A more successful Murcia visit

After my weekend back in Murcia (Spain) a few weeks ago I thought I would share with you some images from Kevin Byrnes of a far more serious (and successful) herping trip in the region. Kevin visited Murcia in April and was successful in finding most species present in the area, including the species that I tried and failed to find a few weeks ago, the Southern midwife toad (Alytes dickhilleni). 

A male Southern midwife toad (Alytes dickhilleni) carrying eggs (C) Kevin Byrnes

He was especially fortunate to find a nice Grass snake (Natrix natrix) of the subspecies astreptophora, which is possibly the most difficult snake to find in southern Spain. I was also pleased to hear of his findings of a pair of Ladder snakes (Rhinechis scalaris), not because they are particularly rare, but that he found them in an area I thought would be very low in snake numbers due to the overwhelming development of urbanisations, golf resorts etc. Despite its small size, Murcia has lost such vast quantaties of habitats in the last ten years, largely thanks to uncontrolled ‘urbanizaciones’ or as I prefer to call them ‘Stepford wives holiday villages for the British and Germans devoid of any character or charm’. Such holiday villages are usually accompanied by golf resorts that drain precious water resources and require the clearing of huge amounts of Mediterranean countryside to construct. There is still an on going dispute about the contruction of golf resorts close to the sierra de Almenara and the effects it will have on its endangered populations of Moorish tortoises (Testudo graeca). More recently, conservation groups have had to take action to stop the construction of a new urbanisation next to the wildlife park of Calblanque, an area especially rich in reptiles and birds. However proposals for development seem to have gone ahead…

By Matt Wilson

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