Captain Corelli's Mandolin
What, might you ask, has Louis de Bernier's novel got to do with a blog on wildlife?
Well last week I had a holiday. A true holiday because I forgot to take my iPhone with me, so had a blissful week with no emails, no texts, and no phone calls. And the world did not end, and the WLT office ran very smoothly indeed. I did not read Louis de Bernier's novel, which I read several years ago, but I did go to Kefalonia, where the novel was set. In the novel, a Pine Marten plays a role, which is interesting, because Pine Martens do not occur on the island. It is another species, the Stone Marten that occurs there.
I was fortunate enough to see three Stone Martins while in Kefalonia (one a roadkill unfortunately). But Stone Martens are generally more likely than the Pine Martens to be found around human habitations - and indeed the first one I encountered was right in the middle of Fiskardo, a popular seaside resort. It was good to know that they were flourishing, though my other experiences with wildlife in Greece have been less encouraging.
I first went to Greece in 1963 and my recollection of that visit was that at night there were clouds of insects around the relatively few street lights, and often a toad, sitting at the base, gulping the insects down. I also remember geckos being commonplace around the coastal villages. But over the intervening years I have seen both the insects and the geckos become increasingly rare, to the point of total absence in many places. This has happened all over southern Europe. Fortunately there are still huge areas of wilderness in Greece, even on islands like Kefalonia, but I do wonder to what extent the light pollution of Europe has wiped out insects over places far from towns and villages.