Pelonnese solo quickie

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krismunk
Posts: 389
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:17 am
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by krismunk »

…I know, sounds kind of sleazy, but really, it wasn’t - trust me :)

Anyway, I had a few days of paid vacation left to spend before May 1st or forfeit so naturally I did a quick search for cheap airfare to some herpable destination.

Flights to and from Athens, April 19th and 23rd gave me 3½ days in the Peloponnese, often referred to as the #1 herping hotspot in Europe. Flight booked at short notice and awfully busy at my new job I had little time for proper research, so relied heavily on tips from friends. In this respect I owe great thanks to Bobby Bok without whose help I would not have been nearly as successful.

Furthermore, to not stress excessively over planning, limit my driving time (there would be plenty anyway) and put my mind more at ease while there I chose to focus on snakes and endemic lizards, rather than default to everything. Given these limitations, I think I did alright.

I landed 12.30, picked up my rental and headed west. With considerable delay due mostly to a long detour over narrow winding mountain roads in often poor condition and full of goats caused by my missing an exit because I trusted my GPS to alert me, not noticing it had become disconnected and powered off, I finally arrived at my first stop a little before five in the afternoon. (Note to self: Keep sentences short, dummy!)

Near an all but dried up lake set amidst the mountains of the northern Peloponnese I found a nice looking meadow. The very first rock I turned revealed a large adult of one of my two main targets.

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…And no, it’s not the Scolopendra cingulata (which were absolutely everywhere!). The lowly Xerotyphlops vermicularis, Eurasian blind snake, might seem an odd target species but never having seen any scolecophidian their simple oddity held a particular mysterious allure to me.

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The meadow did not produce much more so I moved to the edge of the lake where a boulder strewn slope bordered on the drying marshes. At the foot of the slope Greek marsh frogs, Pelophylax kurtmuelleri, of all sizes, patterns and nuances of green and brown fled by the dozens if not hundreds at my every stop. The ground was absolutely moving with frogs.

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With this amount of prey, of course there had to predators as well, and not only the plentiful herons. Flipping the rocks at the at the edge of the marsh I soon uncovered large numbers of dice snakes, Natrix tessellata. Nearly every decent looking rock held at least one, some two or three, one six. Usually regarded as mainly piscivorous, my guess is this particular popular population will snack on les grenouilles as well.

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Typically more of a frog eater, of course their cousins, the grass snakes, Natrix natrix, had to be around as well. I flipped two, the first an odd looking snake of the less common dark morph (I hate calling anything with that many brightly coloured scales melanistic), the second - unsurprisingly sharing a rock with a couple of tessellata - a striped specimen more typical of the resident subspecies persa.

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Whereas the snakes were found under rocks at the foot of the slope, the lizards were on and among the rocks higher up the slope. First was a couple of a second target species, the endemic Peloponnese wall lizard, Podarcis peloponnesiacus. I only got a shot of the male, but not to worry, they would prove abundant across the peninsula and I since found them at nearly every stop.

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Next up was an impressive scheltopusik, Pseudopus apodus, that slipped away through the rocks and brambles. Nearby, I uncovered a second blind snake under yet another rock.

Finally, back at the car, as I was getting ready to move on to a nearby southwest facing slope as the setting sun disappeared from this southeasterly one I heard a rustle in the bushes and found my first Balkan green lizard, Lacerta trilineata, of the trip.

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At the next stop I had barely stepped out of the car before eyeing a second scheltopusik. This one never even seemed to notice me before I rudely interrupted its peaceful basking and dragged it out for a short photo session. Upon capture it went through the usual limp / dead routine.

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Moving on, a third peloponnesiacus on the trail through the woods, then near a ruin a couple of snake eyed skinks, Ablebharus kitaibelii, the first under a rock, the second moving through the grass.

