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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Chrysopigi – Source of Gold

There's gold in them thar hills! (or so the saying goes) and the name of the next village on our route means just that. I can't promise you gold but there are plenty of blues and whites, the colours of Greece; from the light fluffy clouds in a forget-me-not sky to the small white and common blue butterflies that dance along the roadside verges. The former preferring the smelly Henbane whilst the latter opt for the more delicate European Heliotrope. But let us delve down between these two rock pillars and see what we can find in the hidden depths.








In a month or two's time there will be torrents of water rushing through here but now there are treasures to be found in the sylvan gloom (if you'll just stop looking for gold nuggets under the rocks a moment). These magnificent berries ripening from green to gold (found some!) to brilliant red are the fruits of Black Bryony (Dioscorea communis). Definitely not on the menu though as they are highly poisonous. It is a climbing plant and always entwines itself clockwise, following the sun. It's eerily quiet and still isn't it, but I just caught a movement out of the corner of my eye.












There look, it's just landed beside you. Despite its name, the Common Winter Damselfly (Sympecma fusca), I think it's a lovely little insect. They are unusual in that they are the only dragon/damselflies that overwinter as adults, according to the literature at any rate. Here in Crete I've seen Red-veined Darters in January but maybe they don't read the right field guides. I think that we've exhausted the possibilities of this habitat for the moment so let's continue on to the village which nestles at the base of the Ornos Mountains. As Ornos means mountain this is a bit of a tautology, much like naming a river Avon. Funny old thing, language.





I see that the swallows are still flying above the cliffs, way up in the sky and there are a couple of distant ravens about but what do you make of these white crumbly rocks amid the limestone greys? You can scratch them with your thumbnail. A look at the geological map shows a black square representing gypsum just about where we are standing and this is it. This is the stuff that plaster casts are made from and if you were to scramble up there – not wise as it's very crumbly – you'd very likely fall and break a leg. With a decent pen-knife and a bottle of water you could set your own fracture. An interesting example of nature providing the problem and solution in the same place.

If you look at the Google map you can clearly see the gypsum deposit but look at the wider picture of Mt. Ornos, it seems to be made up of concentric rings. I only know of two ways in which rings like this are formed; volcanoes and meteors. As far as I am aware Crete has never had a volcano of its own but I have found a reference to a significant meteor strike1 around 333AD and I wonder if this is the result? I'm no geologist so I could be wide of the mark but if anyone can shed some light on this I'm really intrigued.



Calliptamus barbarus
We haven't looked at grasshoppers yet this series, despite the fact that they've been bounding around our feet every time we move, so lets remedy that by getting up close and personal to old Tithonus here. You don't know Tithonus? Well, a very long time ago he was a mortal in love with Eos, the goddess of the dawn. The feeling being mutual Eos asked Zeus to make him immortal which he did... and Tithonus got older and older and older. Not exactly what Eos had planned but as Zeus pointed out to her “You never actually asked for the eternal youth bit, did you?” Eos left with a “Humph!' whilst Zeus chuckled away to himself for several hundred years and Tithonus withered away until little was left of him but his voice. Eos cared for him all this time but felt so sorry for him that she changed him into the insect that we now know as a grasshopper and he's been chirruping away, welcoming the dawn, ever since.

OK, so not biologically accurate but a nice little story to finish up with after all that geology.


The Extra Bit

1 The reference to the meteor strike can be found in the following paper https://www.knowledgeminer.eu/climate/pdf/hc6.pdf

Photographic Bit

Many of you have asked me what photographic equipment I use so here's a quick rundown on the cameras used for each picture. 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.

Picture 1 Nikon Coolpix S33
Insets Canon EOS 1300D
Picture 2 Nikon Coolpix S33
Insets Nikon Coolpix S33
Picture 3 Canon EOS 1300D
Insets
Picture 4 Nikon Coolpix S33
Insets 1. Map from Rackham, O. and Moody, J., The Making of the Cretan Landscape 2. Nikon Coolpix S33 3. Brunel SP-20 Light microscope 4. Google maps
Picture 5 Canon EOS 1300D
Insets
Extra Bit pictures

Pictures were edited with FastStone Image Viewer and combined with Microsoft Paint.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Steve's Nature Quiz #20

This is a male Common Darter dragonfly but where does the female drop her eggs?

In the soil?

In the water?

In the air?

