A summary of the fauna in Granvousa and Balos

So far there have been 98 species of birds recorded but in reality they are many more. Forty of them make their nests in the nature reserve or surrounding areas (permanently or as summer visitors) and depend on it to find food. The rest can be observed during winter migration. 26 species are protected by European legislation and 14 are included in the Red List of Threatened Vertebrates of Greece.

The peninsula of Gramvousa is considered a very important habitat for migratory birds. It is also a very important foraging point for Cypaetus barbatus, which is a threatened species in Europe. These species make their nest here: the chukar partridge (Alectoris chukar), the rock pigeon (Columba livia), the barn owl (Tyto alba), the wood lark (Lullula arborea), the black-eared wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica), the stonechat (Saxicola torquatus), the blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius), the raven (Corvus corax) and the common linnet (Carduelis cannabina).

During the period of migration, it is possible to observe many different species. Among them are the little egret (Egretta garzetta), the Egyptian vulture (Neopheron percnopterus), the hen harrier (Circus cyaneus), the common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), the greater short-toed lark (Calandrella brachydactyla), the sand martin (Riparia riparia) and the red-throated pipit (Anthus cervinus).

As for reptiles, we can find the leopard snake (Εlaphe situla), which is protected by Greek and European legislation. One particularity of the region’s fauna is a herd of wild donkeys living on the peninsula (Balos). 

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) comes to give birth in the region’s underwater caves. The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), a strictly protected species, also comes here to seek for food even though it does not nest in this area. The molluscs living in the lagoon cannot be found anywhere else in Crete in this variety and quantity.