A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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A Ramble in the Pedi Valley

All through the Pedi valley the cyclamens are in full flower, in particular wherever the ground is too stony to cultivate. Sometimes they will grow straight out from a crevice in the rocks, in other places as in the photo great swathes fill the land. Other beauties are to be found but you have to look carefully, ophrys orchids are in full bloom, just a few inches tall and quite often to the side of pathways. Carpets of daisies or corn chamomiles grow on abandoned terraces along with their larger all yellow cousins the crown daisy. A variation of the crown daisy has a lovely yellow inner centre with a white ring on the outside. Often the latter are grown as garden plants. A patch of parasitic plants grows by the side of the road looking slightly ghostly with purple and white flowers and no greenery anywhere. These plants feed on the roots of grasses and other plants. 

It is not just the orchids you have to be careful of when walking across the terraces. Barely visible perhaps two inches across are baby spur-thighed tortoises warming themselves in the spring sunshine.

Nearby an olivaceous warbler sings its long and rattly song, interspersed with a noise that sounds like a creaky gate opening very slowly and unseen it skulks in an olive tree looking for insects and is one of the first summer visitors to arrive on Symi. It may breed here or carry on to another island. By April there will be good numbers warbling away in the bushes. At one point the land to our left is covered in greenweed bushes, similar to our gorse bush in England and you can catch the smell of coconut wafting on the breeze. Busy honey bees cover the bushes collecting the pollen.

At an intersection near the dirt track two newly hatched colonies of butterflies spa in the early afternoon sunshine spiraling around an oak tree and occasionally landing on a rock nearby to soak up a few sunshine rays. The red admirals are noticeably smaller than those in England and the tortoiseshells seem to be very territorial chasing off all incomers without much success. This is an endless game of tag, I think to myself.


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