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Back down on the moist plain of the so called lake, at another group of ruins I found an old well. Peering inside I saw - of course - a bunch of marsh frogs, as well as some small fish in the water. Looking closer to see if maybe a snake had gone in after the frogs, I found a hatchling European pond turtle, Emys orbicularis, at the edge of the water. I leaned in to rescue as many critters as possible, but the frogs were too stupid to realize what was good for them. The turtle, otoh, was smarter.

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I didn't see anything else at the time but now it seems to me there might be another critter in the pond pic above, a newt between the rocks to the left of the turtle? Maybe I'm just imagining it...

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The sun was now all but gone below the horizon and I headed back towards the car walking along a slope that caught the last feeble rays. Nothing seemed to still be out and moving when suddenly my eyes fixed on a surprising gestalt.

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I saw the stripes first and thought for a moment four lined snake, but the colours were off, what was this? Absolutely thrilled, I realized I had already found my main target for the entire trip, a leopard snake, Zamenis situla. A largish adult somewhat in need of a shed (and biting vigorously) this specimen certainly could have been prettier but that did not really dampen my joy.

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Happy after a great start, I spent the night the lone guest of a nice hotel in a charming little mountain village. As I enjoyed a hearty meal and a glass of wine on the balcony overlooking the valley, the stress of work already seemed a million miles away.

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Next morning I headed to the south side of the lake. Arriving early nothing was out yet, so I took my time to scan the surroundings and just enjoy the serenity. While doing so I found a second well, this one completely dried up. The stench of rotting fish and frogs was less than pleasant but there were still live critters to save so in I went and brought out a good dozen small marsh frogs and another three hatchling pond turtles.

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As the sun was creeping up from behind the mountains I walked to the slope it hit first, saw a couple of rocks to flip on the way. The first revealed yet another target, the Peloponnese slow worm, Anguis cephallonica.

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More pleasing still was the sight I was met with turning the other. Colours looking very different depending on the light the mint green and red of the first pic really does convey reasonably the first impression of uncovering this little gem of a juvenile leopard snake.

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On the sunny slope the lizards were already out, several Peloponnese wall lizards scurrying about on the rocks among even more beautiful Balkan wall lizards, Podarcis tauricus.

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A rock at the foot of the slope revealed another dice snake, and soon something a little larger was heard moving slowly about in the grass - a Hermann’s tortoise, Testudo hermanni. I found more of these, young as well as old, over the course of the morning.

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When I had thoroughly surveyed the hillside the sun had spread to the valley floor and I moved onwards, checking the edges, shrubs, bushes, rocks,…

In a pile of branches I soon noticed a very welcome surprise. In need of a shed and ugly as sin an impressively huge nose-horned viper, Vipera ammodytes, lay placidly basking.

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It wouldn’t show me its face, though, so I did a little round and came back, hoping it might have moved. It had, a little.

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Waiting for the viper to come out I surveyed the ruins of an old farm house, finding more wall lizards, a juvie tortoise, and a couple of Kotschy’s geckos, Mediodactylus kotschyi.

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After a couple of hours, as it was getting hotter I gave up on finding more and walked back to my car, viewing the first Balkan green lizard of the day along the way. The long drive to my next stop saw me passing lots of wall and green lizards and even a Hermann’s tortoise trodding along down the middle of the highway. I fear its life expectancy was not long.

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I had meticulously planned to do my driving in the warmest hours of the day with the least ophidian activity. It was still quite hot when I made to my next destination but thankfully this was just the spot for these conditions. In the wooded hills of the southwestern Peloponnese a stream of alternating waterfalls and turquoise pools had cut a gorge through the limestone, just right for a refreshing dip and some very casual herping. Asides from the plentiful crabs, naked man orchids, a few marsh frogs, and the omnipresent Balkan green and Peloponnese wall lizards, these surroundings had a healthy population of another of my target species, the Greek rock lizard, Hellenolacerta graeca.

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In a small pool cut of the from the stream itself I managed to find yet another species I had hoped for at the location, the Greek stream frog, Rana graeca.

