The Mani is spectacular from pine forests in the mountains down through the long, deep gorges to the olive groves and stony coast. The summits of the Taygetos remain snow covered and often drowned in heavy grey cloud; the plants will be at their best in another month or so. The high tops and vertical cliffs and gorges are the only true wilderness of the Mani, the rest accessed by ubiquitous goat herds.
The pine forests are cleared in places where sweet chestnut plantations with fruit orchards are tended. The cleared land is filled with flowering plants but the insects are not much in evidence.
The mid hills are rich in wildlife as spring strikes. High olive groves filled with flowers give way to maquis and the bare mosaic, in places heavily grazed by goats, holds orchids and cyclamen. Towards Monemvasia there are goatherds in the olive groves with great dogs, some aggressive but some others quite the opposite.
The walk down from Eleochorio zigs zags down to the dry stream valley. The butterflies at the base are especially rich along the sheltered path. Kestrels continue to feed young on the cliff and snake eagles are still noisy and still quarter the maquis as a pair; nesting must commence soon.
The coasts are turning to autumn browns; the blue rock thrushes are feeding young and alpine swifts and common swifts are nesting in the caves. Kestrels mob the buzzards and the peregrine feeds young. There is no sign of Eleanora’s falcons that should arrive soon. The Easter crowds have gone but the coast is never empty as it was in February and the busy summer is just around the corner; it is time to leave.
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Lovely post. Sad about the martins.
Thanks and yes It is sad – I witnessed the same pattern in Montenegro and guess they must be dispersing in spring…
Haven’t seen ascalaphids since the first time we went to Greece in 1982 – lovely creatures. And I’m impressed with your bee-fly image. You’ve clearly had a fantastic time, but I guess you’re home now and missing the wildlife and landscapes – just as we will miss your posts from Mani.
I was trying to remember the ascalaphid name and failed – thanks WTM. Yes was home briefly but enjoying 2 weeks in North Carolina which is making leaving the riches of the Mani fairly painless. Heatwave here but still oodles of wildlife…
Beautiful images, love Greece.