Page open. And at last beginning to move. For the moment we are keeping this superb Scarce swallowtail butterfly, (Papilionidae - maybe papilio machaon) which accompanied the page unavailable notice, right here!
The start Paul Smith gave us with ornithology is now firmly established and well supported. Paul, an English resident and expert on our local bird -life has now been covering this aspect of Cretan countryside on a regular basis, including a monthly diary of his sightings, for more than two years. He has a regular following. All his sightings are archived here on site. His link is below.
Cretan countryside is also about magnificent views. Oil painted sunrises; oil painted sunsets. Flowers; eagles; hawks; owls; maybe a badger or two. Star studded and often moonlit nights. While on the walls of your house the geckos sit motionless waiting for an unwary moth to alight. Come. Enjoy!
It must have been the early 60's when I last saw a field lying fallow - full of wild flowers and grasses mixed into a Van Gogh that even he couldn't capture the scent in! Here in NW Crete, particularly the earlier part of the year - especially March until maybe the end of May, wild flowers abound. My childhood fields of wild flowers and grasses, now a housing estate in the UK, are alive and well and living right here on Crete. At least for a few months every year. So are the hedgerows - even along major roads - where there are blossoms worthy of the Chelsea Flower Show for several months from around the end of May. We have spent last year and most of this year so far photographing them. Now we are making a serious effort to show something of the flowers here in new galleries.
Fact: There are (+/- an unknown number) around 2000 major plant species here. Around 160 are said to be exclusively endemic - found naturally nowhere else in the world.
Whilst we are not concentrating on the exclusives and exotics we are not excluding them either. We have no doubt that our galleries will not disappoint and will show many of the superb Cretan flora.
|Fauna. To say the least, out of town the wildlife is abundant. But not always domesticated. The more common mammals - dogs; cats; sheep; goats; donkeys; mules; badgers and the like are very easy to spot, though not always tame - you can often spot sheep wearing muzzles! Reptiles
such as snakes, lizards and frogs are by no means unusual and more often than not colourful additions to the countryside. But there are exceptions - there is a poisonous snake - an Adder; a poisonous spider; and our local brown scorpions have -apparently- a nasty sting. There are some quite colourful insects, but whilst they form part of the food chain, some apparently feel that it starts with mammals - including
us, rather than the other way around.
Fact: Any decent tome on entomology will tell us that there are more than a million identified species of insect (and still counting) in the world, with well over 100,000 to be found in Europe.
Some insects tend to seem a bit creepy - I don't feel particularly at ease with spiders; cockroaches; centipedes; millipedes; earwigs; woodlice and the like. But. Living on Crete has changed my attitude to insects immensely. The variety of superbly colourful flying insects - wasps; bees; butterflies; dragonflies; crickets; stick insects; the magnificent potter wasp which
built Grecian urns on our kitchen ceiling; the paper wasps building nests under our eves; lacewings; dragonflies and the very special mayflies, which I am convinced are mistaken for the fairies at the bottom of your garden; are all examples of insects which make the environment so much more colourful..... Even tiny beetles seem to wear coloured armour. We don't have a resident entomologist, but we will bring you a small photo gallery to show a few local
examples a little later.
|SAFETY. Crete is a veritable Mecca for lovers of countryside. A Mecca for walkers; photographers; flower collectors; bird-watchers; and a myriad of other specialist interests until the autumn heat turns the land a dull brown and there is serious risk of the dangerous fires which affect the whole of Greece, not just Crete, at this time of the year. Care in the countryside at that time means not causing the loss of acres of flora and fauna - trees, plants, animals, homes and even people. Or risking the lives of the firefighters both on the ground and in the air...|