Common Darter, Sympetrum striolatum


The male clasps the female as they fly through the air and they swoop down over the water in tandem. Then, at the lowest point of the arc the female releases her eggs where they scatter over the water. So, if you said water then you were partially right but she actually drops them from the air.

More fascinating nature facts as this week's #CreteNature Blog explores the area around the village of Stavrohouri in east Crete.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

To Stavrochori

As we leave the village of Orino we have a decision to make. There are two ways in which we can drive on to our next port of call which is Stavrochori; we can go over the mountains (which is prettier) or return to the coast road (which is less painful). Although there is a lovely tarmacadamed road leading out of Orino it isn't quite finished yet and the last couple of miles into Stavrochori is a dirt track. Quite drivable in a 4x4 but a bit rough on our little Alto. Now may be a good point to mention hire car insurance: you are not automatically covered for off-roading (not even for a quad bike). In view of that, and the fact that there's a little reservoir I want us to take a look at, we'll drop back down to the coast, turn left at Koutsouras and come up through the valley.

According to my reckoning the reservoir should be somewhere down beyond that church.

OK, so it wasn't. No matter, I'm sure we'll find it somewhere nearby. Meanwhile here's a lovely bit of rocky valley which we can explore so let's see who's about. Autumnal reds and browns seem to be predominating which makes the occupants a little hard to detect but a Common Darter has just landed down there ahead of you. As their name suggests, they are one of the most common dragonflies in Europe. In the more northerly latitudes you'll only find them on the wing in summer and autumn but down here in the south they fly all the year round. The butterfly that has just landed on that pine tree over there, on the other hand, is not so common. It is a Cretan Grayling and you'll only find it here on Crete where it is fairly abundant. A couple of nice insects to start with but let's go on back up the road a little and have another go at finding this reservoir.

Well, here it is, and what a sorry sight it looks – at first glance but the film buffs among you will doubtless be aware that Deadpools have amazing powers of recovery and this one will be no exception. The autumn rains will be upon us soon for the first time since May and a myriad plants and creatures will return. There must be some moisture still down there because we have a fine covering of Nettle-leaved Goosefoot. This is a common edible plant of Europe, Asia and North Africa which is also well established in parts of the New World. It is part of the Amaranth family which makes it a close relative of Spinach and you can eat both the leaves and the seeds. The seeds however, which can be ground to make flour, should be soaked first to remove the saponins which are somewhat bitter. Let's have a poke about down there and see what we can find.




Butterflies are beautiful and moths are drab is a widespread misconception. Moths can be just as attractive, you just have to look a little closer sometimes. Take this little fellow for instance; a lovely little moth of the Noctuidae family called the Pale Shoulder. As a caterpillar he's not over fussy about foodstuffs but prefers mallows, bindweeds, dandelions and also goosefoots which is why it is not surprising to see him here.








Hello, who is this grinning at us like a petrified cartoon character? It's alright, we won't harm you. This is a Grasshopper of the Calliptamus genus and despite that formidable dentistry he is a vegetarian (or herbivore in zoological parlance). The dentistry of any animal can tell you a lot about its evolution and current eating preferences. We, for instance, are omnivores with teeth that have evolved for eating both meat and vegetable matter and our digestive systems have likewise evolved to digest and utilise both food sources. Vegetarianism is a valid lifestyle preference but rather goes against our biology as a species but each to his own. Hark! Did you hear that mechanical shriek like rusty farm machinery? That was either a local farmer trying to coax some life into his rotavator or...




There it is look, just popped out of that olive tree onto the fence. It's a Red-backed Shrike, either a female or a juvenile, and I only ever see them at this time of year. They have a somewhat eccentric migratory pattern. Those that spend the summer in Spain or the south of France head east to northern Italy or Greece before wheeling right to come down over us on their way to the eastern end of the north African coast. Scandinavian birds fly south west to Italy initially before turning south east and following their French and Spanish brethren. What is more, they do it at night and are not above breakfasting on other small migrating birds. They'll also go for reptiles and small mammals but chiefly they'll sit on a perch like this and then dive in to the undergrowth for insects like our friends the moth and the grasshopper. Having caught its prey it will often impale it upon a tree thorn for later consumption and for this reason Shrikes are also known as Butcher Birds.

All of which is making me feel rather peckish so let's head off into the village where there are no fewer than three good tavernas to choose from.

The Extra Bit


Stavrochori is quite a large village and somewhat spread out but I think that if we make our entrance through this alleyway then the square should be up here somewhere, or maybe just around this corner, and down these steps, or possibly round the back of that church. We seem to be back on the main road. I know it's in here somewhere. Try those steps. OK lets' go back to the car and drive around to the other end of the village and attack from the other side.



