I thought I would upload some more photos from my Crete trip last week, this time including a couple of landscape shots to give abit of an idea of some of the areas we explored. Have a good weekend.
A rocky hillside with a number of old stone walls where I found Balkan Green Lizards (Lacerta trilineata) and Balkan Whip Snake (Hierophis gemonensis). Further down the hillside in cultivated areas we also found Occellated Skinks (Chalcides occellatus), Green Toads (Bufo viridis), Cretan Frogs (Rana cretensis), Leopard Snakes (Zamenis situla) and Dice Snakes (Natrix tessellata).
The Lassithi plateau, this fertile valley has plenty supplies of freshwater so here we found many breeding sites for Green Toads (Bufo viridis) and some Common Tree Frogs (Hyla arborea).
This fresh water inland lake was a great spot where we found some of the frog and lizard species we wanted.
A female Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata) that belongs to the Cretan subspecies polylepidota.
A big female Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata) of 120cm, the open mouth of this specimen is not a sign of aggression but it is in fact the first stage of its feigning death display
This Green Toad (Bufo viridis) was photographed as found when it was uncovered beneath a stone
This Leopard Snake (Zamenis situla) was found hiding beneath a flat stone at the side of a dirt track passing through cultivated land.
The Balkan Whip Snake (Hierophis gemonensis) is the most common snake found on Crete, as well as being a common species throughout most of western Greece and many other islands.
Here is a photo of myself and Kevin Byrnes after capturing a very fiesty Balkan Whip Snake (Hierophis gemonensis) in a beautiful olive- grove habitat last week on Crete. We managed to capture a further two of these shy snakes during our great trip. Thanks to Suzanne for the pic:
Just got back from my trip to Crete with Kevin Byrnes and his girlfriend, and fellow herp enthusiast Suzanne. What a great trip it was, despite mixed weather, including hail storms we found pretty much everything we wanted. After a first couple of days with rain and wind which were spent in pursuit of amphibians, we were lucky to have two whole days of sunny weather which allowed us to find lots of reptiles. As well as seeing some nice endemic species, we were able to find two beautiful Leopard snakes (Zamenis situla) on our final day at a great spot we discovered, both hiding under stones. The most beautiful specimen was a first snake find for Suzanne, and what a lucky first find! Furthermore I was happy to meet John Mclaren at the Crete aquarium in Heronissos who is doing wonders to educate foreigners and locals alike with regard to the reptiles (especially snakes) found on Crete. You can see his website at: www.aquaworld-crete.com. John informed me how he has to be very careful with regard to some foreigners who visit and claim to want to see snakes, but in fact the Leopard snake is a grand prize for terrarium keepers, and many specimens are taken each year from Crete and elsewhere in Greece. These people are not real Herpetologists, no one who loved these animals would ever take them from their habitat, put them in a suit case and then sell the in the UK, Germany or any other country. I really hope these people get what is coming to them when they arrive at the airport. But I am happy to say, the nice areas we discovered will never be reached by such people. Here are a couple of photos from the trip:
I have recently recieved word that an area where I have some good memories has been turned into a quarry near to the city of Cartagena in Murcia, Spain. In March last year, in this small hillside area I caught a wonderful male Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) of 180cm, the biggest I had caught to date. At the time there were signs of development but I did not feel it would be an immediate threat to the entire area, it seems I was wrong. Most snakes have an ability to survive in areas which have been developped radically, so hopefully the snakes and other wildlife present in the area have moved away from their regular territories due to the disturbance to the steeper parts of the hillside where further development is not possible. Here is a photo of the specimen just after I found it: