A Dodecanese voyage in mid summer!

Welcome to my blog, as a first posting I thought I would tell you of my final trip of 2008, which was on the Dodecanese island of Symi, Greece. I last visited this tiny, barren island in April 2007, where I lived on a rural farm with my South view-of-symi-town-gialosAfrican friends Nicholas and Adriana Shum. It was really a great experience having an accommodation in an olive- grove which was alive with wildlife, especially reptiles and insects. I again stayed on the farm except this time I was there in August, with day temperatures of 40C! So unlike my previous trip, it was really hard going looking for herps during the day. Unlike my April trip when I was able to find some big Ottoman Vipers (Montivipera xanthina) and an even bigger and more beautiful Coin- Marked Snake (Hemorrhois nummifer) this time around no vipers could be found at all, however a further two big coin snakes were found active just before nightfall to avoid the unbearable heat. My main target for this trip was the Cat Snake (Telescopus fallax) a secretive, nocturnal species that is not often seen. I went out every night with my torch searching endlessly, in rocky terrain with old stone walls and disused buildings. On the last day of the trip whilst walking to the port at 6am, I saw an elderly Greek woman hitting a snake with her stick, it was a Cat Snake! The animal I had been searching for! I ran over and put a stop to her antics but sadly the little snake was already dead L a nicely patterned animal at around 60cm. I was very frustrated by this as I didn’t get my photographs of a living specimen, but I’ll be back for sure, as Symi is such a beautiful gem of an island, untouched by tourism. On the plus side I found a rare Golden Skink (Trachylepis auratus), which I could not find during my last trip and also a nice little Black Whip snake (Dolichophis jugularis) I found near my cabin. Last time around one of these snakes actually came into my room, in search of some shade from the blistering heat.a-juvenile-black-whip-snake-dolichophis-jugularis5

the-only-specimen-of-golden-skink-trachelepis-auratus-very-hard-to-find-on-symi1

By Matt Wilson

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