20 - 27 October, a herpetological trip to the Peloponnese, (Greece)
© All CONTENT & PHOTOGRAPHS G.J. VERSPUI 2013 ©
Unless mentioned otherwise.
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Already in january 2012 Bobby told me thet he really really wanted to go back to the Peloponnese, and autumn would be the perfect time for that.
It sounded like a splended way of wasting an October week to me! Other people who also wanted to go is a list of almost 20, but in the end we went there with 7 people from 3 different countries:
Jürgen: No nonsense herper, loves vipers, does not like swimming, Most said words: "Absolutly Nothing"
Peter & Birgit: Married Lizard loving couple, Most said words: No idea, they had a rental car of their own...
Kenny: Likes to drive, loves salamanders & naked wrestling..Most said words: Flopflop....
Ronald: Flippes 100 stones a minute, always the last one out of the field, Most said words/sounds: Ghhrrrruuulllmmm...
Bobby: Likes swimming, sleeping and naked wrestling, loves chameleons and..... Most said words: Hrrrauwwwmm ......trekken
Gert Jan (me): pretty normal actually...... Most said words: why are you making those Neanderthaler sounds to that innocent person...
Peloponnese, this large Greek peninsula has many species which are endemic to that area (species only occurring in this area), this is one of the reasons that this location would have been visited sooner or later by me.
Kenny, Ronald, Bobby and I were flying from Schiphol, I was the first one there and the others came shortly after me, so we were complete, lets get to Greece......
but, there was a problem with a window on the airplain so we left later than planned, this kind of screwed up our plans for the first day.
At the Athens airport we went straight to Hertz to get our party-van, an angry looking man with a small beard walked past me and this turned out to be Jürgen, we stuffed the car with our luggage and went towards the Peloponnese (150 km).
Birgit & Peter had arrived few hours earlier so they were already photographing lizards.
The first place we wanted to visit was a water hole with neotenic Alpine Newts inside it, we only found newts on land, Common Wall Lizards, March Frog and Green Toad were also there.
On a slope a bit further I found a Smooth Snake and later in the evening we found a Balkan Stream Frog on the road, after diner we drove to Kalogria, the most North Western point of the Peloponnese and met with Birgit & Peter, quickly dropped our luggage in the hotel and went out again to look for some amphibians, on the roads were some Green Toads, at the first stop we found March Frogs and Epirus Water Frog.
At the next stop we looked for 1 of my most wanted for this trip, Eastern Spadefoot Toad, Jürgen found the first one, a juvenile, after wiping away my tears of joy...I found a second one, an adult male, Jürgen found 3 more, 3 very fat females, so yes Jürgen, you found the most, and the biggest ones...
After breakfast we searched in the Kalogria area, but first I photographed the Eastern Spadefoot Toads from last night, because the sun was still low.
After that I went with Ronald and Kenny to the place where we found them and relaesed the toads, we looked around there and found Snake-eyed Skink, Balkan Wall Lizards and many Hermann’s Tortoises.
We went back to the guys and Birgit who were still at the slope, they saw lots of things, but had nothing to show......
On the southern part of the Kalogria area we stopped to photograph an Ibis, I found a tiny European Pond Terrapin and a big photosession started.
Goodbye Kalogria, Hello Kaiafa's Lake, this lake has some hot springs, so besides looking for herps, we also did some Synchronized Swimming and because the European Pond Terrapins and Balkan Terrapins were also swimming there, we did some herp swimming.
Next to the lake we found Agile Frog, Snake-eyed Skink, Balkan Green Lizard, Glass Lizard and Dice Snake, we also heard Common Tree Frogs calling.
The third location that day was in the area of Pylos, we would stay 2 days in this area because there were many interesting places near by, the first place we visited was a hill with some lose rocks on it, here we found Green Toads, Limbless Skinks and an Eastern Montpellier Snake.
After we found us a nice appartment and a big diner we went to an area where the African Chameleon occurs, it is the only place in Europe and probably they will not be there very long because of big hotel building planns.
When we arrived someone spotted a juvenile straight away, I think it was Bobby, not that strange, because he dreams about chameleons more often then he dreams about tigers and kippetjes (sorry Bob).
We searched from a path and from the road, because in october the females dig a nest in the sand and walking there could easily destroy those nests, many juveniles were seen and also 2 adults.
After this adventure we went to a fort on top of a hill, here we saw many Turkish Gecko's and Kenny found an active Leopard Snake.
Back at the appartment a big Common Toad was seen just before we went to sleep.
In the morning we went to a little waterfall, close to Schinolakka, the area there looks very dry, but the little valley where the river goes through is very green and moist, close to the river we found Greek Algyroides, Balkan Stream Frog, Peloponnese Wall Lizard and Eastern Montpellier Snake.
After this we went to a place for Nose-horned Viper, I think it should have been better if we would have visited this place first and the waterfall second, but we didn't.
Jürgen found a juvenile Nose-horned Viper, it turned out to be the only viper of the trip, so I guess we were lucky, other species in that place were Peloponnese Wall Lizard, Marginated Tortoise, Greek Algyroides and a dead Balkan Whip Snake.
After an other great diner in Gialova we went to a place where Moorish Gecko's are introduced, they were in and outside of a small building and inside was an other surprise, a European Hornets nest, these 4 cm large flying machines were not agressive at all, even not after I made some photos with flash.
In the morning we did an other quick search at the viper spot, but nothing and then we drove to the Polilimnio Waterfalls, this is a river with lots of small places where you can swim, with or without pendek, but thats for yourself to decide.
