A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Blog posts September 2017


Next stop is the Makaris river near Haraki on Rhodes. Much to my surprise there is a trickle of water running down the vast stoney expanse that starts at Profitis Ilias, one of the highest mountains on Rhodes. Looking towards the sea on the beach is a european shag and a yellow legged gull with a backdrop of the acropolis at Lindos. Just the odd sw…

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Afandou Beach, Rhodes

An early morning quick look around the extensive stoney area behind the beach at Afandou (maybe 4 kilometres by 1 k) produced no migrant birds at all. The "waste" land is colonised by crested larks (and acres of dumped rubbish) who specialise in this environment where there are plenty of seeds still lying on the ground from the spring flowers. Non …

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An Extra Bit From Strofylia National Park

Some of the under water inhabitants of the lagoons in Strofylia National Park.

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A Last look at Strofylia Forest

The Dunes

The first plant I notice walking around the dunes is the sea daffodil with its beautiful white trumpet and strange bulbous green seed pods. The edge of the forest is bounded by salt water channels and aleppo pines, with low scrub of mastic and wayfaring bushes. Heather grows in the more dense undergrowth while butterflies and dragonflies dart from …

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Kotychi Lagoon and Salt Pan

At the southern end of the National park lies the Kotychi Lagoon, a vast permanent salt water area that is important for fish breeding, migrating birds and overwintering waders and waterfowl. There wasn't a great deal there yesterday in evidence but once again I did watch a marsh harrier a distance quartering the reeds. A kilometre or so south lies…

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Strofylia Wetlands Forest.

Or as I like to call it, the forest of biting insects. What started as a gentle amble turned into a forced route march in a vein attempt to out run nasty, blood sucking insects.
The most striking feature here is the umbrella pine, stone pine or Pinus pinea which cover an area between the lagoons and the sea for about 8 kilometres. A cut pine revea…

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Prokopos Lagoon.

This huge salt water lagoon that stretches almost as far as the eye can see is absolutely teeming with wildlife. More flamingos, coots galore, ducks, little grebes, herons, little egrets, kestrels and a peregrine were just some of the birds seen here today. but the highlight for me was a marsh harrier that lazily quartered a few acres looking for …

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In evenings shepherds move their flocks to graze on the stubble after this years crops have been harvested. The disturbance throws up many insects so it's not uncommon to find huge numbers of hirundines, mostly house martins, flying just a few feet above the animals. The sheepdogs don't work the flocks as they do in the UK but seem to be used as a …

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Kalogria Lagoon

A sunrise visit to the nearby saltwater lagoon at Kalogria was well worth a visit. At first I was stopped by the Park Police and asked if I was fishing or shooting which I found reassuring, but the real prize today was the greater flamingos on the lake shown here and presumably on route to some new winter grounds.

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The Western Peloponnese

I've travelled overnight on the Bluestar to Piraeus and thence to Patra and another 30 kilometres to the salt lagoons near the old second world war airfield at Araxos on the west coast of Greece. I joked about seeing wild jackals (canis aureus) but here I am listening to their early evening chorus from my balcony. I am just stunned. Here is a you t…

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Not just a Roof

The obvious purpose of a roof is to keep the rain out, but equally important is to collect any rainy that falls in the winter for use in the dry season (Summer). A third use which I've not seen before is the installation of a threshing circle. The corn (oats, barley or wheat) is shaken and the chaff blows away but the grain is collected in the c…

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Under the Cliffs

After a gentle climb to a view point overlooking a ravine into the crater the path picks its way beneath an over-hanging cliff where strange features have been worn by the wind  and the rain into the sandstone. We can feel the heat rising from the ravine below and reflected from the rocks above and in places the path has degraded into scree slopes.…

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Towards Emborios

Old shepherds houses dot the landscape often with a long disused threshing circle sited nearby. Below an old abandoned church complete with a marble pillar and doric capitol sits next to the path. Sea squill flower spikes wave in the breeze and herald the winter and forthcoming rains (we hope). 

A burnt out tree trunk probably struc…

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A Walk to Emborios

We started at Evangelistria, a monastery above the harbour and followed an old path through the trees and terraces to Emborios. After some lunch we returned the same way. The parking and sitting area is shaded by one of the biggest turpentine trees I have ever seen.

The path passes through a few small holdings before reaching open countr…

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The old village of Εμπορειός sits at the northern edge of the crater on Nisyros but is much less preserved or restored than Νικία. I am told it has a permanent population of 12 and is becoming popular with artists. A unique and old way of life is recorded in many of the ruins that are now inhabited by sheep, rodents and in one case a colony of bats…

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The Kastro, Nisryos

A short walk from Mandraki to the Castro via the monastery. The walls of the Kastro date from 4th BC and were built to protect the city of Nisyros by some bloke called Mausolus of Karia who ruled over nearby islands for a bit. Nice bit of dry stone walling with each stone weighing about 20-40 tons. Good views of the town and the lesser efforts of t…

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Hocklaki Beach

We are warned by a sign on the beach not to remove the black basalt pebbles. This beach is just below the monastery at the end of the town.

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The Crater

The village of Νικιά sits on the edge of the crater high up but down below it's quite a smelly business in "Στέφανος" at the bottom of the volcano on Nisyros.



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Nisyros was created after the God Poseidon chased one of the Gigantes (or giants, not the very large butter beans) across the Aegean sea. He pursued the giant Polyvotis and cut off part of Kos and threw it at him and Nisyros was thus born. The rumblings of the volcano is the giant moaning at his demise.

The port of Mandraki is stunningly beau…

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20 blog posts