Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Streams of Mount Ochi Expedition 2017 (Part 2)


15-17 October, 2017

Of course I have talked a lot about Mount Ochi on Evia Island.

Every naturalist living in Athens should know of its natural wonders, its rich mountain wilds, traditional hamlets, rugged coasts - altogether an extravaganza for biodiversity research. Unlike the typical limestone mountains around Athens and the western Aegean, Mount Ochi is distinctive for its  geology and abundant waters. There are ten major and several minor streams radiating out of the fortress-like mountain. Each small stream is different, each has many kilometers of perennial stream flow. Streams flow even in the low-flow conditions of early Autumn. Surface water, lotic and lentic habitats such as these are extremely scarce in the Aegean islands. 

This is the final trail of an expedition we chose to complete 10 years after our first survey on the mountain (back in June 2007). We collected macrozoobenthic invertebrates, water samples, river conditions, vegetation and landscape assessment. 

First day. The four member team arrived early via the Rafina-Marmari ferry. First we worked the ravines of the north face of the mountain beginning at the wild Vathirema valley near Schizali and progressed back towards Karystos (Schizali, Komito, Antia, Potami, Platanistos). A fine day, wonderful and powerful landscapes: stark browns, tan greens in the Aegean light. Below us half of the Aegean sea. We scrambled over huge torrent rock ravines at Komito and walked among the rock-pool dominated Antia stream. We found a wonderful rock gorge in the lower part of Antia with Alder riparian scrub - the only other site we know with Alder here is on the Platanistos river. We found a single otter scat at Potami, Platanistos river (a first records, after many rumours). At dusk, we marvelled at the surreal wonder of the waterfall near Platanistos village.  

Second day we went to the springs of the Dimosaris in the mountain's heart. Huge oriental planes, branches pruned by the strong cold wind. We stopped near the springs of the upper part of the Porphyras (last few yellow-bellied toads before hybernation...). And then down the Porphyras valley (Rouklia, Agios Dimitrios, Schinodavlia beach). We ended up going way east to the Gialpides valley- and back in to the Dimosaris (Lenosei, Stefides). The village of Lenosei, now half abandoned was like stepping back in time: crumbling rock houses, curious horses, sheep dogs, many goats everywhere. The Stefides tributary was ripped up by a huge torrential flood two years ago and the riverbed and razed riparian zone have totally changed (as is the case futher downstream on the main stem of the Dimosaris). This taught us the formational power of floods in these streams. 

Third day was in the Lala river basin with stops at Lala river mouth, the adjacent Rigia river mouth and the spring of Lala. Lots of Otter scat at the Lala river mouth (how do they survive?). At the Lala spring river waters were low but the beauty of the place, unchanged. A last impression of a natural Mediterranean stream environment. 

Our research trip was supported by South Evia Tours and the accommodation was exceptional at the wonderful Aegea Hotel at Aetos. We thank Nikos Lagonikos and the Society for the Protection of the Environment of Notia Karystia (SPENK) for all support in our venture. Please read more about the society at : http://ochi.gr/




View up the Archampoli Valley to Kapsouri and Mount Kerasia.


Vathyrema near Schizali.


Komito river.

Komito river boulder climbing.

Antia river rock pools.

Antia river rock pools, coloured by Euplagia quadripunctaria - the Jersy Tiger, a protected moth species known in Greece as the "Rhodes Butterfly".

Antia river, drone-flight near village.

Antia river rock pools.

Antia river, downstream.

Antia river, downstream: Alnus glutinosa!

Potami river mouth.

Potami river mouth.

Potami river mouth.

Water fall at Platanistos.

Near Dimosaris spring. Judas peak rising above.

Near Dimosaris spring. 

Petrokanalo pools, near one of the highest perennial springs.


Rouklia.

Agios Dimitrios, Porfyras stream valley.

Agios Dimitrios, Porfyras stream valley.

Agios Dimitrios, Porfyras stream valley: Laurus nobilis.

Agios Dimitrios, Porfyras stream valley.

Agios Dimitrios Gorge.

Agios Dimitrios Gorge.

Schinodavlia and the Porphyras river mouth (HCMR Drone photo/ Elias Dimitriou).
Agios Dimitrios Gorge: Skinodavlia beach.
Flying the drone.

Porphyras river near river mouth.

Dimosaris Gorge.
Gialpides stream pools.

Gialpides stream.

Gialpides Ravine.

Dimosaris at Lenosei village.

Dimosaris at Lenosei village.

Lenosei village.
Lenosei village.

Lala stream river mouth.


Lala stream river mouth.

Rigia.

Rigia.

Rigia.
Lala stream near its springs.

Lala stream near its springs.

Tools of the trade.



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