A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

header photo


This site is dedicated to the wildlife of Symi and in particular anyone who has an interest in birds.

Symi belongs to the Dodecanese group of islands about 25 miles North West of Rhodes and over 250 miles from the Greek port of Piraeus. Symi lies between two peninsulas of  Turkey and at its closest is just six miles from Asia. Symi is mountainous and rocky with its highest peak, Vighla, at 620m.  The coastline is irregular  and measures about 85 km with numerous bays and headlands whilst being surrounded with a score or more islands and rocky islets. The island is mostly infertile and rocky (limestone) supporting a typical Mediterranean garrigue comunity of  dwarf shrubs and many aromatic herbs. There are a few small cultivated areas dotted throughout the island, notably above the harbour, Pedi  and elsewhere. Inland there are areas of coniferous forest consisting of cypresses and pine trees. The once cultivated valley of Pedi still supports a wide and varied range of flora and fauna. 

I hope you find this site interesting and I would encourage visitors to send in any pictures or comments you have that would add to the interest of those looking at the wildlife on Symi. Please go to the contact page for an email address.

Latest Sightings and Reports.

A Few Random Pics from Southern Rhodes.

Lulworth skippers inside the derelict silk worm factory that is set in a large windswept grassland area of Southern Rhodes.

Yet another snake eagle hunting over the grasslands......

We saw many groups of bee-eaters.....

The strangely beautiful and striped hill called Kefala that I have photographed many times and is always a fascination for me.

A gayly coloured beetle minding his own business.

The famous windsurfing beach at Prasonisi on the southern tip of Rho…

Read more

A Last Walk on Nisyros

It is wash day in Mandraki and the narrow streets smell of freshly laundered sheets as the breeze knocks the drips of water on to the path between the houses. The neatly paved road ends at the last house and an old footpath winds its way up the hill to the ancient kastro. Newly emerged butterflies flutter between the trees in the shade and an old capitol from a Byzantine temple sits abandoned on a corner. I rejoin the road that circles the volcano which on foot becomes an uphill slog. Still, the…

Read more

Over The Hills of Symi

A distant shot of an Eleonora's falcon was my first sighting of a returning falcon from Madagascar this year. Elsewhere a kestrel, cretzschmar's bunting and black eared wheatears are the specialist birds on this rocky landscape. Last but not least a short toed eagle (snake eagle) hunting low over the ground.

Read more

Black-crowned night heron

A migrating black-crowned night heron taking a rest on the jetty at Nimborio. Photo sent to me by Peter Dalziel (thanks).

Παναγία Φανερωμένι

Παναγία Φανερωμένι or the church of "Our Lady Revealed" is a short walk through the garrigue from the dirt track that circles the mountain on Nisyros. The round towered basilica is unique to Nisyros and dates from the 10th century and has been restored recently. Although locked I managed to take a few photos through the cracks of its interior. An old settlement sits with the church on the side of a terraced hill and I found time to sit and listen to peace and quiet of the surrounding countryside…

Read more

Avlaki Beach, Nisyros

The beach at Avlaki is a strange landscape made up entirely of volcanic rocks. The old port has a few derelict buildings, a church and while I was there somebody repairing a small stone hut. The last time Nisyros erupted was 150,000 years ago and it's worth the trip down a long, long tarmac and concrete road to see it.

First the caldera.

And finally looking up the volcano edge, Nikia, a small village perched on the caldera edge.

Read more

Walk on Nisyros, continued...

Blocked paths are an occupational hazard when walking in Greece, it seems. A piece of land, reclaimed from an ancestor is marked by a fence and the terraces that were once cultivated for hundreds of years are returned to use even if it's just for bbq's on a lazy summer evening. However the good people who spray red dots on stones to mark a path allow me to continue my walk, now mostly down hill. Above me the clouds have cleared from the peaks of the sulphurous volcano that is Nisyros and the w…

Read more


 A nasty, sweet and sulphurous smell taints the air as I set off up the hill on an old stone path. Either side of the path are terraces just a few yards wide sitting on well maintained dry stoned walls but stretch to the right and to the left as far as the eye can see. Small twisted oaks give plenty of shade along with old olive and turpentine trees. Some terraces are still cultivated but many are left to the wild flowers; orchids filling one, daisies another, wild irises sprouting from the roc…

Read more

A Thistle

A highlight yesterday after a long walk with some friends off the road to a cliff on the southern tip of Symi was this member of the thistle family (thanks Nick!) in full flower. Ptilostemon chamaepeuce.


Cretan Viper's Grass

Cretan Viper's-grass, Scorzonera cretica, a member of the Daisy family, is characterised by its thin, strap-like leaves. Here photographed on Halki. This plant is related to the species Scorzonera hispanica (Salsify) which has edible roots.

Black salsify is native to Southern Europe and the Near East. The first mention of the vegetable by a Western writer came from Leonhard Rudolf, who reported seeing scorzonera at the market of Aleppo in Syria, in 1575. It is often claimed that the name …

Read more

View older posts »