Wednesday 5 July 2017

How to be a Naturalist – Anywhere

I have said before that one of the great things about studying nature is that you can do it anywhere at any time. For this past week I have been given the chance to prove my point as I have been incarcerated in Ierapetra General Hospital looking after my good lady wife who has been having rather a rough time of it recently. 

One of the lovely things about Greek hospitals is that many of them have balconies which attract nesting birds. On our balcony measures had been taken to deter nesting pigeons which inadvertently provided ideal sites for House Sparrows. Undeterred the pigeons squeezed onto the top of an air conditioning unit  which a goldfinch would have thought twice about and tried to construct a nest by dropping sticks down the back and waiting to see if they fell through or not. 

Meanwhile the palm trees and the monkey puzzle tree below us provided perches for greenfinch, great tit and blackbird whilst in the sky above swifts and swallows and lesser black backed gulls graced the air. And last night we even had a barn owl glide through. 

The evenings gave us the opportunity to study some of the crepuscular insects that seemed determined to share a bed with the patients which included little brown ants, little green bugs and the inevitable mosquitoes. Having said that, resident insects within the hospital itself were virtually nil. Those that came in through the balcony doors were easily persuaded to leave and gave us no trouble at night. 

But best of all were the bats that had found a roost in the central block and came out at dusk each evening. With the sparrows decimating the insect population to feed their young during the day and the bats scything through them at night it's no wonder that the poor things sought refuge in the wards. Not sure of the species (we have sixteen on Crete) but I think that it is one of the four Pipistrelles to be found on the island. 

A bit short and sweet this week for obvious reasons but normal service will be resumed as soon as possible and we'll be back on the Ferma trail.

The Extra Bit 

Cretan have a great little wildlife section on their website with a whole page dedicated to the bats of Crete: Cretan - Bats of Crete 

Share your nature thoughts, photos and comments on Naturalists(the facebook page that accompanies this blog) 
Read more about the flora and flora of the island in The Nature of Crete(Flipboard Magazine) 
Explore the region with the #CreteNature interactiveHiking and Nature Map 


  1. Now that made me smile... can't keep a good naturalist down. Love to you both. X

  2. Given how fast they are; impressed you managed to photograph a bat. Hope your wife is soon well enough to leave the confines of hospital.

    1. Thank you Janet. The bat shot was one of dozens that I took, most of which showed fuzzy balls that could have been anything.

    2. My husband Peter, takes part in the annual Norfolk Bat Survey. He started in 2013 with recordings taken in three locations in our square on the map on three consecutive nights. We have seen a gradual decrease in species and numbers of fly pasts and put this down to the number of trees that have been felled in our village to make room for new homes grrrrrr... He received the results for this year's survey the other day and much to our surprise not only have the number of fly pasts increased on last year but also the numbers of species, with eight now gracing this area. The survey also provided the numbers with times during the night. The highest number of fly pasts were between 12 and 3 a.m. - no wonder we have not seen many when sitting out in our conservatory during the evenings until after dusk. I suppose we need to become night owls! I hope your wife is progressing well Steve.

    3. We're now back at home and Christina is recovering thank you Janet. Hopefully this summer I'll be able to photograph some of our local bats here in Ferma. Glad to hear that the Norfolk species are doing OK.

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