A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Blog posts October 2017

Turpentine Tree

Autumn again now on Symi. One of my favourite trees, the turpentine tree. The fruits are used in Cyprus for baking of a specialty village bread. In Crete, where the plant is called tsikoudia, it is used to flavour the local variety of pomace brandy, also called tsikoudia. In the Northern Sporades the shoots are used as a vegetable (called tsi…

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Autumn migration seems to have nearly passed us by this year on Symi with very few birds. Crag martins can be seen here now, taking up residence for the winter with an abundance of chiffchaffs and robins. I did manage to find a few migrants, a distant red back shrike and some spotted flycatchers in the residual oak forest that grows at the tops of …

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A mediterranean shag at Panormitis.........

A Rather Ripe Pomegranate

It's the season for ripening pomegranate fruit. The pomegranate is a symbolic fruit, signifying beauty, love, marriage, fertility, birth, rebirth, hope and prosperity. It is also the symbol of the start of a new year, the first rains, planting the fields or the "first spring" here on Symi.

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Little Owls

Nice to see the return of a little owl in our area. He comes every afternoon about 5pm and makes a great deal of noise so it makes up for the loss of the six pairs of kestrels that we we used to have in the village and harbour last year......

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Predator & Prey

Not a good outcome for the agama, I suspect.


Basking in the warm Autumn sunshine are a couple of common reptiles seen around Symi. The starred agama which changes colour to suit its surroundings and the snake eyed lacertid which is forever darting from rock to rock.

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Another Look.....

I'm posting these Arums again as I find them strangely exotic and very beautiful and in a week or so they'll be gone for another year. The pointy thing in the middle is the spadix, at the top it is colourful and sometimes smelly to attract insects, below which are the male flowers, then a sterile area, beneath which are the female flowers. Below is…

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Walnut Trees

An unusual find for Symi are these two walnut trees high up in the mountains. They are likely to be planted as cultivated specimens as they are close to an extensive disused terrace system and at the edge of a ravine where there is a better chance of a water source. Walnut trees can live to a great age of over two hundred years and can have a diame…

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And as luck would have it.......

Yesterday we watched a short toed eagle or snake eagle for an hour or so struggle with a live snake in the sky while his partner called and called...... 


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A short toed eagle photographed over Symi on Wednesday by Rene.

African Ringlet

The African Ringlet is quite a rare butterfly hereabouts, just resident on 4 Greek islands; Symi, Rhodes, Kastellorizo and Samos. It is more common on the Turkish riviera and Antalya. It prefers dry fields and rocky slopes near the seaside and is a swift flier settling on the ground with its wings closed, making it difficult to spot once it has l…

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Tamarisk Trees

The tamarisk trees are in full flower and give bees and insects and butterflies lots to feed on this month. The pollen also causes me hay fever too especially when sitting under one on the beach. There are many migrant painted ladies about, sometimes in their hundreds and often the first plant they see when they cross the water is the tamarisk. L…

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Not an easy butterfly to identify; indeed one of my reference books lists 28 species in Europe alone. They are butterflies of open scrubland preferring to flit from stone to stone or tree trunk to branch. They are heavily camouflaged and the eye spots tend to be displayed for a few seconds before pulling the forewings down to cover …

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Autumn Plants

Two of my favourite Autumn plants often seen together on Symi. A Cretan Arum (Biarum davisii subsp. marmarisense) and the Autumn crocus Colchicum macrophyllum.


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Only on Symi.....

Gadoura Reservoir

Last stop is a very low  man made lake in the middle of Rhodes. Not really expecting much after the earlier disappointments with migrating birds and indeed apart from huge numbers of coots and the odd great crested grebe and little grebe there was just a circling common buzzard nearby. However there was a lot of noise coming from the reeds  and nea…

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17 blog posts