I spent a morning out in the field on Saturday, Carl picked me up and headed to a good spot for Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis). This reptile has a discontinuous distribution up north, although a lot of this could be down to lack of dedicated searchers. We quickly found 5 specimens, including a gravid female. Next up was some open moorland where Carl quickly found a grass snake (Natrix natrix) and a female adder (Vipera berus). Close to where we saw the adder I spotted a newborn specimen sat out in the grass, on closer inspection we found another 7 babies within a radius of about three metres. This is the first time I have seen newborn adders, likely only a day or so old. After this nice encounter Carl found another (bigger) grass snake, we saw another female adder and then had fun photographing good numbers of accommodating common lizards (Zootoca vivipara) along a drystone wall. Thanks to Alan and Neil for their help searching in the field after bumping into each other out doing the same thing.
The journal herpetozoa is a peer-reviewed scientific journal devoted to all aspects of herpetology in English and German which forms part of the Austrian Herpetological Society (OGH). It is regularly used for the most recent publication for anything concerning the Greek herpetofauna. Myself, Bo and Marie Stille visited the Ionian island of Paxos in May 2013 and had some significant finds worthy of publication. Our paper “WILSON. M, STILLE, B. & STILLE, M (2014) A short note on the herpetofauna of Paxos, including two species new to the island” has been published in Volume 27 of the journal. The paper can be downloaded on the herpetozoa website or directly from my blog.
In 2008 I visited Andalucía in southern Spain on a field trip with co-ordinators and members of the Austrian Herpetological Society (OGH), photographs from that trip can be found here.
As the premature Autumn air has already arrived in the north of England and as I prepare for term time once again I have made a few amendments to the blog recently. This includes updating the Local Species page and uploaded a photo gallery to the Outside Europe page about my trip to Costa Rica back in 2010. The second page is going to be updated further to accommodate trips in 2015 which will, more than likely, take place outside the boundaries of Europe where I do the majority of my field work.
Only one trip is fixed so far, which although politically part of Europe it is in fact geographically part of Africa. I will spend the Christmas period on the Canary Island of Tenerife, which although not a herping trip should allow me to observe the endemic lizard species found there. I’m already thinking about trips for 2015, so far ideas such as Northern Spain and Cyprus spring to mind as well as a certain trip further a field, possibly to either Central America or the USA. We shall see.
As I have quite a bit of free time before going back to work in the coming weeks I decided to visit my local Adder (Vipera berus) site again. Some females were again showing well in a bid to develop their offspring through the weak sun rays. I saw 4 familiar females and what I now believe to be a new female at a different part of the site together with a male who was coming into slough. It’s great that every now and then, despite my regular monitoring of this site that I am able to find a new adult individual. Furthermore, at a different place I have been watching some young Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) learning to hunt over the past week. Their nest site is within a small woodland but they use the open moorland behind it to practise their flying and hunting. I’ve found 3 such areas with young hawks around my village recently which was very nice, each with at least 2 young hawks in the area. Only one of these allowed me to get close enough for some photos.
Today I went out searching with David Nixon, first to an adder site where it was business as usual with eight females observed, six of which were clearly gravid. At a different site, two Little owls (Athene noctua), an adult and a fledgling were showing well as were a family of Sparrowhawks (Accipter nisus) in a plantation with at least four youngsters seen. Unfortunately they moved from tree to tree too quickly for me to get any photographs.
I have also updated the local species page to incorporate field work outings from 2014 as well as a more extensive photo gallery.
I’ve spent the past 12 days helping my biologist friend Ilias Strachinis (www.herpetofauna.gr) monitor some of the high mountains of Greece as well as doing DNA sampling on some species. This involved travelling large parts of the country and exploring some mountains previously never monitored for herpetofauna. This allowed me to see my first new species for several years, namely the Greek meadow viper (Vipera ursinii graeca). Furthermore, during days off in Thessaloniki we had some exciting snake rescues in the city which gained the attention of the local media. All in all a very fun trip! Photos can be seen here.