capitatus looking like a bonsai tree and growing out of a crack in the limestone. Who knows how old? 10, 20, 50 years old?



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Lappatoniou Castle

Lappatoniou castle is about an hour and a half's walk from Horio to the west beyond Ksissos. The view from this ancient castle is always stunning despite the haze (yesterday) and well worth the walk.

A view across to the Datca peninsular on Turkey in the distance. Roukouniotis Monastery in the lower right and Flat island next to Fat islan…

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Sternbergia Lutea

"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
 A host, of golden sternbergias........."      Mmmmm, well, they are a member of the daffodil family.


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Sardinian Warbler

My Collins Bird Guide says that the sardinian warbler is not shy and often reveals itself. Not on Symi though, you can hear their "tur, tur,tur" alarm call everywhere deep in bushes, thickets and garrigue so I was just lucky today to have my camera pointing in the right direction and in focus for this shot.

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Autumn Squill

For reasons best understood by meteorologists it's 11c with a force 5 blowing this morning, down from 20c yesterday. Scillia autumnalis has petals just 3mm across and is a member of the Lily family. It is also found on cliff tops and banks in southwest England.


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A change in temperatures and the first rains of the Autumn bring out this little beauty. Narcissus serotinus barely 50mm tall and found on dry slopes and rocky outcrops. Slightly scented.

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Autumn Crocus

Autumn crocus on Symi. Not quite the species that saffron comes from but you can see how long filling a bag might take. Crocus tournefortii subspecies boryi.


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Predator and Prey

Blue Rock Thrush

A nice blue rock thrush visiting our local church and in full song too.

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After no rain for 6 months this tufted evergreen fern goes from a rolled up frond to prevent desiccation to a lovely green wall pant after just one hour's rain. Usually found on north facing walls and rocks. Ceterach officinarum.



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Overnight Rain

A long overdue storm last night provides hope to plant life here on Symi, and brings out a few snails.

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20 blog posts