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After my swim I drove onwards. Somewhat stupidly I ended up spending most of the rest of the afternonn driving around looking for ideal habitat rather than just stopping and actually herping in very good habitat. Oh well…

Luckily, all the driving wasn’t for naught, though. The lizards were of course still out on the roads but better still, as I turned a corner I saw this.

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A magnificent large adult four-lined snake, Elaphe quatuorlineata, lay stretched out in the middle of the road. I really should have taken care to get a better picture of it before I moved it off the road and into safety because well heated, once grabbed, it seemed nothing would calm it down again. Eventually I acknowledged my defeat and let it go, leaving me with only the crappiest of shots.

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Just a couple of hundred meters further on an old mattress lay cast by the roadside. Of course I stopped, flipped it, and found a table top, a juvenile Balkan whip snake, Hierophis gemonensis, and four large common toads, Bufo bufo, underneath. Clumsily I allowed the snake to get away unphotographed.

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I made a couple of other short stops, with little success, then headed into town for dinner awaiting darkness (word to the wise, unless you’re very fond of cats don’t order fish when sitting outdoors by the seaside in a small Greek harbour town).

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After dinner, I drove to the beach for my final stop of the day. Greek marsh frogs and European tree frogs, Hyla arborea, were loud and plentiful, calling from the canals by the side of the road. I took a couple of pictures but offered them little attention, shining my lights at the tree tops instead, hoping for a glimpse of a critter found nowhere else in Europe, the African chameleon, Chamaeleo africanus. I got lucky, found three juveniles, all too far away for decent nighttime pics with my pos p&s.

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Next morning, break of dawn, after a nice breakfast, I was back at it. Just a couple of km from my hotel lay an old olive grove of near mythical status, if not the land of milk honey then certainly the land of snakes and snakes. As I drove by the area, I could see from afar it would be at least another hour before the sun rose clear of the hilltops behind so I went to a nearby plateau. Unsuccessful, seeing only a few green and wall lizards the highlight was a golden jackal out on its morning stroll. Oblivious to my presence as it approached of course it finally noticed me 0.1 second before I was ready to push the trigger…

Driving back down to the olive grove I passed by the mattress once again, flipped it to see if the whip snake had returned. It hadn’t but the toads had instead been joined by a marsh frog, quite odd given that there was no body of water within sight.

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At the magic grove I was met with a most disheartening sight. The legendary spot was clearly no more as the demands of modern productivity had left their mark. Half the field now looked like this, the other half little better.

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Nonetheless, now that I was there, I decided to at least give it a try. Walking through the better half and make my way through the thorny shrubs up into the hills behind I managed to find a couple of green and wall lizards, quite a few Kotschy’s geckoes camouflaged on the trunks of old olive trees and a single large and gnarly old marginated tortoise, Testudo marginata, wonderful beast that made the stop worthwhile after all.

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Leaving the area I headed to the Mani peninsula driving first to a monastery some way up into the Taygetos mountains. Views were great but herps less plentiful than I had hoped for.

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As pretty much everywhere I found a few green and wall lizards but the Greek rock lizards were more numerous.

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Sitting on a wall a large rock lizard was scared off by a much smaller lizard, slowly approaching. Different looking, up close I confirmed this was indeed a Greed algyroides, Algyroides moreoticus, yet another target species.

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My second target for the monastery was the Greek limbless skink, Ophiomorus punctatissimus. I flipped a ton of rocks for these, finding only scorpions (one I disturbed feeding on a large Scolopendra) until when I finally found a skink I somehow allowed it to slip through my fingers and disappear into the leaf litter.

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In a concrete trough, next to the rotting remains of a goat, I found a second Peloponnese slow worm. With messed up camera settings the colours are really weird in this pic.

