A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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A Walk Through the Wine Presses

After yesterday a turtle dove obligingly sat on an overhead cable down at Marathounda. Elsewhere in the woods near the wine presses a levant sparrowhawk passed by at close quarters and perched in a tree nearby but not long enough for me to get the camera out.

The Levant sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes) is a small bird of prey in the family Accipitridae which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards and harriers. It breeds in forests from Greece and the Balkans east to southern Russia. It is migratory, wintering from Egypt across to southwestern Iran. It will migrate in large flocks, unlike the more widespread Eurasian sparrowhawk.

The Levant sparrowhawk nests in trees, building a new nest, lined with green leaves, each year. The normal clutch is 3-5 eggs. It hunts small birds, insects and lizards in woodland, relying on surprise as it flies from a perch to catch its prey unaware. This bird is a small raptor with short broad wings and a longish tail, both adaptations to maneuvering through trees. It is similar to the Eurasian Sparrowhawk, but its shorter tail and more pointed wings give it a more falcon-like appearance. Levant sparrowhawk is 30–37 cm long with a 63–76 cm wingspan. The female is larger than the male, but the difference is not as marked as with Eurasian sparrowhawk. The adult male is blue-grey above, with dark wingtips, and barred reddish below. The adult female is slate-grey above with darkish wingtips. She is barred reddish brown below, and may show a dark throat line. The juvenile is dark brown above and has dark-streaked underparts. It shows a dark throat line. The flight of this hawk is a characteristic flap – flap – glide.

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