Species

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)

The Ferruginous Duck is an important species, which arrives in Greece during spring in order to nest (mainly in wetlands of northern and western Greece), while it can also be observed during migration and rarely in winter. The aforementioned species breeds rarely in southern Greece and therefore, its presence in the wetlands of the Peloponnese (Stymphalia, Strofylia) is very important. The Ferruginous Duck mainly prefers lakes with freshwater marshes and coastal wetlands. Also, the Ferruginous Duck forages in the surface or dives in shallow waters near dense vegetation. The main pressures and threats that the species has to face in Greece are firstly, degradation of freshwater habitats (such as: drainage, poor water management, pollution, etc.) and secondly illegal hunting.

The Ferruginous Duck is a trigger species of this particular Natura site (SPA/SAC) and is included in Annex I of the Birds Directive (2009/147/EC). Also, it is listed as Vulnerable (VU) in the Red Data Book of the Endangered Animals of Greece (Legakis & Maragou 2009), but also at a European level as well (Birdlife International 2004) and as a species of global conservation concern (SPEC1).

photograph: ©Andrea Bonetti / Piraeus Bank

Purple heron (Ardea purpurea)

One of the largest and most spectacular species of herons, it breeds in a few wetlands (mainly in northern Greece) while it can be observed more frequently during migration. Lake Stymphalia is one of the few wetlands in southern Greece where the species breeds (and the southernmost in Europe). The Purple Heron mainly nests in dense and extensive reedbeds and occasionally in riparian or littoral forests and feeds (usually hidden in dense vegetation) on aquatic insects, amphibians and fishes. The species is threatened by water pollution and degradation of wetlands (especially freshwater wetlands, such as lakes and marshes).

The Purple Heron is listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive (2009/147/EC). Also, it is listed as Endangered (EN) in the Red Data Book of the Endangered Animals of Greece (Legakis & Maragou 2009) as well as a species with an unfavourable European conservation status, but with less than half of the global breeding or wintering population within Europe (SPEC3).

photograph: ©Andrea Bonetti / Piraeus Bank

Little bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)

The Little Bittern is the smallest species of heron. It visits Greece in spring in order to breed (in Macedonia, Thrace and Epirus and locally in Peloponnese and some islands) and it is most commonly observed during migration. The species prefers freshwater wetlands, swamps, lakes with dense vegetation of tall reeds and trees (e.g. willows). Little Bittern feeds usually hidden at the dusk, with fishes, frogs, shrimps, spiders and insects. It is threatened by the loss and alteration of freshwater wetlands and the disturbance at the breeding habitats.

The species is listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive (2009/147/EC). It is also referred as a Least Concern (LC) species in the Red Data Book of the Endangered Animals of Greece (Legakis & Maragou 2009) as well as a species with an unfavourable European conservation status, but with less than half of the global breeding or wintering population within Europe (SPEC3).

photograph: ©Andrea Bonetti / Piraeus Bank

Lesser Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros)

The Lesser Horseshoe Bat is a species that can be found throughout the mainland and on some islands. The Lesser Horseshoe Bat can be observed in areas with extensive farming and a mosaic of habitats (e.g. hedges, hedgerows, riparian habitats). The breeding roosts (nursery colonies) are usually abandoned buildings or caves. Also, the Lesser Horseshoe Bat feeds mainly on midges, moths and craneflies and can be threatened by the abandonment of traditional agro-pastoral and agroforestry practices, the excessive use of pesticides as well as from the demolition of traditional houses.

The species is listed in Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). It is also referred as a Least Concern (LC) species in the Red Data Book of the Endangered Animals of Greece (Legakis & Maragou 2009) as well as in the IUCN Red List.

photograph: ©Andrea Bonetti / Piraeus Bank

Greater Horseshoe Βat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum)

The Greater Horseshoe Bat is the largest of the European horseshoe bats, which can be found throughout the mainland and on some islands. It feeds in areas with broadleaf forests, hedges, pastures and grazing areas or near riparian vegetation. The breeding roosts (nursery colonies) are usually located at underground sites (caves, etc.). Also, the aforementioned species can be threatened by the degradation of the foraging habitats, the use of pesticides as well as from tourism visits in caves.

The species is listed in Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). It is also referred as a Least Concern (LC) species in the Red Data Book of the Endangered Animals of Greece (Legakis & Maragou 2009) as well as in the IUCN Red List.

photograph: ©Andrea Bonetti / Piraeus Bank

Daska or Stymphalia Minnow (Pelasgus or Phoxinellus or Pseudophoxinus stymphalicus)

Pelasgus stymphalicus is a small endemic fish of the family of Cyprinids (Cyprionidae). The distribution of the species includes besides Lake Stymphalia (where the center of species’ range is, and where it got its name) the rivers Alpheus, Peneus and Aetolia and Lefkada.

It is found in springs with fresh water and wetlands associated with them. It feeds on invertebrates (copepods, cladocerans, small gastropods, insects, etc.) as well as aquatic vegetation. Its reproduction period is from late winter to mid spring. It lays its eggs in shallow water, on aquatic plants. The eggs hatch after about five days. The species is short-lived (maximum age: 3 years) and small-sized (maximum length: 12 cm).

In general, its populations can be considered secure, although in several cases they can be threatened by habitat degradation and fragmentation, wasteful irrigation, pollution, eutrophication, etc.

The species is listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). It is also referred in the Red Data Book of the Endangered Animals of Greece (Legakis & Maragou 2009) as well as in the IUCN Red List, as a Least Concern (LC) species.

photograph: ©Andrea Bonetti / Piraeus Bank

Other important species of fauna

Other important bird species, which can be observed quite regularly in the migration or in the wintering period in the Natura site is the Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) and the Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus,) as well as some birds of prey that breed in the surrounding area [Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)], or visit the Lake during migration [eg. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)] and/ or wintering [Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)]. One more important fish species (Squalius moreoticus, Stymfalia Chub, probably endemic in the Peloponnese) also occurs in Lake Stymfalia. Regarding the mammal species we should note the presence of Otter (Lutra lutra). Finally, from the reptiles, important is the presence of two turtle species [Balkan Pond Turtle (Mauremys rivuleta), European Pond Turtle (Emys orbicularis)], as well as the Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo hermanni) and the Leopard Snake (Zamenis situlus).

photograph: © Thanasis Kottas / Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation