Sunday, 10 August 2014

Beeping Toads

On Friday night I took Liam Russell to see the local population of Midwife Toads Alytes obstetricans. Again thanks to Alan Mosley for allowing us to search through his garden. Conditions were damp so ideal and there seemed to be more than usual calling, maybe as a result of a couple of mild winters and good summers. This time we found a couple of males carrying eggs, one fairly new and the second with well developed tadpoles inside complete with visable eyes. There were also a few common frogs and a common toad.










 



 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Field Herping Trip To The Cyclades Islands Greece

From June 14th to 28th, a team of Matt Wilson, Liam Russell and myself did a full on herping trip to the Greek Islands of Ios, Sikinos, Milos and Santorini. The weather was hot and sunny for the full 2 weeks, thus searches were suspended by 11am and resumed again once it had cooled down, this meant we could do some beach lounging and swimming in the hottest part of the day. We managed 7 species of snake, 6 species of lizard, 1 terrapin and 1 frog which is a full house of species, snake eyed skink was the only species not photographed (seen by Liam).

Ios 15th - 21st
A stressful flight from Manchester to Athens, we had 1 hour 15 mins to make a connection to Santorini and the first flight was late. Like a scene from the Fast Show we were running through Athens airport and made the connection by the skin of our teeth. Then straight onto the ferry to Ios ticking off Cory's and Mediterranean Shearwater . Quickly chucking our stuff in the apartment and straight out into the field. Kotchy's Gecko and Erhard's Wall Lizard were soon seen, then after a hour or so Matt caught an adult 4 Lined Snake which was a very dark individual at about 120-140cm. This was a surprise because it was very warm and these snakes normally avoid the hottest part of the day. Later that evening a male Blue Rock Thrush sang near the balcony of our apartment. Over the next few days we ticked off an array of species, we found a couple of the very scarce Green Lizard which had grey/blue flanks and found a very nice spring containing Water Frogs, both these could be a subspecies as very little work has been done on the herpetofauna of Ios. A total of 5 living and 1 DOR Sand Boas were found, Turkish Gecko. Birds included Eleonora's Falcon, Buzzard, Raven, Chukar and Woodchat Shrike and a few pairs of Black Eared Wheatear.

 Having now found God Matt prays for a safe ferry crossing.
 Santorini
 Apartment View

Rico The apartments resident dog
 
 Ios
 Ios
 
 Cory's Shearwater
Med (Youkuan) Shearwater
 Female Erhard's Wall Lizard
 If only Matt Wilson found it this easy.
 Selection of Males one Above and Below



 Nice dark 4 Lined Snake

 
 

New herping partner
 
 Turkish Gecko
 Ios Green Lizard Male and probable female below



 Green Lizard Habitat
 
Matt stalking a lizard
 
 Ios Water Frog
 
 3 different Sand Boas





 
 Black Eared Wheatear


 Male Blue Rock Thrush
 Chukar and Chicks

 Common Buzzard
 Crested Lark
 Little Owl
 Raven
 Red Rumped Swallow
 Rock Dove
 Sardinian Warbler
 Woodchats
 
 Antlion
 Cicada
 Damselfly spp
 Dragonfly spp
 Orb Spider
Scorpion spp
 
 
Sikinos 17th-18th
 
Just a short ferry crossing from Ios we spent one night on this sparsely habited Island which seemed the driest and hottest. Here there were lots of Kotchy's and Turkish Geckos plus Erhard's Wall Lizard. We also found a very nice male Nose Horned Viper, the snakes on these Islands are much smaller than those found in other parts of Greece and of a slighter build. There were a lot of Eleonora's Falcons with about 7 in the air at the same time.
 






 




 
 Male Snozzel Horn



 
Milos 21st to 27th
We spent 6 days on Milos and found all of our target species again with morning  and evening searches. First snake up was a lovely Leopard Snake spotted by Liam which he was really chuffed with as it was a new species for him, it was a real pain to photograph it just wouldn't stay still. Following on from this we found  my first new snake species of the trip, a well marked sub-adult Milos Viper and much easier to photograph. The next day we visited the only freshwater on the island (it did not look fresh). Here we saw a few Milos Green Lizards which were a bit shy for photography and a few new species of birds.
 
The Pond
 Striped Morph Leopard Snake




 Milos Viper




 
 Dragonfly Spp
 Kotchys
 Little Egret
 Green Lizard
 Milos Water Frog

 Juvenile Night Heron
Pallid Swift
 
Matt said he knew of a good spot to photograph the usually shy Milos Wall Lizard which I've wanted to see ever since I first saw an illustration of them. Sure enough they were good value for money.
 
Males

Female maybe gravid hence yellow throat

Males



 
 Alpine Swift
 
 Juvenile Long Legged Buzzard
 
 
No Red Lights in these windows
 
Late in the day eagle eyed Liam spotted the 6th snake species of the trip a very nice cat Snake.
 




Kentish Plover
 
 
We had 2 further visits to the pond and on each occasion we saw Milos Grass Snake but they were all out in the water other than a brief sighting on the bank which Liam made a dash for but it vanished. We saw at least 4 snakes of various colour morphs. Liam made a valiant attempt at a catch from a jetty and ended up in the water. In the evening I spotted another larger viper which had a more fiery nature doing a S shape as often seen in rattlers. We also added Balkan Terrapin and more Milos Water frogs the biggest I've ever seen.
 
 
 Balkan Terrapin
 Dragonfly spp
 
 
Hornet with a normal sized wasp for comparison
 Milos Grass Snake

 Another

 Another

 Matt and Liam discuss Liam's next dive.
 Milos Green Lizards

Viper Photography

 2nd Bigger Viper




We saw quite a few of these White Breasted Hedgehogs I removed some giant ticks from a few.


 Giant water frogs
 
 View across the bay
 

 The Team on the hunt for Mythos
 
 
Santorini
 
The last night was spent on Santorini just in case of last minute ferry problems. Not so many species on here but we did find a good spot for Erhard's Wall Lizard and a few Turkish Geckos.
 






 
The Gecko finally got away less his tail.
 
 
Species Lists
I = Ios, S = Sikinos, M = Milos T = Santorini (Thira)
 
Reptiles
Balkan Terrapin only 1 M
Green Lizard 2 I c10 M
Erhard's Wall Lizard Common I, S, T (lifer)
Milos Wall Lizard Fairly Common M (lifer
Turkish Gecko Common I and S Uncommon M and T
Kotchy's Gecko Common I, S, M
Snake Eyed Skink 1 M
4 Lined Snake 1 I (1 dead)
Leopard Snake 1 M
Milos Grass Snake 4 maybe 6 M
Sand Boa 5 plus 1 DOR I
Nose Horned Viper 1 S
Milos Viper 2 M (lifer)
Cat Snake 1 M
 
14
 
Amphibians
Water Frog approx. 10 on I and M
 
1
 
Mammals
Rabbit 3 I
White Breasted Hedgehog small numbers I and M
 
2
 
Birds
Cory's Shearwater few ferry crossing (lifer)
Mediterranean (Yelkouan) Shearwater few ferry crossing
Shag 2 M
Night Heron 1 M
Little Egret 2 M
Mallard 3 M
Long Legged Buzzard 1 M
Common Buzzard Few I
Kestrel Few I, S, M, T
Eleonora's Falcon 7 S few I and M
Chukar 8 I
Pheasant 1 M
Collared Pratincole 1 M
Greenshank 1 M
Kentish Plover 3 M
Yellow Legged Gull Fairly Common
Rock Dove 15 I
Collared Dove fairly common
Turtle Dove several I
Little Owl Few I and M
Scops Owl Several M
Swift  few I
Pallid Swift few M
Alpine Swift 1 M
Crested Lark Common
Red Rumped Swallow 10 I
Barn Swallow 2 I
White Wagtail Few
Grey Wagtail 1 I
Black Eared Wheatear several pairs I
Blue Rock Thrush 2 I
Sardinian Warbler fairly common
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler 10 M
Woodchat Shrike Pair I
Raven small  numbers I and M
House Sparrow Common
Spanish Sparrow Several M
Linnet Few I
Goldfinch Few I
Cretszchmar's Bunting Pair I
 
41