Can anyone smell souvlaki cooking? You can? Follow that nose! There. Simple when you now how. Just like buses really, you don't see a taverna for half an hour then two come along at once. A nice bit of shade though and they've even got an ornamental pond. Now, where's the beer fridge?





Photographic Bit

Many of you have asked me what photographic equipment I use so here's a quick rundown on the cameras used for each picture. 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.

Picture 1  Nikon Coolpix S33
Insets Google Maps
Picture 2 Nikon Coolpix S33
Insets Canon EOS 1300D
Picture 3 Nikon Coolpix S33
Insets Canon EOS 1300D
Picture 4 Canon EOS 1300D
Picture 5 Canon EOS 1300D
Picture 6 Nikon Coolpix S33
Extra Bit pictures Nikon Coolpix S33

Pictures were edited with FastStone Image Viewer and combined with Microsoft Paint.




*********************************************************************
LINKS:
Share your nature thoughts, photos and comments on Naturalists (the facebook page that accompanies this blog)
See detailed pictures on Flickr
Read more about the flora and flora of the island in The Nature of Crete (Flipboard Magazine)
Explore the region with the #CreteNature interactive Hiking and Nature Map



Monday, 9 October 2017

Steve's nature Quiz #19

Last week's #CreteNature blog featured butterflies, dragonflies and hoverflies but which one of these is really a type of fly?


Butterflies have four wings covered in tiny scales and, together with moths, form the order of insects called the Lepidoptera (originally from the Greek meaning scaly wings). Dragonflies also have four wings and, along with damselflies, form the order Odonata (again, originally from the Greek, this time for tooth - as is dentist - referring to their rather formidable mouth parts). Hoverflies, house flies, mosquitoes, midges and a host of others have only two wings and form the order Diptera (from the Greek again; di + ptera meaning two wings). So, whenever you see an insect with only two wings you can be sure that it is a type of fly.

More insect facts, some beautiful flowers and scenery as well as some rare Cretan frogs as the #CreteNature blog wends it's way up to the mountain village of Orino. http://bit.ly/2xRJuLH

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

To the Village of Orino

Much as it grieves me to leave Nikki's kafenion in Schinokapsala and all those delicious grapes we shall press onwards and upwards to the village of Orino. As we leave the village, heading east, we are at about 1300 feet (400m). Where we are heading is over 2000 feet up in the Thriptis mountains and there is some pretty spectacular scenery upon the way. 

Ah, there's the turning for Mavros Kolimbos and just past here on the left is a little reservoir that's always worth a visit. No birds today, although a pair of ravens have just cronked overhead, but we have a couple of little friends taking a drink at the water's edge. Firstly we have a Keeled Skimmer of the Orthetrum genus. The males of this genus are easy to recognise by their powder blue colour (as opposed to the metallic blue of the much larger Emperors of the Anax genus). The other fellow taking advantage of the algal mat as a landing stage is an Oriental Hornet. This is an east Asian/north African species that appears to be spreading into southern Europe which is not good news for bee keepers as bee hives appear to be one of it's favourite food sources with the bees and their larvae providing protein and the honey providing carbohydrates. On the other hand, they're great pollinators and they are not aggressive (you can get up close and photograph them) although the sting is painful if you happen to sit on one.


As I promised there are lovely views up through the mountains. This is the top of Red Butterfly Gorge, the lower end of which we visited a few years back and just around the bend is Orino itself with its lovely pergolaed village square. And now I should like to introduce you to my wife Christina who will be my nose and ears for our excursions. I've been virtually anosmic for years and I'm pretty near deaf in one ear so I can never pinpoint where anything is. Christina, on the other hand, is virtually blind but between the two of us we can muster up a good set of senses. Anyhow, we'll leave Christina here chatting to a Chaffinch that she assures me is in that tree to my left and go and investigate the top end of the village square.

A nice little pool before the stream dips under the square with some Maidenhair Fern and what looks to be a little patch of Fleabane growing over there on the left. And right over there at the back, a Marmalade Hoverfly has just landed. Not the most spectacular of insects you may think but hoverflies are important biological control agents (this one's larvae eat aphids) as well as being great pollinators. They also migrate long distances and have their own monitoring scheme at Exeter University in the UK as we try to find out more about these little guys and how they help our agricultural efforts (before we destroy them all with insecticides). What I don't see here are any frogs. Maybe we'll have more luck on the other side of the square where the stream re-emerges.