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I headed back down the mountain and south along the coast towards my hotel. Looking at the map it seemed only a short drive but it lasted hours, in part due to the roads, in part the other drivers. It seems all Greek drivers can be divided into two groups, immensely patient octogenarians exceedingly reluctant to drive faster than 30 km/h even on the few straight stretches and young males with a death wish who insist on overtaking anyone, anywhere, anytime, regardless of the conditions. I’m not entirely sure which group annoyed me more…

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At a moment going down the mountainside pleasantly free of such distractions, I suddenly noticed a snake, almost certainly an adult Balkan whip snake, sliding off the road. I hit the brakes, parked at the first reasonably safe spot and ran back up the road. Of course the snake was gone, and worse still, next to the road was an insurmountable fence it must have crossed under. On my side of the fence was a single rock, and while I was all but certain the snake hadn’t just gone under it, I flipped it anyway. Under the rock I caught a quick glimpse of a couple of tiny scales disappearing into the gravel and immediately dug in. Squirming in my hands lay a second Greek limbless skink.

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In the late afternoon I made a stop in an olive grove between the mountains and the sea. Passing along the old stone walls I found plenty of Scheltopusiks (as well as, of course, more green and wall lizards).

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Marginated tortoises were out and about as well, though I found a couple just as they were entering their shelters. Here on the western side of the Taygetos the sepecies is represented by the dwarf form weissingeri.

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A couple of snake eyed skinks also showed up and under rock a second scorpion species and a third limbless skink.

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As I was photographing the skink I heard a snake in the bushes next to me, turned out to be an eastern Montpellier snake, Malpolon insignitus. Fast and wary, Montpellier snakes have been a bit of a curse to me, as I have had the hardest time getting pics of any. I finally managed a couple of crappy docu shots of a western Montpellier snake last year in October and apparently that lifted the curse. This one was readily caught and, though alert and aggressive, not as flighty as I had anticipated.

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On my way back to the car as the sun was going down and I was photographing pretty flying things a small, dark snake (seemingly black, but there should be no black snakes in the region...) suddenly slipped away through the grass and into the brambles where I tore myself to bloody shreds trying to go after it. Sulking, I flipped some more rocks and soon found another Balkan whip snake, a large adult this time – finally got a photo.

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Headed back into town I passed a heartbreakingly beautiful freshly shed DOR nose-horned viper, decided to herp the olive grove and trash site next to the road the next morning.

In town I had nice goat dinner by the seaside, walking back to the hotel played hide and seek with a curious house marten in a parking lot. A pity I hadn’t brought my camera.

I got up early for a swim in the pool before heading back to the viper spot.

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Again, as I arrived nothing was out yet. After a while the lizards started to appear, green lizards and a couple of algyroides.

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No snakes, though, so I moved on. I tried my luck across the road from where I had herped the previous afternoon - not a bad decision. I found a bunch of tortoises and the usual lizards, green, wall, geckos, scheltopusiks, limbless skinks.

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Walking along a stone wall I spotted another nose-horned viper on the move. Every bit as pretty as the DOR much to my annoyance it got away from me, disappearing into a pile of branches and twigs. A couple of meters away I found its freshly cast slough.

I decided to herp on a little and then return, hoping the viper would be out again. Essentially just passing by the time as I was waiting I struck gold.

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Perhaps my favourite European snake species and the most beautiful accessory anywhere, a juvenile javelin sand boa, Eryx jaculus.

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After a few boa pics, the viper still was not out so I flipped some more rocks - jackpot again :)

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…and a blind snake.

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Worried that it was done basking for the morning I tripled back to the viper spot nonetheless. Predictably, the viper wasn’t out but that was okay because instead this fast and temperamental critter, a Dahl’s whip snake, Platyceps najadum, was moving along the wall in the same spot. Though absolutely beautiful it was also very hot and bothered and once again, I eventually gave up on getting decent shots.

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Next up, out of the corner of my eye I suddenly spotted the tail of a large snake disappearing over a olive branch some five feet above ground. My first thought, more instinct than anything else, was Malpolon. I ran after it but all I found was the crevice it had obviously slipped through into the hollow trunk of the old tree.

By now, activity was slowing down again and I was getting ready to move on. One final snake, a Balkan whip snake, disappeared into a crack in a wall.

