Thursday 24 May 2018

The Urban Wildlife of Agios Nikolaos

Unfortunately we seem to be spending a lot of time in and around hospitals at the moment; in fact Mrs D is collecting hospials and departments like cards in a game of old maid. At the end of March she collected Pneumology from Agios Nikolaos and while we were there samping the delights of their cuisine (one night it was just a plastic bowl of wet rice) I managed to escape a few times and find a bit of peace with the urban wildlife. Here are a few of my favourites:

Fumaria capreolata, White Ramping-Fumitory

I hadn't seen this one before. Apparently the quaint English name indicates that it is a white flower, rearing up, with smoky leaves.

Psilothrix viridicoerulea, Soft-winged Flower Beetle

These are very common over here at this time of year and just look at the amount of pollen he's transferring as he makes his way among the flowers.

Syrphidae, Hoverfly

Beetles, bugs and bees are not the only pollinators of course; flies such as this Hoverfly (here pollinating some Cretan Viper's Grass, Scorzonera cretica), contribute vastly to plant pollination (see The Far Side).

Polistes bucharensis, Umbrella Paper Wasp

Spring, of course, is nest building time and this individual is bosy building her umbrella shaped nest. I'm sticking my neck out a bit with the species identification but for all you hymenopterists out there here is a link to the relevant scientific paper: Revision of the West Palaearctic Polistes Latreille, with the descriptions of two species – an integrative approach using morphology and DNA barcodes (Hymenoptera, Vespidae)

Philaeus chrysops, Goldeneye Jumping Spider

With all these insects about it is no surprise to find a few preatory spiders about. These are both the same species; the one on the left sporting the long, hairy beard is the female and the colourful one on the right is the male.

Limax flavus, Cellar, Tawny Garden or Yellow Slug
Just because you are a slug doesn't mean that you can't make an attempt at looking pretty (in fact some of the sea slugs are prettier than any piece of jewelery). The top two tentacles are it's sight organs and the lower two are its olfactory organs. If the slug loses any of them through not pulling it in quick enough it can grow a new one.

The Extra Bit

You may be wondering where all the larger animals such as the urban fox are - well, the fox never made it to Crete. We have our own subspecies of Badger and Hedgehog but I didn't see any in the town. As for the birds, I didn't get to photograph any but I was serenaded by a beautiful nightingale as I slipped out of the hospital for a cigarette at four in the morning.

Next time: something for the butterfly lovers. See you soon, Steve.

Photographic Bit

Many of you have asked me what photographic equipment I use so for details of aperture settings, shutter speeds etc. my pictures will be on Flickr within a few days and that has all the geeky stuff.Pictures were edited with FastStone Image Viewer and combined with Microsoft Paint.

Share your nature thoughts, photos and comments on Naturalists (the facebook page that accompanies this blog)

Explore the region with the #CreteNature interactive Hiking and Nature Map


  1. Beautiful photos! I hope your hospital tours soon end, though, and favourably.


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