Now, just across the road I see a little alleyway and with luck it will lead us down to the water's edge. Hmm, a lovely old tree and a lot of concrete. I think that we'll have to try and get further down. Tricky but 'do-able'. 

And worth the effort, no less than five Cretan Frogs taking the morning sun. Yes, I did say Cretan Frogs, you'll find them nowhere else in the world and they have a certificate to prove it. To whit: “The species status of Pelophylax cretensis is "confirmed" by short mtDNA sequences and a large number of private allozyme alleles not found in any other water frog.” so the IUCN Red List tells us. Unfortunately it also tells us that it is an endangered species. Like any species endemic to a particular island it is vulnerable to a major disaster such as Santorini blowing its top but in addition habitats like this are declining. Not only is this part of the island getting drier as the climate warms but what water there is gets forced down these ubiquitous plastic pipes for agricultural use downhill. And there's the rub; the human population of Crete needs agriculture to survive economically, the burgeoning world human population needs more and more agriculture to feed itself and the cost is biodiversity. What is particularly galling is the amount of water that gets wasted through leaky pipes and inefficient watering. The technology exists to ameliorate these problems but agricultural water is still cheap on Crete and technology is expensive. Back to simple economics again. The problem will undoubtedly solve itself. As water becomes scarcer it will necessarily become more expensive and better water control will become a viable option. But why wait until then? Better watering practices now will keep the water prices low as well as saving money in the meantime (water is cheap but not free). Meanwhile we'll enjoy the frogs while we still can and in case anyone is thinking “who needs frogs anyway?” guess who eats the cockroaches that invade the greenhouses, to say nothing of mosquito larvae. If you don't want Crete to be insect heaven then save water and save a frog I say.


The Extra Bit

There's a nice little kafenion in the village but unfortunately it is closed today so we'll mosey on back to Schinokapsala. Meanwhile lets see how Christina is getting on with her chaffinch.

What have you got there?”

A sweet lady came and gave me this bag of apples and walnuts to have with my coffee.”

(Cretans are very thoughtful and generous like that).

How lovely. I wonder what would happen if I sat you outside Lidl's with a hat?”

(Time to go I think).


Photographic Bit

Many of you have asked me what photographic equipment I use so here's a quick rundown on the cameras used for each picture. 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.

Picture 1 Nikon Coolpix S33
Insets Canon EOS 1300D
Picture 2 Nikon Coolpix S33
Insets Canon EOS 1300D
Picture 3 Canon EOS 1300D
Insets Canon EOS 1300D
Picture 4 Canon EOS 1300D
Picture 5 Nikon Coolpix S33
Insets Canon EOS 1300D
Picture 6 Canon EOS 1300D

Pictures were edited with FastStone Image Viewer and combined with Microsoft Paint.




*********************************************************************
LINKS:
Share your nature thoughts, photos and comments on Naturalists (the facebook page that accompanies this blog)
See detailed pictures on Flickr
Read more about the flora and flora of the island in The Nature of Crete (Flipboard Magazine)
Explore the region with the #CreteNature interactive Hiking and Nature Map


Saturday, 30 September 2017

Steve's Nature Quiz #18

Kibbling? What on earth is that?

a) The brother or sister of a goat.

b) Separating the seeds from a carob pod.

c) The act of kissing and nibbling as practised in the courting rituals of many animal species (including us).


Much as I would like it to be either a) or c) the answer is the rather more mundane b). It's carob picking season here in Crete and when the harvest has been gathered in there will be an awful lot of kibbling going on around the villages. Why not tag along with us as we tour the upland villages of east Crete amid the autumn flowers and wonderful wildlife in Series 6 of the #CreteNature blog?

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

To The Village of Schinokapsala

Welcome back! In the last three series we've trekked up hill and down dale and frolicked with the fishes in the Libyan Sea. And now for something completely different...a tour of the upland villages of eastern Crete taking in the beautiful scenery and amazing wildlife along the way. So hop in alongside me and we'll pootle along the coast from our base in Ferma, take a left in the village of Galini and head up into the hills. This road meanders along the edge of the Eden Valley and in places the outcrops of rock hang suspended above the road in a most unnerving way. If we bear right here, through the olive groves, we'll make a stop in the Aschlia valley. I see that the carob picking season has begun so lets halt under this carob tree at the side of the road and sit upon the wall awhile.

