Wednesday, 12 October 2011


The lovely European Heliotrope above a beautiful bay

Douglas Adams, describing a trip to Madagascar, commented that "my role, for which I am very well qualified, was to be an extremely ignorant non-zoologist to whom everything that happened would be a complete surprise".
So it was for me on my first visit to the eastern Med.

My bible was the Complete idiot's guide to the Mediterranean Wildlife (Collins). And from this book come some of the following identifications, although the Complete bit is optimistic some will doubtless be off-target. And sometimes the plant just does not appear.

Sea Squill

The eastern slope and shore of Rhodes is parched dry at this time of the year, and most of the vegetation was brown and dead. Thistles abounded, nibbled by the incredibly tough goats, but just occasionally a flower would show, attracting an occasional butterfly.

Swallowtail on Syrian Thistle

Long-tailed Blue on, um, grass

Squirting Cucumber - about to squirt?

And the strange but lovely Sea Daffodil, which looks and even smells like a proper daffodil, incongruously dotted untidily around the sand.

Birdlife, like the vegetation, was sparse. The first morning gave me an encounter with juvenile and adult Red-backed Shrikes and more were seen during the week.

But apart from communities of House Sparrows, families of Sardinian Warblers and mobs of Hooded Crows there was little to see or hear.
There were Chiffchaffs passing through, and I believe this was a Wood Warbler. And the only wader was a confiding Curlew Sandpiper, ignoring the tourists along the strand.

Better adapted to the heat and dessication were the lower-lifes.....
A Green Toad greeted us on arrival, and although we gently moved it away from the sun-trap wall it clearly liked it there and returned to its position. It also serenaded us in the evenings, with a cracked voice.
Well-camouflaged grasshoppers abounded, and lizards too including this Agama of about a foot long.

Most amazing sight, however, was this What-the-hey?! hopper, that flew in and hid against its camouflaged habitat - the weird Nosed Grasshopper. Its confidence in its defence mechanism was strong enough for it to stay still even with a lens held close to it.

Snorkelling in the bays provided plenty of colourful fish including long pipefish.

And there were moths, too.

Plenty of surprises, then, but it would be great to revisit in the spring, before the desiccating heat of summer.

It wasn't until I returned and trawled through blog-postings that I realised that others had been nearby - Dylan and Phil have both been to the eastern Med and had seen more, got better photos and (in the case of the latter) even hit upon a good post-title. Drat them. I hope they had even worse flights than we had.


Greenie said...

Steve ,
Glad you enjoyed getting cooked in Rhodes .
Some very interesting plants must have made it worthwhile though .
Can help you with the moth , Crimson Speckled , only because I saw it turned up in Sussex traps recently .

Warren Baker said...

As Greenie says, those moths turned up in some numbers during the hot spell just gone.

Looking at the light in your photo's makes me realise just how dim it is here -even when the suns out!!!!