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After the longest drive of the trip I arrived in the northeastern Peloponnese near the ancient theatre of Epidavros late in the afternoon. Next time, I really should make time for some of the sights as well…

I parked my car near a little farm house where two dogs, tied to each their stake, subsequently went absolutely nuts. Their friends behind the house soon joined in the cacophonous chorus.

Turning rocks en masse, most disappointingly I found nothing so eventually I moved to seemingly less interesting habitat on the other side of the road. First rock flipped yielded a very pretty ocellated skink, Chalcides ocellatus - that got away. Two rocks later came the first of many blind snakes. A couple of snake eyed skinks and Kotschy’s geckoes showed up as well.

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On the rocks a rather inconspicuous brown lacertid moved about. I never got close enough for a good look but I thought it looked a bit off for a female common wall lizard, Podarcis muralis, so I called it an Erhard’s. I have since learned that I was probably out of range of Erhard’s so I guess it was just a muralis after all.

Back at the car, dogs again / still going nuts an old toothless geezer came out from the house complaining to me in Greek about my upsetting his dogs. I didn’t understand a word but the intention was clear, would have been even had he not repeated himself 6 or 7 times. I wished him a good day and went on my way.

After a night well spent sitting outside, across the street from the docks, talking to the hotel owner, his daughter and son in law over dinner and his homemade liqueur (when they weren’t all inside chasing swallows out of the restaurant) I got up early the next morning to make time for one last short stop en route to the airport.

A little futher down the road from the dog / geezer spot I found some nice looking habitat and a place to park the car. The weather this morning was surprisingly cold and cloudy, clearly not to the liking of the resident lizards, so I resorted to flipping again. This produced my final blind snake of the trip, as well as three ocellated skinks, giving me a chance to redeem myself after my failure with the first one.

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All in all, 3½ days spent herping quite varied landscapes, 30 species including all of my main targets (though I would have liked to add a cat snake…), 73 snakes of 10 species, mammals, birds, inverts, flowers, nice food and wine,…

Sure, not all spots produced equally well, the southeast was a little disappointing, and overall I ended up spending too much time driving rather than herping, but still, it’s hard to complain about those results on such a short impromptu trip :-)



Species list:

Pelophylax kurtmuelleri - thousands
Rana graeca - 2
Bufo bufo - 4
Hyla arborea - 5 seen, more heard

Emys orbicularis - 4
Testudo hermanni - 6
Testudm marginata - 9

Xerotyphlops vermicularis - 18
Eryx jaculus - 2
Natrix natrix - 2
Natrix tessellata - 38
Hierophis gemonensis - 4
Platyceps najadum - 1
Elaphe quatuorlineata - 1
Zamenis situla - 2
Malpolon insignitus - 1
Vipera ammodytes - 2

Podarcis peloponnesiacus - many
Podarcis tauricus - many
Podarcis murails - 1
Lacerta trilineata - many
Hellenolacerta graeca - many
Algyroides moreoticus - 4
Ablepharus kitaibelii - 7
Ophiomorus punctatissimus - 5
Chalcides ocellatus - 4
Anguis cephallonica - 2
Pseudopus apodus - 13
Mediodactylus kotschyi - 14
Chamaeleo africanus - 3

Jimi
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by Jimi »

Nicely done, Kris! Thanks for the post.

Several things caught my eye:

- Danes also suffer the "use or lose" vacation time phenomenon at work, as we here in the US (makes it hard to stockpile for long long vacations!)

- Spring is a good time to get empty hotels in rural Greece

- Apparently, big scary centipedes are as good an indicator in the Mediterranean as they are in the western US, of optimal conditions to flip herps (centipedes are pretty desiccation-intolerant, so it does makes sense...)

- Your command of English idioms continues to impress me (e.g., "geezer", ha ha)

- Apparently, even in the Med region, nocturnal road-cruising for snakes is not done (???) - is that because 1) it does not ever produce, or 2) you were there in April and not, say, August when most snakes are nocturnal there, or 3) the mad young Greek drivers make it too unpleasant and dangerous? Obviously, diurnal road-cruising produces...it makes me wonder is all.