Carob harvesting involves hitting the tree with a stick to knock the pods down whilst trying not to damage the delicate flowers which appear at the same time. When you've picked them all up, you dry them in the sun and then you're ready for a spot of kibbling. This is the process of separating the seeds from the pods (the broken bits of dried pod are the kibbles). Then you take the seeds, roast and peel them. The naked kernels (embryos), peel (endosperm) and kibbles are all used. The embryos make a gluten free, protein rich flour; the endosperm is used to make a gum that, amongst other things, puts the jelly into cat and dog food and the kibbles make a caffeine free chocolate substitute. Useful plant the carob.

Talking of harvesting it looks as though the blackberries are beginning to ripen and the butterflies are taking full advantage. There's a Clouded Yellow darting about, one of the blues just settling and a Speckled Wood patrolling up and down. Another Speckled Wood has just joined the company and the two of them are haring around the bushes, us and the car. I think that our guy is chasing off a pretender to his throne. Meanwhile, on the car, we have a Seed Bug that I haven't encountered before. An all white car and he's chosen to land on the black trim between the windows. Insects are cold blooded of course and black absorbs the heat so maybe he's been foraging about in the shade and has taken this opportunity for a warm up.

And harvesting of a different sort seems to be taking place on the wall behind you, just look at that crowd of Lepisiota ants swarming over that dead mantis. Yes, you're probably wise to get up – I've warned you about wearing shorts before on these trips. Where would we be without these ladies though? They're the undertakers of the insect world. All ants are eusocial which means they are born to perform different tasks, they have more than one generation in the colony and they cooperate in caring for their young. Not totally dissimilar to ourselves really which may explain why both ants and ourselves are such highly successful animals. Some may say too successful (in both cases).



And at this point I suggest that we do a little harvesting of our own. Just a little way up the road is the village of Charred Oak, or Schinokapsala as the locals insist on spraying it, where Nikki keeps a kafenion with a magnificent old grapevine which should be laden with fruit about now. Ouzo and a bunch of grapes on a shady terrace overlooking the sea; what could make a better end to the first leg of our journey?

Have you ever wondered why bottles are hung in trees like that? Insect traps maybe – but there's no way for the insects to get in. Bird scarers? - there's no fruit to protect. The answer is much simpler – they are weights. Trees have a tendency to grow upwards so if you want a tree to have shade giving branches at a convenient height you weigh them down as they are growing. Simple but effective.

The Extra Bit

There's a lovely bit of action going on down here on the floor; we've got a seed bug and a jumping spider on a collision course and they haven't seen each other yet. Now they have. The spider stops..adjusts...and pounces. And almost in the same movement.. jumps back again. I thought he was being a bit optimistic although I've seen them take on flies bigger than themselves. Perhaps it was the warning colouration.



Photographic Bit

Many of you have asked me what photographic equipment I use so here's a quick rundown on the cameras used for each picture. 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.

Picture 1 Nikon Coolpix S33
Insets Nikon Coolpix S33
Picture 2 Fujifilm FinePix S2500HD
Picture 3 Canon EOS 1300D
Insets (Butterflies) Konica Minolta DiMage Z3 (Blackberries and Bug) Nikon Coolpix S33
Picture 4 Nikon Coolpix S33
Picture 5 Canon EOS 1300D
Extra Bit Canon EOS 1300D

Pictures were edited with FastStone Image Viewer and combined with Microsoft Paint.




*********************************************************************
LINKS:
Share your nature thoughts, photos and comments on Naturalists (the facebook page that accompanies this blog)
See detailed pictures on Flickr
Explore the region with the #CreteNature interactive Hiking and Nature Map

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Steve's Nature Quiz #17

Is Turkey Tangle Frogfruit effective against

a)  suppurating sores

b) stones

c) the common cold


According to Sanskrit literature Turkey Tangle Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) is/was considered by the Hindus to be efficacious against all three. Phytochemical analysis by  the Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology at Loyola College in Chennai, India in 2015 showed that "All the extracts from Phyla nodiflora had inhibitory effects in both bacteria and fungi. The results of this study clearly proved that (the) plant is a potential source of natural antimicrobial agents." Good for suppurating sores then and possibly against the common cold if it is bacterial and not viral in origin but not necessarily against stones.
More fascinating facts and photos in this week's #CreteNature blog Ferma's Covert Coves

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Ferma's Covert Coves

I thought I'd save the best until last. For the past weeks we've been ambling around the village of Ferma from the hills above to the underwater world of Livadi bay but at the eastern end of the village there are a series of tiny coves that few know about. From up here on the eastern cliff you can see the curvature of the horizon which means that we have a fair few steps to negotiate to get down there. 




