A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Aghios Ioannis

The walk to Aghios Ioannis starts about a kilometer before you reach Panormitis. Following a dirt track to a left turn there is a path through the woods to the remote church of St Ioannis. It is way marked with red painted crosses. 






undefinedThis is almost exclusively a calabrian pine forest, a really drought resistant tree - Pinus brutia - that does well on the coastal margins of Symi. Everywhere there are little saplings sprouting through the fallen needles of the more mature trees.






undefinedShaped by the wind on this cliff top and stunted by the lack of nutrients they still put up an impressive show.

This is little owl country with lots of lizards and insects to eat.






The views hereabouts are stunning. Looking South are the islands of Sesklia and beyond, Rodos. To the West you can see Halki, Tilos, Nisyros and others; on a clear day I have seen Karpathos but the heat haze is too much today.

The smell of herbs rises up the cliffs and Alpine swifts swoop low to collect insects. Today they fly so close I can hear the wind flowing through their feathers. Nearby an eleonora's falcon patrols the sky in hope of an easy meal.



There are just  a few flowers left in the summer heat........

Here Centaurium tenuiflorum bulbs send up the smallest of flowers, very delicate.






At the end of the path is the chapel of St Ioannis, nestled in a cave and overlooking Sesklia and Rhodes.







undefinedPlenty of shade under the nearby olive tree to watch the world go by.













The return journey throws up a small group of rock doves, spooked by a kestrel.

This bird breeds in caves and on steep cliffs, mostly on sea coasts as here on Symi but also on mountains. There seems to be a good population here, too. Now mainly confined to the Mediterranean area and Western Europe. It is the ancestral form of the feral pigeon.

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