- Sand boas and chameleons. Cool. I need to get to the Peloponnese. Some friends went recently (right before, and then during, the currency slam last summer) and pretty much raved about it.

- Looks like your timing was perfect for max diversity - you got amphibs out the wazoo, flipping was excellent, you got plenty of snakes and tortoises out on the crawl, and the diurnal lizards were out in force. So, is late April/early May prime time for max diversity in the Med region? Seems to me the "normal" summer vacation season would be too hot and dry, and besides that, crowded and expensive - not good timing for a herper.

thanks for bearing with me...

cheers,
Jimi

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krismunk
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by krismunk »

Thanks for the kind words, Jimi :)
Jimi wrote:Danes also suffer the "use or lose" vacation time phenomenon at work, as we here in the US (makes it hard to stockpile for long long vacations!)
Yes, but we all have 5 weeks of vacation, most of us have 6 and sometimes you can be allowed to stockpile at least a little anyway :)
Jimi wrote:Spring is a good time to get empty hotels in rural Greece
Which doesn't hurt the prices either :)
Jimi wrote:Apparently, big scary centipedes are as good an indicator in the Mediterranean as they are in the western US, of optimal conditions to flip herps (centipedes are pretty desiccation-intolerant, so it does makes sense...)
Yep!
Jimi wrote:Your command of English idioms continues to impress me (e.g., "geezer", ha ha)
Thank you.
Jimi wrote:Apparently, even in the Med region, nocturnal road-cruising for snakes is not done (???) - is that because 1) it does not ever produce, or 2) you were there in April and not, say, August when most snakes are nocturnal there, or 3) the mad young Greek drivers make it too unpleasant and dangerous? Obviously, diurnal road-cruising produces...it makes me wonder is all.
Conventional wisdom is nocturnal road cruising isn't worthwhile in Europe, odd as that may seem. In the past I've tried very little myself, with no success. If I were to try again I wouldn't bother in April.

There was an extended discussion on the topic ac ouple of years ago on fieldherping.eu - see this thread: http://fieldherping.eu/Forum/viewtopic. ... g&start=10 (beginning at post #19)
Jimi wrote:Sand boas and chameleons. Cool. I need to get to the Peloponnese. Some friends went recently (right before, and then during, the currency slam last summer) and pretty much raved about it.

- Looks like your timing was perfect for max diversity - you got amphibs out the wazoo, flipping was excellent, you got plenty of snakes and tortoises out on the crawl, and the diurnal lizards were out in force. So, is late April/early May prime time for max diversity in the Med region? Seems to me the "normal" summer vacation season would be too hot and dry, and besides that, crowded and expensive - not good timing for a herper.
Yes, this is definitely the high season - and these are about as good results as you can reasonably hope for anywhere in Europe in such a time span. And yes, your remarks about summertime are spot on. If you look at the reports on fieldherping.eu you will find pelty of good Med results spanning from as early as the end of February until at least the end of May and again from September until as late as early November.

No doubt spring is better than autumn, though, and May (flipping already less productive, at least in the warmer parts of the Med) and March are less of a sure thing than April.
Jimi wrote:thanks for bearing with me...
Happy to :)


PS: I misid'ed the hatchling turtles. They're all European pond turtles, Emys orbicularis, fixed it in the report.

ChadHarrison
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by ChadHarrison »

WOW. That was one hell of a trip! Awesome finds. The Leopard Snake, Vipera, and Eryx were just fantastic to see.

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Ribbit
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by Ribbit »

Completely fantastic! I had no idea such diversity could be found anywhere in Europe. Your storytelling and photos make me feel like I was there, tagging along.

