April started as a very hot, dry month but gradually the rains are returning and with them some better observations, especially snakes. Over the past few weeks I have seen two female Wagler’s pit vipers (Tropidolaemus wagleri), three Phuket pit vipers (Trimeresurus phuketensis), a reticulated python (Python reticulatus), a Blood python (Python brongersmai), a speckle-headed vine snake (Ahaetulla fasciolata), many Asian vine snakes (Ahaetulla prasina), a Speckle-bellied keelback (Rhabdophis chrysargos), a Dog-faced water snake (Cerberus rynchops), a Green cat snake (Boiga cyanea) and a Sunbeam snake (Xenopeltis unicolor). I’m hoping for more monsoon rains in the coming weeks!
Long time fielding herping companion Carl Corbidge came to visit Thailand for a two week trip. We spent several days here on Phuket as well as three nights in Krabi province and three nights in Khao Sok National Park. We did a combination of looking for reptiles and amphibians as well as birds and mammals. With regards to snake species we saw an impressive 23 live species and probably over 50 individual snakes altogether, so not bad at all! No time for an in depth field report this time but here is a photo gallery from Carl’s trip. Thanks again to Deng and Vern who helped us out during our searches.
Click here to visit the photo gallery.
Over the weekend I went back to the spot where I saw the female Wagler’s pit viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) the previous weekend. I was pleased to see that it had only moved a couple of metres during that time and with my 400mm lens I managed to get a few more photographs of it. I decided to inspect some of the other trees and bushes in the area and despite there being quite a lot of people, cats and dogs around I found a second female viper! This one was resting on a branch about a metre off the ground and was a greenish colour, typical of a sub-adult female. Several times I saw feral cats walk past the snake which they either did not notice or know to avoid!
UPDATE: the top photos are of the same sub-adult female viper a week later during this time it did not appear to have moved at all!
As I dropped Kat off this morning I decided to check out a couple of nice looking spots on my drive back home. Although they were full of tourists as I sat down on a bench to have a drink of water I couldn’t believe what I saw as I looked in the tree above me: a female Wagler’s pit viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri)! Not only that but a metre away from it on the same branch was a sleeping Green cat snake (Boiga cyanea). Not bad for a Sunday morning..
Apologies for yet another short report, but the King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) from last weekend in Krabi really deserves it’s own page with some of my favourite photos of this encounter. Click here.
On Saturday evening together with Adrian I went out into some primary forest on Phuket to see what we could find. It is very dry here at the moment so our expectations were quite low, despite this we found a Mock viper (Psammodynastes pulverulentus), a sleeping vine snake (Ahaetulla prasina) and a first for me, a Blunt-headed snake (Aplopeltura boa). It was nice to find some snakes for Adrian to see before he heads back to the UK!
On Sunday morning we headed over to Krabi as Vern (www.thailandsnakes.com) called me to say he had just found a King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), knowing how much I wanted to see a wild one, I raced over there to see it. This was a small king, around 1.5 metres but such a beautiful snake and a real treat to see. Needless to say I took lots and lots of photos before the snake was released. Thanks Vern!
I don’t usually see much wildlife between Monday and Friday as I am far too busy with teaching but this week was slightly different. After work one afternoon I was driving to a local shop when Kat spotted a security guard by the side of the road dangling a snake from his animal catching noose. Needless to say I quickly did a U-turn and removed the snake from the noose and offered to take it away and release it which the security man happily accepted. The offending snake was an Ornate flying snake (Chrysopelea ornata) which I released in a more suitable habitat away from the housing complex.
On Saturday morning when we went for a walk, we came across a small snake that I could not identify. All I knew was that it would not be highly venomous, so I took a series of photos. Later on it was confirmed by Vern Lovic that this is indeed a rare snake in Thailand, called the Orange-bellied snake (Gongylosoma baliodeirus). In addition, we came across a small Oriental vine snake (Ahaetulla prasina) during the same walk.
One of my most recent projects on Phuket aside from photographing amphibians and reptiles has been to get photographs of the elusive Oriental Bay owl (Phodilus badius). Owls are my favourite birds and before I moved to Thailand I knew this was the species that I most wanted to see. Together with Kat and Paul we were finally successful on Friday evening on what was our third or fourth attempt at finding this owl at this location. We had previously heard them calling but this time we had fantastic closeup views of less than two metres for nearly ten minutes!
In addition, on Saturday evening I found a Sunbeam snake (Xenopeltis unicolor) crossing the road on a warm evening after a heavy shower.