As we roll into December here are a collection of recent photos from Phuket and Khao Sok NP where I spent the past week on a school trip with some of my students. After a period of illness which caused me to cancel my trip to Sumatra I have managed to reschedule a few trips for the coming year;
December: Khao Sok NP (focussing more on birds and mammals in the areas surrounding the main lake)
February: Sumatra (Indonesia)
April: Central Thailand (Kaeng Krachen NP and everything in between!)
June/July: An eagerly awaited return to Greece (Cyclades islands, Ios, Sifnos, Milos etc)
On Wednesday evening we went to feed our regular group of stray dogs at a local lake and occasionally this allows observations of Reticulated pythons (Python reticulatus) and other snakes. It started to rain and this usually increases the possibility of seeing a python, often slowly moving across a road. As we left the lake we could see a large truck stopped in the middle of the road, as we approached further we could see a large python crossing and the driver had stopped to let it cross. However this was in a fact a Brongersma’s short-tailed python, also known as a Blood python (Python brongersmai)! As the habitat on the other side of the road was just houses we decided to catch the python and release it nearby in a less populated place. Of course I had to take some photos before it disappeared into the vegetation.
I have not been feeling well for the past month or so which involved me cancelling my trip to Sumatra. Despite this I have felt a bit better lately and I have been out a couple of times looking for wildlife. The monsoon rains have not been so strong so far so I have mostly avoided getting caught out in stormy weather! I caught up with the endemic Phuket pit viper (Trimeresurus phuketensis) which I had not seen for a good number of months as well as a number of other species.
Currently I have plans for trip further a field to Kui Buri NP, Kaeng Krachen NP in the dry season as well as a trip around the Greek islands in the summer after several years without visiting my favourite European country.
I am now back in Thailand after a busy summer where I spent time in the UAE, Slovakia, Hungary and the UK. I have added three photo galleries from these trips which can be viewed on the links below.
Back in Phuket and I have had a few nice observations this past week. A three metre Reticulated python (Python reticulatus) crossed the road in front of my car whilst out herping with Norbert. The same evening around ten Asian vine snakes (Ahaetulla prasina), a female Wagler’s pit viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) as well as a number of lizard and amphibian species. Then as I dropped Norbert off back home a baby python was crossing the road in front of his house.
On a different day I moved a beautiful Dog-toothed cat snake (Boiga cynodon) from a Buddhist temple toilet into the nearby forest and while looking for Oriental Bay owls we found two Striped bronzebacks (Dendrelaphis caudolineatus) our favourite restaurant. On a different afternoon a Clouded monitor lizard (Varanus nebulosus) and an Ornate flying snake (Chrysopelea ornata) crossed the road as I was driving around the island.
It has nearly been a year since I moved to Thailand and there is not a day that goes by where I regret my decision. Professionally I now teach in a wonderful international school filled with students who wish to learn and a very supportive staff. From another point of view more relevant to my website is that I can explore my interest in herpetology in much greater depth having so many species living on my doorstep.
On Saturday I will fly to the United Arab Emirates for a week long field trip, swapping rainforest for desert. After that I will travel on to Slovakia and Hungary before heading back for a short while to the UK. By early August I will be back in Thailand!
Below are a collection of some of my photos from Phuket and southern Thailand this past year.
Last night while out looking for bats with Kat and Paul we came across a fantastic scene. This large Wagler’s pit viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) was striking at bats as they were flying past. It only just missed a meal on a number of occasions and continued to move up and down the branch to try and get a better position for a strike. Despite watching it for over half an hour it was not successful, however I’m sure this is a good hunting spot for the snake with so many bats flying through every night
It’s been a busy time at work but I have had a number of good finds over the past month. I have done especially well with Wagler’s pit vipers (Tropidolaemus wagleri) having seen six females, including four big adults. Furthermore, I have found two Blood pythons (Python brongersmai) who sit in ambush each evening by their holes and have been around for over a month now.
In two weeks time I will leave Phuket for six weeks travelling to the UAE, Slovakia, Hungary and then the UK.
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.