A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Aghios Ioannis

The most difficult part of the walk to Aghios Ioannis is the start. I walked most of the way down to Faneromeni on the dirt track that leads up from Panormitis and back up to the top of the hill before locating the sign off the track! Fortunately some kind soul has marked the way with red crosses. Just as well for in places the ground is entirely covered in pine needles and not a hint of a path is to be seen anywhere.

Once over the crest of a small hill the view towards the south is just stunning. Nearby the three islands of Sesklia show well. That is Seskli, Trompeto (right) and Kouloundhras (beyond Seskli); further is Rodos, Halki and Alimia. Sesklia is owned and managed by the Panormitis Monastery and a lovely fellow called Manoli lives there with his dog and a few hundred sheep for company.

Near the church, on a steep slope, I just managed to catch sight of two Eleonora's falcons hunting along the cliff face. I did get my camera out but only got distant shots and they are not worth posting here. They looked the dark morphed variety to me. The extraordinary thing about these birds is that they spend the winter in Madagascar. They also tend to breed in small colonies. A nice but brief sight. Also nearby was a group of four Lesser kestrels hunting, their whitish underbellies distinguishing them from their common kestrel cousins.  They too nest in colonies. Again a very distant pic, but hey ho! Finally after a few more minutes walking, the church in a cave or Aghios Ioannis appears. What a spot! I sit under a huge old olive tree and listen to the cronking of a Raven, the wind and the rambling song of an Olivaceous warbler.

The return is uneventful and takes an hour or so to return to the Panormitis Monastery. It is quiet here today with just a few local people drinking cold coffee in the afternoon sun. By Friday the monastery will be a very different place.






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