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Science
BEHIND THE TAVERNA
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Brett Westwood hits the wildlife trail, starting on the Island of Corfu
Sundays 2-30 March 2003 2.45-3.00pm

Corfu in the middle of August is a place where you expect to find plenty of wildlife, in the resorts at least. But Brett Westwood starts his tour by leaving the beach bars behind and, with the help of two local naturalists, he discovers a wealth of wildlife just a few miles Behind the Taverna.

Behind the Taverna


Having dragged himself away from the bazuki’s in the first taverna of his trip, Brett hits the wildlife trail on the Greek Island of Corfu. Gerald Durrell first put Corfu on the map in 1956 with his book My Family and Other Animals. Since then it has grown to become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, with over a million visitors every year – from students enjoying the cheap and cheerful resorts of Kavos and Benitses to the relative calm of Corfu Town.

But Jean-Pierre Wuetschert and Hilary Paipeti know a very different Corfu. Jean-Pierre is something of a novelty on the island since he is one of a select few who will get within a mile of a snake. In fact, he likes them so much he used to keep them in his bath and has bred reptiles for most of his life. Most, he explains are harmless. Hilary Paipeti is a botanical expert and walking leader with a wide knowledge of the island. With their help Brett goes to one of Durrell’s old haunts – Lake Scotini – where he is lucky enough to experience the rare sight of a grass-snake hunting frogs right in front of his eyes. Hilary also points out the chaste tree – whose berries are said to have the effect of a cold shower. Later he travels to a natural spring just outside the resort of Sidari, in search of ‘Old Jack’, an old friend of Jean-Pierre’s who after a long search and a dip in the stream for Jean-Pierre, reveals himself to be a pond terrapin.

Listen again  Listen again to Programme 1
Brett in Benidorm
Brett Westwood with guide Brian Fagg in Benidorm

But Corfu is only the first holiday spot on Brett’s hit-list, next stop is Benidorm where he is amazed to find rare Bonelli’s eagles just a few miles from the tower blocks.

Listen again  Listen again to Programme 2
Brett with a chameleon
Brett with a chameleon in Portugal

In the third programme he finds himself in Portugal, looking for a rather different kind of birdie than his fellow Brits in the many golfing resorts along the Algarve. Rare purple gallinules – purple water birds the size of chickens – and even a chameleon are in store here for the intrepid package holiday explorer.

Listen again  Listen again to Programme 3
Brett in Mallorca
Brett Westwood in Mallorca with Eva Sanchez from the
Black Vulture Conservation Foundation.

From the Algarve it’s onto Mallorca for an encounter with the biggest bird of prey in Europe, the black vulture which, thanks to a massive conservation effort can once again be seen soaring over the mountains and resorts of northern Mallorca.

Listen again  Listen again to Programme 4 
Tenerife
Tenerife

In the final programme in the series Brett goes to the island of Tenerife in search of blue chaffinches on the island’s volcano, Mount Teide. After learning why most of the island’s wildlife is found nowhere else – including some terrifying-sounding giant grasshoppers, he heads off to find some pigeons! But as local zoologists, Pedro and Manuel explain, these are no ordinary pigeons.

Listen again  Listen again to Programme 5 
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