John

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chrish
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by chrish »

Although I always look forward to your posts, as soon as I saw it was a post from Greece, I immediately clicked it hoping for a story about finding on of my favorite snakes - a sandboa.
Boom, not only a couple of sandboa shots, but an in situ flipping shot. Coolest Eryx shot on the forum ever!

Thanks for sharing this.

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krismunk
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by krismunk »

Thanks for the replies to you guys as well.

It's always nice with a good response - particularly from people whose contributions I enjoy myself :)

...oh, and Chris, there are two in situ Eryx flipping pics ;)

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TravisK
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by TravisK »

Okay.... One more wold destination for my bucket list. :shock:

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todd battey
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by todd battey »

Wow! It looks like you found just about all the snakes of that area. Well done!

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travesty
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by travesty »

Great job! It's obvious you had a blast. I love those whipsnakes! It's strange to me how they look so much like whipsnakes in the U.S. Those leopard snakes are awesome too.

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chrish
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by chrish »

Actually, I got all distracted by the Eryx and other cool snakes and overlooked the most amazing thing you photographed!

What the heck is this thing? An odonate? A weird moth?

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck »

chrish wrote:What the heck is this thing? An odonate? A weird moth?
Hey, I know that thingy... ;)

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A neuropteran, Nemoptera coa or sinuata. Together with it's below relative, an Ascaphus species, surely among the cooler insects of Europe.

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Here's another Greek monster that often occupies the same habitat - Empusa pennata.

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Photographed all three of them together in N Greece while somebody else was trying a bit harder to find Montivipera xanthina. :oops:

Let me add something herpy and familiar from the same area and trip to make this a bit more on topic ;)

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krismunk
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by krismunk »

Once again, thanks for the replies :)
todd battey wrote:Wow! It looks like you found just about all the snakes of that area. Well done!
I missed smooth snake & cat snake, don't think I was ever in range of aesculapian, but yeah, I'm not complaining.
travesty wrote:I love those whipsnakes! It's strange to me how they look so much like whipsnakes in the U.S.
Funny how I always seem to get comments on how similar some of our critters are to their US counterparts. Convergent evolution is cool.
chrish wrote:Actually, I got all distracted by the Eryx and other cool snakes and overlooked the most amazing thing you photographed!

What the heck is this thing? An odonate? A weird moth?
Jeroen Speybroeck wrote:A neuropteran, Nemoptera coa or sinuata. Together with it's below relative, an Ascaphus species, surely among the cooler insects of Europe.

...Here's another Greek monster that often occupies the same habitat - Empusa pennata.
Yep, Nemoptera, Ascaphus (also in the report) & Empusa are cool. While this was of course a herping trip, not an entolomological one I can't help keeping half an eye open for the bycatch as well and these were at the top of my invert wishlist this time around. Oddly enough I didn't see any mantids, though, only a couple of oothecae.

Oh well...

mark buck
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by mark buck »

Very cool. Great photos and narrative!

NACairns
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by NACairns »

Great post, I love these high diversity posts from Europe, turns my previous assumptions on their ear. Eryx would be an awesome species to see in the wild. I also love the Emys orbicularis.
Thanks
Nick

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mfb
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by mfb »

Great stuff, thanks for posting! And very kind of you to save that turtle in the well. What was that cage/trap thing shown in one photo? This post makes me want to visit Greece for some herping.

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krismunk
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Re: Pelonnese solo quickie

Post by krismunk »

I'm really happy about all the replies from Americans expressing surprise at the diversity and a desire to go to Greece to herp based on the report, was hoping for some of them. Europe is often thought of as somewhat of a boring continent to herp but while it is true that overall diversity is lower than in North America (and other continents excluding Antarctica) we do still have a little to offer :)
mfb wrote:Great stuff, thanks for posting! And very kind of you to save that turtle in the well. What was that cage/trap thing shown in one photo? This post makes me want to visit Greece for some herping.
Not sure about the cage. I was wondering about that myself and I'd be happy for any input. The cage was rather large but given that there shouldn't be any large predators in the area my best bet is that it's a jackal trap.

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