Join us in the Greek island of Crete this spring for a fine mix of eastern Mediterranean flora and fauna!
Crete is famous for its wild flowers and has around 1600 species to enjoy, including numerous endemics! We visit in April, an optimum time for a mixture of flowers, butterflies, birds on migration and general wildlife. We should enjoy ample sunshine and warm temperatures too, all in all a very relaxing week spent on a Greek island wander!
We will split our week between two bases in Western Crete. From Chania we’ll take a leisurely drive for an hour or so due south, to our first hotel in the hills. Here we will spend first two nights. The Chania prefecture is the greenest part of the island, thanks to all the rainfall provided by the White Mountains. These limestone guardians of the landscape dominate the region and we’ll be ideally located for exploring some of the best sites in the area, without having to venture too far.
Amongst the magnificent grandeur of the White Mountains we’ll also zoom in on small treasures such as the Snow or Cretan Crocus Crocus sieberi and mats of the bright blue Anchusa caespitose. The Gorges also provide dramatic landscapes, where we’ll walk in wonder of our surroundings, whilst finding plenty of flowers of interest, such as Paeonia clusii. On the high Omalos plateau we’ll look for the Lammergeiers that inhabit the area and try to see the Cretan Wild Goats too. Here we’ll also be dazzled by the swathes of Tulips, Anemones and Orchids.
Next we will head southeast to Plakias, a traditional village situated on one of the most spectacular and unspoilt stretches of Crete’s southern coast. We will spend the rest of the holiday based here, which will give us the chance of a dip in the ocean to go with our wildlife watching and island exploring!
It won’t be long before we’re amongst the rich tapestry of plants, which include between 30-40 species of orchid, various Tulips, Anemones, Fritillaries, Campanulas, Cyclamens and many more! During the week there will be many special and endemic plant species to enjoy, such as the impressive Cretan Arum, the rare and bright red coloured Tulipa doerfleri, the endemic Tulipa cretica & Crocus sieberi, soft pink Tulipa saxatilis, delightful Iris cretensis and what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful flowers on Crete, the White Peony Paeonia clusii.
Orchids will be one of our main target groups and we’ll enjoy a wealth of species, including endemics such as Orchis prisca & Orchis sitiaca. Other highlights include Ophrys heldreichii, the colourful Rainbow Ophrys Ophrys iricolor, the Cretan Bee orchid Ophrys Cretica and several forms of Ophyrs fusca such as the subspecies creberrima along with creticola and cressa.
We’ll also take breaks from looking down at the flora and spend some time observing the varied bird species on the island. These can include Griffon Vulture, Bearded Vulture, Golden Eagle, Peregrine, Buzzard, Cetti`s Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush, Fan-tailed Warbler, Crested Lark and Italian Sparrow. In higher ground and at the gorges and plateaus we may also find Alpine & Red-billed Chough, Woodlark, Cirl Bunting and Black-eared Wheatear. On and close to water we’ll look out for Little Bittern, Little Crake, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Night Heron, Egrets and more. There will also butterflies to hold our interest, including the endemic Cretan Festoon Allancastria cretica.