The Ionian Sea

OUR BALCONY looks out towards the rugged limestone hills of the Greek mainland across the calm (while we were there) Ionian Sea. Every evening and morning there were a few small fishing boats about. I was impressed by the variety of fish at the fish stalls by the harbour; anchovies and sardines, the occasional pipefish, Red Scorpion-fish, still alive but gasping in their crate, which the fishermen warned us were difficult to prepare, a swordfish and other species which looked vaguely familiar but which I couldn’t put a name to. I did feel that some of the fish were rather small, particularly the swordfish which was little more than eighteen inches long including the sword. Hope that’s not an indication of overfishing. If you’ve caught a small swordfish, I guess that it’s then too late throw it back in to grow to adult size, so it might as well be eaten.

Common Wall Lizard, Podarcis muralis, this lizard with an orange underside and blue beneath the chin is the one that we see basking at the edge of the pavement as we walk into Benitses.

Naked Man Orchid

The Naked Man Orchid, Orchis italica, is found throughout the Mediterranean on grassy slopes, as here amongst the olives and cyrpresses, and in heathy garrigue and maquis habitats. Edward Lear was an enthusiastic visitor to Corfu and made watercolour sketches here. These flowers, with ‘arms’, ‘legs’ and anatomical details, remind me of the species Manypeeplia upsidedownia in his Nonsense Botany.

According to Collins Complete Guide to Mediterranean Wildlife, Red Helleborine, Cephalanthera rubra, ‘favours dry, shady woodlands, invariably on calcareous soils’, which is a good description of this clearing amongst the olives.

A Blue Pimpernel

The intense blue put me off but I should have realised that this flower growing by a dry path on an east-facing slope through the olives is a relative of our Scarlet Pimpernel, that grows in similar situations back home. It’s Anagallis foemina.

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