Sani Forest

Sani Forest

Robin, Erithacus rubecula

What it looks like

The robin is characterised by its orange color around the neck, which is in contrast with its brown back and whitish belly. It is a small bird (ca. 13 cm) and has a short and thin beak. It feeds mainly on insects and worms. It has a melodic voice and a characteristic short call.

Where and when to spot it

During the spring and summer, it lives in the forest. We often only recognise its presence by its call, as it hides in bushes. During the autumn and winter, it can be spotted in gardens and parks in the city. It is widespread in Greece and Europe.

Blue Tit, Cyanistes caeruleus

What it looks like

The blue tit is a small bird ( at 12-13 cm) with bright yellow and blue colors at wings, head and tail. The head is small, rounded, and compressed into the shoulders. It has a blue skull cap on its white head with a black eye stripe. Its under parts are yellow, with narrow greyish black central stripe on the belly. It breeds in woodlands, where it often hangs upside-down on nut holders and the tips of twigs. It feeds on small insects, spiders, caterpillars and nuts. It nests in tree holes and often in nestboxes.

Where and when to spot it

During the summer it is found in forests. During the winter it can be observed in parks and gardens in towns and villages. It is widespread and common in Greece and Europe. Its population in Greece is resident (during short local and seasonal migrating movements only).

Great Τit, Parus major

What it looks like

The great tit is a small bird (ca. 14 cm) with a short beak. It has a characteristic yellow underside with a long dark stripe on the chest, as if it were wearing a tie. This black stripe is usually wider on the male than the female. It has a black head with white cheeks, a back of a grey-green colour and a white stripe on the wing. It feeds on small invertebrates, such as grasshoppers, earwigs, flies, ants and beetles), as well as spiders, caterpillars and snails. It has many different calls which may initially confuse us when trying to recognise it, but its song is a characteristic "tit-tit-tit" - from which it also takes its name.

Where and when to spot it

It is a very common bird which can be observed all year round in forests, parks, gardens and fields. It often sits in bushes and trees. It is widespread in Greece and Europe.

Little Owl, Athene noctua

What it looks like

The little owl is a relatively small bird (23-27 cm) with a large broadly rounded head and short tail. It was known in ancient Greece and was considered as the bird of wisdom. It is white-speckled brown above, and brown-streaked white below. Its eyes are yellow, and it has a white eyebrow and a short bill. It feeds on insects, amphibians, birds and small rodents, and it nests in the holes of trees or in buildings.

Where and when to spot it

It is a nocturnal bird found in villages, castles, archaeological sites, and in open agricultural land and forest sites with cliffs, trees, and hedgerows. It sits motionless on roofs of old houses, wires and ruins. The little owl often takes up a squat posture when alarmed, bobbing in excitement. It is widespread in Greece and Europe and a resident in Greece.

The flora of this unique coastal ecosystem

Pine forests cover a significant area in Chalkidiki, especially in the lowlands. Though Pinus halepensis (Aleppo pine) dominates the tree layer in the pine forests of the Sani region, it is accompanied by more than 20 other woody species in the shrub layer. The most abundant of these species are Pistacia lentiscus (lentisk), a close relative of pistachio and mastic-tree, and Quercus coccifera (kermes oak), one of the two evergreen oaks found in Greece.

Pine forests are an important element of the Mediterranean landscape and provide a wide range of ecosystem services. Historically, pine wood was used in boat construction. Non-timber products from these woodlands include pine seeds that are used for pastry (particularly in Tunisia), resin that is extracted from Aleppo pine and used for wine production (retsina) and pine bark that was used for tannin production. Moreover, pine honey is produced by bees that feed on honeydew released by the sap-sucking insect Marchalina hellenica that infests Aleppo pine!

Pine woodlands also provide a series of regulating services. Erosion control, hydrological regulation and, most importantly, dune stabilization are of major importance at Sani Resort. Pine forests play a key role in the carbon cycle too, with pine stands representing a large fraction of carbon stocks in the Mediterranean region, which contribute to climate change mitigation. More on the role of the Aleppo pine forest to the carbon footprint of Sani Resort can be found here (Link to ECOCARBON).

These aesthetically pleasing forests, that often reach the shoreline in the Mediterranean basin, are also enjoyed for multiple recreation activities. They support biodiversity, host a large number of rare or endemic species and form iconic landscapes, just like the one we enjoy at Sani Resort.

Forest dormouse, Dryomys nitedula

What it looks like

The forest dormouse is recognised by its black face mask and greyish bushy tail. The body is light brown at the back with a whitish belly. Its size is similar to that of a house mouse (30-40 gr weight, 8-10 cm body size plus 6-9 cm tail length). Because of its tail and movement on trees, people often think that the forest dormouse is a small squirrel. While dormice and squirrels are both rodents, they in fact belong to different families. Unlike squirrels, dormice are active at night and hibernate during winter months.

Where and when to spot it

The forest dormouse is active from March to November, as it hibernates the rest of the year to survive the cold winter period. Like all dormice species, it is active during the night and moves primarily through the trees. Your best chance of spotting one is at dusk or dawn, as it scrurries through thick bushes in search of its food, which consists of berries, nuts, flower buds and insects. It is widespread in mainland Greece, occurring in a variety of forest habitats, including oak forests, pine forests and maquis shrublands. In Europe, the species can be found in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and parts of Italy.

Monitoring insect diversity

Insects can be found in each and every habitat on our planet, whether diving in our oceans or flying over hilltops, mountains and trees, insects comprise the most abundant group of animals on Earth. To reach that level, insects have gone through a long, winding and not always easy path of evolution that started millions of years ago. Along this road, insects have survived from mass extinction events, that nearly removed all life from our planet. However, insects are now facing threats more fatal than meteor crashes, and super volcano eruptions, which challenge their capacity to adapt and survive over time.

A closer look to these tiny creatures

Land use change, reckless insecticide use and climate change constitute challenges that insects have never faced before. To understand, identify, protect and conserve insects, monitoring projects collect field data from various sites on Earth. A network of traps is established within the Sani Environmental Observatory at the Aleppo pine forest of Sani Resort, so as to observe the insect communities inhabiting this unique landscape, and at the same time, suggest measures to protect them for future generations