A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Blog posts September 2016

Now & Then

Symi in 1907 and 2015. Some of the houses are still recognisable, the Pedi valley looks green as ever but Kastro has been rebuilt after it was destroyed during the second world war.



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Sea Holly

This sea holly is a member of the carrot family and flowers at the end of the summer when everything else has been and gone. Eryngium glomeratum.

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Sitting on a plate or whatever they are called means we get earthquakes from time to time. The one last night was 5.2 on the Richter scale and the biggest I've experienced since living here. There was a low rumbling for 2 seconds and then everything shook at about midnight for a further second. Scary!


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With no rain for months and months there are still one or two plants flowering. Picnomon acama is a genuine annual thistle and is perfectly adapted for the hot and arid conditions on Symi. And goat proof too!

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Over the last few weeks a number of groups of bee-eaters have passed through but unlike other years I've not been able to find any to photograph at rest.

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Masters of Camouflage

Freyer's grayling rests only with its wings closed and blends well with the rocks that surround it. A common large butterfly seen on Symi and many islands in the Eastern Aegean.

Another common butterfly is the Aegean meadow brown also well camouflaged but does show its upper wings from time to time.

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Stink Aster

Stink aster or Dittrichia graveolens is an annual sticky plant that smells of camphor. The bees love it but the honey it makes in the Autumn can sour it somewhat. In the past aster was placed inside mattresses to deter fleas, hence the common name fleabane for this family of plants.

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More Migrants

A red back shrike (Justine Marsh); spotted flycatcher and a possible willow warbler or chiffchaff (James Collins).



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A Thousand Birds

Not an unusual sight at this time of year. The sky above the village was filled with alpine swifts yesterday making their annual migration south. Picture by James Collins of Symi Dream. Keep an eye out for eleonora's falcons which prey on these birds.


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After a brief period of rain on Tuesday this family of ravens was out doing acrobatic displays in the warm sunshine.


Photographing a male red veined darter can be quite a challenge. They are very territorial and vigorously defend their patch. This means they are constantly on the move. These dragonflies have been seen laying their eggs in the sea water in quiet ponds. Below is an immature male. Beneath is a green female.

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Spotted Flycatcher

On holiday at the seaside. This one was flying from this post across the water to catch insects.


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Sea Squills at Marathounda

These sea squills are having a good Autumn in the fields behind Marathounda beach.

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Hunting Season & Chukars

Yesterday was the first day of the hunting season and runs for one month, four days a week. The normally shy Chukars are the target and eventually get fed up being shot at and will often find safety on roofs in residential areas. 

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The Moon

Not quite the hunter's moon but a rare penumbrial eclipse over Symi last night. And the beginning of the hunting season.

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Agia Marina

The walk to Agia Marina is not the easiest of walks and takes about two hours over very rough ground. Starting at the windmills......

Finding the path in places is not clear.....

With little or no wildlife and very little cover a female red-veined dragonfly stands out well.....

As does thyme which after 4 months of no rain stil…

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Long Legged Buzzards

A pair of long legged buzzards playing in the thermals over Horio. 


A fire on Monday night on the Turkish peninsular of Bozburun some 10 miles away from Symi serves to remind us how dry the landscape is at this time of year. Fortunately it appeared to die out very quickly.

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Praying Mantis

A praying mantis rescued rescued from some cats by Nick Schum.


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Europe's Oldest Tree

Europe and Greece's oldest tree is a bosnian pine found in the mountains of Northern Greece (Not on Symi!)

Here's the link; Adonis.


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20 blog posts