Fauna of Alonnisos

Fauna of Alonnisos

The fauna of Alonissos - mammals, birds and reptiles - belong to a silent and invisible world, which escapes our perception and senses. Only large birds, when they pass over, can be noticed by the careful observer.

It took years of in-depth observations, activated on the occasion of the establishment and management of the Alonissos and Northern Sporades Marine Park, to draw up the basic lists of animal species - this chapter is based on these works.

The general picture of the terrestrial fauna is what one would expect for the geographical and ecological profile of the island, while the marine fauna attests with its richness and rarity the correctness of the protection measures for the area.


Due to the small size, the geographical isolation and the centuries-old human presence on Alonissos, the mammals that live on the island are limited to small carnivores (martens, weasels), insectivores (hedgehogs, bats, shrews) and rodents. As in many other islands, Wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) thrives here.

Wild goats (Capra aegagrus), i.e. domestic goat, which has returned to a semi-wild state, roam freely on Peristera Island (and perhaps on other islands).

Alonissos topoguide: Fauna of Alonnisos

Fauna of Alonnisos
Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus)
Photo: Vasilis Drosakis
Click to enlarge
The marine mammal fauna is more interesting. The Alonnisos Marine Park hosts a significant population of Mediterranean seal (Monachus monachus), an endangered species that maintains small and isolated populations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The area is also home to a remarkable variety and populations of dolphins, with the Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), the Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and the Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) being the most abundant.


The avifauna of Alonissos is quite rich and interesting. The species that have been observed here show three different patterns of presence: first, the resident or migratory birds that stay on the island, second the birds of the coastal wetlands and the sea, which also stay for some time on or near the land, and last, the birds that pass through migration and are occasionally observed.

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Birds of Alonissos: Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)

The raptors are represented with a few resident species, such as the Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), the Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and the Common buzard (Buteo buteo). In late Spring arrive the birds of pray that stay on the island, like Short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus) and Eleonora's falcon (Falco eleonorae), which nests in the Aegean islets. Finally, there are reports of the Red-footed falcon (Falco vespertinus), which is observed during its migration to Northern Europe, but also of the Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni), which comes to Central Greece in the summer. There have also been observations of the Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and the Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), which probably spend some time on the island, hunting in the clearings of the forest and the scrubland. Nocturnal birds of pray are represented by the Little owl (Athene noctua) and the Scops owl (Otus scops).

Alonissos topoguide
Birds of Alonissos: Little owl (Athene noctua)
Seabirds find in the Alonissos region a true heaven: the vast Aegean Sea is interrupted by dozens of islets, where no man ever sets foot, and the endless rocky shores alternate with quiet beaches, where small seasonal marshes are hidden.

Among the seabirds that one could see in these areas most noteworthy are the Scopoli's shearwate (Calonectris diomedea), the Storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), the Audouin's gull (Larus audouinii), the Little gull (Larus minutus) and the Yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan).
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Birds of Alonissos: Audouin's gull (Larus audouinii)
On the rocky coasts we see all year round species such as the Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) and the Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis), while in Spring and early Summer in the coastal wetlands we will spot species such as the Little egret (Egretta garzetta), the Purple heron (Ardea purpurea), the Common redshank (Tringa totanus), the wagtails (such as the White wagtail, the Grey wagtail and the Yellow wagtail), but also the impressive Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), which stops here during its migration trip.

Finally, some rare visitors have been reported, such as the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and the Great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus).
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Birds of Alonissos: Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
At the edges of the forest with the shrubland and the innumerable clearings left behind by the fallen pines, the wildfires and the abandoned fields, we will see Pipits (such as Tawny pipit, Meadow pipit and Tree pipit), Quail (Coturnix coturnix), Tree warblers (among which the unusual Olive-tree warbler, Hippolais olivetorum and the Olivaceous Warbler, Hippolais pallida).
In the vast shrubland, the observer will guess the presence of the tiny Warblers, hiding themselves behind the branches, with the most notable being the Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), the Rüppell's warbler (Sylvia rueppelli), the Garden warbler (Sylvia borin), the Western subalpine warbler (Sylvia cantillans), the Common chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) and the Willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus).
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Birds of Alonissos: Common chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
In the spring as well as the autumn migration we will see dozens of Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), a few Rollers (Coracias garrulus), some Golden orioles (Oriolus oriolus) and several Hoopoes (Upupa epops).

In Chora we will see the Common swifts (Apus apus) and the Alpine swift (Tachymarptis melba), together with the swallows (Common house martins, Red-rumped swallow and common Barn Swallows), speeding through the air.
Alonissos topoguide
Birds of Alonissos: Red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio)
In the phrygana we will see the motionless silhouettes of Shrikes (such as the Red-backed shrike, Lanius collurio and the Woodchat shrike, Lanius senator) and Flycatchers (mainly Spotted flycatcher, Muscicapa striata) waiting for the moment when a large beetle will cross their field of vision. In the rocky areas of Gerakas and Euzonas, the Wheatears (the Western black-eared wheatear, Oenanthe hispanica, but also the more abundant Northern wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe) and the restless Black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) flit frantically around their invisible territory.


Reptiles find in Alonissos ideal climatic conditions, but also their favorite variety of shady and bright environments, where they can choose the best conditions and temperatures, depending on the time of day.

The geographical isolation of the island, however, has a limiting effect on the number of species and thus the reptile fauna of the area consists of 14 species - six lezards, two turtles and six snakes.

Lizards are represented in Alonissos by the Erhard's wall lizard (Podarcis erhardii), the European copper skink (Ablepharus kitaibelii), the Balkan green lizard (Lacerta trilineata), the Kotschy's gecko (Mediodactylus kotschyi, in the Sporades the fuchsi subspecies has been identified) and the Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus).

Alonissos topoguide
Reptiles of Alonissos: Τρανόσαυρα (Lacerta trilineata)
Among the turtles, the presence of the Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is important, while on land we will easily find the Marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata).
Alonissos topoguide
Reptiles of Alonissos: European cat snake (Telescopus fallax)
Six species of snakes have been recorded on the island, the most impressive of which are the Horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes), the Montpellier snake (Malpolon insignitus) and the Four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata), while we will also meet the European ratsnake (Zamenis situla), the Caspian whipsnake (Dolichophis caspius) and the European cat snake (Telescopus fallax).

Text: T. Adamakopoulos. Photos: A. Bonetti

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topoguide Greece
A detailed discution on the fauna of Alonnisos, as well as photos and descriptions of several animal species, is included in the digital field guide Alonnisos topoguide.

Digital field guide Alonnisos topoguide is available for Android devices as an in-app purchase within the application topoguide Greece. Alonnisos topoguide is a member of the Greek Islands group.

Digital field guide Alonnisos topoguide is also available for iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices as an in-app purchase within the application Topoguide Greece. There also, Alonnisos topoguide is a member of the Greek Islands group.