A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Blog posts January 2017

Arkasa, Karpathos

The fields below the seaside town of Arkasa are a rich source for study for naturalists and archeologists alike. Pre- christian temples, mosaics, wildlife and holiday makers all mix together here, although I met nobody today! Well it is January.

Even the hill I'm standing on has an air that is almost unreal with Doric pillar sticking out o…

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The lovely empty beach of Apela on the east side of Karpathos. I disturbed a mediterranean shag sunning itself with wings outstretched on a rock and on the hills above a common buzzard sparring with a kestrel.

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Sitia Harbour

I'd written Saturday off packing and waiting for the boat. But it doesn't work like that. Three black necked grebes were the first to show up at Sitia harbour.

Then there was this sandwich tern.....

A happy threesome; A first winter med gull, a first winter black headed gull and a sandwich gull.

And on the left a Symi favourit…

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After spending an hour or more at the bottom of Xa Gorge waiting for a lammergeier to turn up and generally experiencing brass monkeys until I couldn't feel my fingers, I gave up. Not before four griffons glided past (how do they do it in a force 5 wind?) with consummate ease and at a great height. The highlight though were these choughs all red bi…

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Gorge of the dead

Κάτω Ζάκρος
With names like "Dead's Gorge" and "Death Gorge" (sic) I thought it must be worth paying a visit so off I went and arrived at Kato Zakros in eastern Crete an hour later. I imagined a terrain so difficult that anyone who enters never comes out alive, either by getting lost or by dying of thirst and starvation and then having o…

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Eastern Crete.

Rugged hills, green valleys and semi deserted villages might be a good description of eastern Crete. But the soil types and the height of the mountains provide for a very varied range of wildlife.

Stonechats seem to thrive on undisturbed ground....

A long legged buzzard mobbed by a raven.

An overwintering ruddy shelduck browsin…

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Vai, Crete

 A unique Cretan palm forest growing in a sandy valley close to the shore in Eastern Crete. Once thought to be the result of discarded pips left by the Egyptian soldiers of Ptolemy Philomater, or the allied troops of Mithradates of Pontus .. or even by Saracen pirates and invaders. These plants were once endemic to Crete and this place is one of th…

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Griffon Vulture

As a birder, I occasionally get to see a bird that makes my year, not just my day and this is it. I read about them in school biology text books and I've watched them on countless TV wildlife programs. In this case a griffon vulture, one of 300+ individuals on the island of Crete. Now in decline because of roads and disturbance by man, better veter…

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Fire & Water

Still on Rhodes; water is my theme today and a reminder how much it is needed for all of us including the wildlife, as any of you who live on or visit Symi will know. An old bridge over flowing a river leading to the Gadoura dam. 

The Gadoura dam has seen record lows until recently but is slowly filling up after the recent rains. It is also…

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The Interior of Rhodes.

I have several themes today but this one is about the beauty of the landscape in the centre of Rhodes. The mountains, the olive groves, the vineyards.........




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Anemone Coronaria

This plant is now on show in fields, woodlands and hillsides all over Rhodes. It comes in many colours and the name evokes a regal presence from the distant past, possibly associated with the  god Adonis. When he was killed by a boar, Aphrodite, his lover poured nectar over his blood and up sprang the anemone.

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A big hill near Rhodes town is well worth a trip to. The Capuchin monastery sits atop with fabulous views all around.

A view of Symi.

A popular place for wedding shoots........among the twisted pines.

And peacocks

And narcissi


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I do like Rhodes in the winter. A bracing 21c on a deserted beach.

Not much to see in the way of wildlife but plenty of sea rocket enjoying the sun and sadly a few trampled sea daffodils tucked away behind a kiosk.

In England, in the past I might have travelled 60 miles to see these chaps, a pair of yellow legged gulls.

We did …

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Rain, Thunder, Lightning and Hail

Last night provided all of the above.........

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The cold weather has pushed the birds to where there is food. Areas of Panormitis have relatively low grazing and maintain a good garrigue where shrubs provide food in the form of berries and cover. 

Close to the shore the shrubs are sculpted into a wave form from the prevailing winds off the sea.

The berries from the mastic tree pro…

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One last look at Tilos

Looking across at Tilos over the big field in the middle of the island of Symi. The olive grove has been under planted with oats and is looking very green this year after last year's poor rains.



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Working donkeys waiting patiently for a cargo of logs from some nearby felled cypress trees. Just outside our front door.

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Virgin's Bower

The lovely Clematis cirrhosis flowering from December to April despite the cold weather. Honey scented, found in woods and the edges of  cultivated areas, particularly in the Pedi valley.

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Another stunning view of Tilos again.........


Another kingfisher, this time at Panormitis. That's three kingfishers in three days at three bays.

Also we were treated to spectacular views of the snow on Rhodes.

And some stunning views of Tilos and Antitilos............(click on the pic for full view)


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20 blog posts