Chios: Unique destination for Dragonflies
by Mike Taylor
In Chios already identified 29 species of dragonfly and speculated that live several more. Among those some very rare and interesting for observers, which according to experts can transform the area of the reservoir to the point of Armolia ecotourist interest for purists of the genre. Principal Dragonfly locations on Chios.
1. Armolia Reservoir
The agricultural reservoir located on the northern fringe of the village is the most species rich site discovered on Chios with 17 species found there so far. Virtually all of them are believed to be breeding on the site. Many are also found in large numbers, the tracks around the reservoir affording ideal conditions for close observation and photography, as well as close elevated views over the reservoir surface. This site has been designated as a dragonfly sanctuary. It is also a great attraction for migrating birds.
2. Marmaro Marsh
The marsh located on the south eastern edge of the coastal village of Marmaro is the most extensive freshwater wetland remaining on Chios. Prior to the drainage of Kontari marsh and the building of the airport to the south of Chios Town, the Kontari site was probably as important as Marmaro Marsh is today. Marmaro marsh has been declared an area fully protected from development by a recent presidential decree. The site which is generally flooded after winter rains, with the ground acting like a giant sponge, has been sporadically cultivated over the centuries, resulting in several drainage channels and ditches which act as havens for wildlife including a rich dragonfly, damselfly and water beetle fauna. Viewing is easy from the cross marsh roads and footpaths. See Fig B. The general naturalist is sure to find plenty of interest in the marsh, bird migration can result in large varied flocks of waders in the drainage ditches flowing alongside the cross marsh roads, terrapins, tree frogs and snakes are also features of the marsh. The marsh also holds a number of rare Lepidoptera.
3. River Malagkiotis
The River Malagkiotis is the longest river on Chios, 15 Km in length. It starts high up on Mnt. Pelinaeon to the northeast of Fyta on the western slope of the mountain fed by melt water, springs and seasonal rains. In early spring the upper reaches flowing in narrow v-shaped valleys form mountain torrents with numerous deep holding pools, many of which persist for most of the summer. This upper region of the torrent crosses the road between Fyta and Spartounta, about 1km from its source. This upper section of about 3Km in length has been well surveyed for dragonflies. See Fig C. I have never visited the central 9Km section of the river in search of dragonflies, nor has it been visited for such purposes by anyone else to the best of my knowledge and belief. The river finally discharges into the sea at Managros beach near Limnia, south of Volissos. The final 3Km section is much wider and in early spring is often too deep and swift flowing to enable easy crossing. During late spring and summer flow rates reduce considerably, however even by the end of September the final few hundred metres just behind the beach still has flowing fresh water in the terminal reed beds.
4. Kampia Gorge and River
The Kampia river is about 5Km in length, commencing in the upper reaches of the Kampia valley to the west of Kampia village. It descends rapidly in a northerly direction through the spectacular Kampia gorge, finally discharging into a permanent terminal freshwater lagoon at the back of Kampia beach. The river has formed a series of rapids and deep plunge pools, some of the latter retaining water throughout the year. Access is very easy as the path alongside the river is a great tourist attraction, made easy by several stout wooden bridges to allow dry crossing of seasonal torrents. See Fig D.
5. Lagkada Marsh
Lagkada marsh is a small but different type of marsh to Marmaro marsh, it is rather short in length and very compact. The river itself is only 1Km in length, being fed by a strong natural spring. There is only a small gradient during its journey to its discharge in the sea, it is of medium width and flows more or less at a constant rate throughout the spring and summer.
6. Agia Markella
There is a large reed bed fringed fresh water lagoon behind the beach at Ag Markella at the termination of a south flowing sporadically flowing seasonal river which drains the hills to the north of Ag Markella beach.
7. Keramia Pool
Situated 9Km south of Chios Town on the east coast of the island, the large pool is within the area once used for producing large quantities of building bricks and roofing tiles, abandoned about seventy years ago. The pool which is fed by underground springs was originally developed to supply water to be combined with the extensive clay deposits on the site in brick manufacture. The dangerous state of the dilapidated factory buildings have required the area to be fenced off. There are also several brackish spring fed pools along the shore line at the southern end of the beach. This site has important populations of breeding water beetles as well as important species of Odonata. Note, access is strictly only by prior arrangement with the site agents.
8. Kato Fana
Kato Fana bay in the centre of the south coast of the island is one of the most bio-diverse sites in Chios. It is undeveloped and has a large gently sloping sandy beach very safe for bathing. At the back of the beach is a semi-saline lagoon, fed by a seasonal river. The relatively deep lagoon contains water throughout the year. Adjacent to the back of the lagoon are several more or less permanent semi-saline pools within a small salt marsh area, bounded on the eastern side by a semi-saline drainage ditch. See Fig G. The access road to Kato Fana from Pyrgi has a number of springs feeding drinking troughs for domestic animals, which then overflow to feed a few semi-permanent reed fringed ditches.
9. Lithi Saltmarsh
There is an extensive saltmarsh behind the beach at Lithi in the centre of the west coast of Chios. Sporadic agriculture, mainly hay cropping, has been carried out for centuries. Attempts have been made to drain the area from time to time, with varying degrees of success, however the resulting water filled drainage ditches hold breeding populations of a number of dragonfly species.
10. Komi Lagoon
A seasonal river terminates in a semi-saline lagoon behind the beach at Komi. Permanent water remains in the lagoon all year and also within the reed fringed water course for about one hundred metres or so inland.
11. Elinta Beach
In the centre of the west coast, just north of Lithi, there is a sheltered bay at Elinta. A seasonal stream discharges into a reed bed at the back of the beach. As this stream is fed from a large mountain contained valley to the north, and the soil substrate is impervious heavy clay, there is a fresh water spring line along more or less the whole length of the beach. The reed bed is permanently standing in fresh water even at the end of summer.
12. Mountain torrents in North East Chios
There are several melt water and spring fed seasonal torrents fed from the upper reaches of Mnt. Pelinaeon. These have provided permanent domestic water supplies from springs and plunge pools resulting in the establishment of settlements in ancient times, at Nagos, Giosonas, Amahdes, Viki and Spartounta No dragonfly survey work has been undertaken by the author on these torrents, we are not aware of any records by other workers.
13. Mountain torrents in North West Chios
Comments as for Para 12, above. Northwest villages include, Halandra, Nea Potamia, Afrodisia, Keramos, Agiasmata, Kourounia, Nenitoria, Ag Gala, Parpara and Pirama. No dragonfly survey work has been undertaken by the author on these torrents, we are not aware of any records by other workers.
14. Small seasonal and permanent water bodies
There are many other small water bodies of interest to dragonfly researchers. These are often found besides newly constructed roads when adjacent spring water is contained by the newly compacted road surfaces. In addition there are numbers of natural spring fed pools used as water sources by shepherds.
15. Ornamental ponds and cisternas
There are large numbers of ornamental garden ponds and cisternas, particularly in the fertile plain of Kampos situated to the south of Chios Town. These were originally established in the15th Century by rich Venetian and Genoese merchants, and many are retained to the present time. A typical example is at Perlais Mansion, whose cisterna contains ornamental plants and several species of breeding dragonflies.