A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Blog posts March 2016

Cuckoo Spit

Here's some nice cuckoo spit, caused by froghopper nymphs.
Various species involved but mainly Philaenus spumarius.
A small pale insect lives inside the froth and munches away at the stem of its host plant and feeds on its sap. The froth is a good protection from predators.

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Wild Peony

A rare and unusual plant, Paeonia rhodia, endemic to Rhodes island. Here found in the hills above Archipoli. I have never seen a wild peony before and sadly this one was just going over.

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Olive Groves

An ancient olive grove on Rhodes with a carpet of wild flowers.

Even the hedgerows are in full flower of the medlar tree.

Butterflies too.......











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An adult female (eurasion) sparrowhawk. Quite often difficult to photograph as they are usually darting about at great speed chasing other birds. So well done James Collins from symidream for this one.


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Kestrels again.

A cracking shot of our local kestrels, this time by Justine.

Black Winged Stilt

A black winged stilt on the Kremasti river on Rhodes.

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Wild Iris

This is the cretan iris and is found on Symi, Crete and Southern mainland Greece.  Its seeds are distributed by ants. Iris cretensis. This is known as the barbary nut or Gynandiris sisyrinchium. The flowers are short lived, open at midday and wither in the evening.


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Crested Lark

A displaying crested lark, fairly common throughout the region and here found on the Loutani river on Rhodes. Galerida cristata.

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Vagrant Emperor

This is the vagrant emperor female dragonfly photographed on Rodos a few days ago. They are strongly migratory and mostly occur in the dry regions of Africa and Asia. The scientific name, Anax ephippiger refers to the characteristic blue saddle at the abdomen on the male shown below in a slightly out of focus pic. Sorry!

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Pine Processionary Moth

I am often asked about the white webs found in the calabrian pines. They belong to a species of moth which is notable for the behaviour of its caterpillars and which overwinter in tent-like nests high in pine trees. They process through the woods in nose-to-tail columns, protected by their severely irritating hairs. Best not to touch as they wi…

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Red Topped Sage

A second trip down the Cataractus to the harbour this time with my camera secured these photographs of the red topped sage before they were eaten by the local sheep. I'm sure they would find them very tasty too. They are often planted in herb gardens. Salvia viridis.


The seeds and leaves of Salvia viridis have been added to fermenting vats…

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Every year in February or March I see a heron in roughly the same place on the road to Nimborio. Sunday was no different other than this is a photograph from last year. it may well be the same bird. It's usually gone by the end of March.

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Yellow Legged Gull

The main gull seen around Symi notable for its large size and yellow legs and beak. It will spend much of its time patrolling the shoreline looking for fish or scraps discarded by man.

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Camouflage and Spring

Another starred agama showing off its ability to blend in with its surroundings.

However, below, the two Oertzeni's lizards had other things on their mind.








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Rock Roses

Sunday was a day when the cistus came out in all its glory. The warm sunshine encouraged every flower on every bush to flower. The white flowers seen here are sage-leaved cistus (Cistus salvifolius) but in amongst them is the odd Cretan cistus with its lovely purple flower.

Cistus exudes a gum, Ladanum, which is said to be collected from the lea…

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Audouin's Gull


Still a comparatively rare gull, but a significant increase in Western Mediterranean  in recent years (10,000 pairs). Here seen on the southern and western shores of Symi in single numbers. An elegant bird and a more graceful flier with much more gliding than a herring gull. Easily distinguishable from the only other gull seen hereabouts, the…

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Kestrels mating


Lots of tortoises yesterday moving around in the warm sunshine. Small ones, large ones, basking ones and we even helped one across the road. These are all spur thighed tortoises, Testudo graeca.

And finally spot the tortoise..................


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Bonelli's Eagle

A Bonelli's Eagle. Aquila fasciata.

An incredibly rare bird on migration over Symi. My bird watching dream come true!

Below a white mantle can be seen on its upper side below the head distinctive of this bird. There are less than 800 pairs breeding in the Eastern Mediterranean.







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Windy with the Promise of Storms Tonight

A widespread and familiar plant seen all over Europe known as the scarlet pimpernel or Anagalis arvensis. Its complex structure and beauty can only be seen close up.


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20 blog posts