It's over forty degrees today and I pity this poor spider with a mass of egg cases on her back. That's one hot mamma. Spiders of course are arachnids, named after a Greek peasant girl called Arachne and I'll tell you her story as we make our descent. Arachne had a talent for weaving, quite a prodigious talent in fact. So much so that she came to the notice of Athena (the goddess after whom Athens is named) who also considered herself a dab hand at the loom. Now gods and goddesses tend to get a bit sulky when us mere mortals approach their standards of excellence and Arachne was in danger of not just approaching but surpassing Athena's talent so Athena decided that a competition should be held to prove who was best. In most versions of the story Arachne won (although it was a close run thing). Whichever, Athena still claimed the ultimate victory on the grounds that Arachne's talent could only have been given to her from the gods and therefore she was only a mere instrument of Athena's own talent. “Nice try,” says Arachne, (somewhat unwisely) “but how about just admitting you've been beaten and being magnanimous in defeat?” Not being particularly fond of eating humble pie Athena promptly turned Arachne into a spider and cursed her and her descendants to weave nothing but webs forever more. 

Here we are at last and a nice little overhang to keep the sun off our heads. Do you see that little fish down there? Look at the way he's probing the sand with those two feelers. He's a goatfish (often called a red mullet although he's not closely related to the grey mullets in the way that red and grey squirrels are which is rather confusing). Those feelers are called barbels and he's using them to probe for food. This one is probably a youngster judging by his size and the fact that he's so close to shore. When he gets bigger and bolder he'll brave the deeper waters. 

There's a little channel here leading to another cove, what say we crawl through and investigate? There's another little fish here, superbly camouflaged against the sandy bottom. This one is a Goby, scientifically Gobius incognitus and I mention this only because the incognitus refers to the fact that, despite being common and widespread, it was only discovered to be a separate species from other gobies a couple of years ago.





Well, well, well, another private little cove, not only with built-in sun shade but a sandy beach as well. The little fish that we saw with the black and white markings near the tail as we swam in were Saddled Bream. It is one of a number of different sea breams that are important food fish in the Mediterranean. As a group, sea breams have been around for about 55 million years with the Saddled Bream making its first appearance about 48 million years ago so we've been eating them for as long as we've been in existence. All this lazing about in the shallows is very nice but I think we'd better start the long climb back.

Anyone for Turkey Tangle Frogfruit? A lovely little plant of the Verbena family but what a weird name. It makes one think that frogs like to eat it whilst turkeys trip over it but honestly, I've no idea how it came to be called that. I know that two or three species of caterpillar like to dine on it and it is supposed to cure everything from suppurating sores to stones to the common cold (or leastways to aid in recovery from same). Meanwhile we don't have any caterpillars but we do have a nice little bee fly come in for lunch. I think that this one is of the Exoprosopa genus, a useful little fly as it parasitises, among other insects, the larvae of locusts and wasps. I've seen neither the plant nor the fly around here before so that's a lovely way to finish our tour of the village of Ferma. And now I think... a cool beer in one of our tavernas is in order.

The Extra Bit

It really is getting stupidly hot now so I suggest that we take a little break for a few weeks and get together when the weather cools down a bit towards the end of next month. Until then, enjoy the rest of the summer (or winter if you're in the southern hemisphere) and follow me on Google+, Facebook Naturalists  or Twitter @cretenaturalist for details of Series 6 of the #Cretenature Blog.

Having just published this and checked it I noticed an advert in the side panel for Life Science Toolbox that looked interesting. I generally ignore adverts (like you do I expect) but the ads are starting to come in that are relevant to our interests so keep an eye on them, you never know what you may find. 

Photographic Bit

Many of you have asked me what photographic equipment I use so here's a quick rundown on the cameras used for each picture. 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.

Picture 1 Nikon Coolpix S33
Picture 2 Nikon Coolpix S33
Inset Canon EOS 1300D
Picture 3 Nikon Coolpix S33
Inset Nikon Coolpix S33
Picture 4 Nikon Coolpix S33
Inset Nikon Coolpix S33
Picture 5 Nikon Coolpix S33
Inset Nikon Coolpix S33
Picture 6 Canon EOS 1300D
Inset Canon EOS 1300D

Pictures were edited with FastStone Image Viewer and combined with Microsoft Paint.