Next to the river there are lots of Greek Rock Lizards, Peloponnese Wall Lizards, Balkan Stream Frogs and a Glass Lizard.
The location was too beautiful to skip the hobby of bobby, so we almost all went swimming in the best swimming suits ever...
Later that day we looked around at an old monastery, but finding nothing was again the most heard set of words..
In the evening we arrived at Kardamyli, and we found us a superb hotel, in the town we had a rather boring diner and then we drove into the mountains, after 20000 curves we finally found what we were looking for, a male Fire Salamander, it was crossing the road the same way as a Wild Boar did 10 minutes earlier, only slower..
After an "eat as much as you can" breakfast (I like) we went to the magic olive groove, the species are supposed to be waiting in line there to get photographed, at least, that is what we heard...
Our own experience was a little different, we only found Kotschy’s Gecko's, Glass Lizards, Peloponnese Wall Lizards, Snake-eyed Skink, Marginated Tortoise, Turkish Gecko and a dead Leopard Snake, so not the much hoped for Sand Boa..
The afternoon was spend at a place a little higher, but in the same sort of habitat, here we found some other species as well, Ronald found a Balkan Whip Snake, other findings were: Eastern Montpellier Snake, Limbless Skink, Greek Rock Lizard and Ronald again found the first Peloponnese Slow Worm, which had a nice Gold/Black color scheme, typical for a juvenile.
The evening was without herping, but still we found some-thing/one that really wanted to be caught........so "dealing with disappointments" was her lesson of the day.
We looked for an other bar and reached it by climbing over the rocky shore and there they were....pff.....hhgrrmmrrrrwww (not really a good story for a trip report)
Back in the Hotel the herping started again, we had a Turkish Gecko in our room, the gecko jumped out of the window after some people started the Nude Wrestling thing again..
Again a very big breakfast, so I didnt have to eat during the rest of the day and this was very convenient because we arrived in "a dream of a landscape" next to the herp species we saw, we also found lots of caterpillars of the Spurge Hawk-moth (Hyles euphorbiae).
Where should we go next, we could go in the direction of the coast and search there.....from the second seat row came a happy voice" Yessssss swimming......." from the last row came an other voice "we are not on summer vacation, swim in your own time..."
We drove towards the coast, did a bit of herping, but found nothing..., it was a lot dryer there then at the places we visited earlier.
So we stopped and some people got a cup of coffee and others did some swiming on a very romantic beach.
Because we wanted to look for lizards the next day in the North of the Peloponnese, we drove with only one stop (where Ronald found a Leopard Snake) to Kastania, close to Feneos and stymfalos lake.
In Kastania we found a good hotel for 2 nights.
This day we will call: "Lizard day" in the area are many lizard species, at first we went to a place Peter knew, it was a bit higher then the other places, here we found many Peloponnese Slow Worms, Balkan Wall Lizards, Common Wall Lizards and Kenny found a huge female Fire Salamander, a bit later I found a second one.
Next stop was close to a lake, this was an other super spot, Jürgen found a juvenile Fire Salamander and a Greek Slow worm, Ronald let an adult Nose-horned Viper escape (shame on you Ronald), other species we saw there: Common Wall Lizard, Balkan Wall Lizard, Peleponnese Wall Lizard, Balkan Green Lizard, Balkan Stream Frog and some Dice Snakes.
Peter showed us an other beautiful valley with Erhard's Wall Lizard, in this place it is the very pretty subspecies "livadiacus".
These lizards were very shy, and it was hard to get good photos, I remember sitting for at least 45 minutes in front of some stones, waiting for a lizard to come out.
The Erhard's Wall Lizards were not alone there, their neighbours were Balkan Wall Lizards, Peloponnese Wall Lizards, Greek Algyroides, Balkan Green Lizards and Balkan Stream Frogs.
This day was a very good day!!
Good morning, this is the last day we can do some quality herping and because yesterday was "Lizard-day", we will turn this day into "Snake-day".
After breakfast we drove to Stymfalos Lake and we searched on the edges of the lake, we soon found some Dice Snakes and an Eastern Montpellier Snake, Peter was the hero of the day, he found a Cat Snake... other species there, a Peloponnese Slow Worm and a big Grass Snake.
When we wanted to go to an other location which was more in the direction of Athens, we noticed that Ronald was missing, this was not the first time, Ronald is most the the time the last one back at the car, dont get me wrong, this is a good thing... but to get him on our location as soon as possible we had a special way of calling him:
Roooooooooooonnnaaaaald...... (try it yourself if you know Ronald, it works, but try to put in a little german accent...)
Ronald back on board, now fast to a place with Occelated Skinks, I think everybody saw more then one.
At one moment I was walking close to Kenny and we heard a strange noise, it was Jürgen with a big rock on top of his leg, he wasn't able to remove the rock himself so he started to make strange distress- calls, at first we thought that he had finally found something, but that wasn't the case, still nothing....after grabbing the money from his wallet and making a funny photo Kenny and I rescued him from the big rock.
Bobby also saw a Dahl's Whip Snake and I found a +100cm Leopard Snake, a great way to end this trip!
The flight back home was the next morning, so we got us a cheap hotel (12€ p/person), went to a cheap eating joint where I bought the hungry boys some gyros and bought an extra one to eat as breakfast the next morning, and yes, it tasted good!!
This trip was a busy trip, we went to lots and lots of places, we found lots of species, the snakes were except one all found after flipping rocks or something else.
The team was more then OK, I had a great time, and a lot of fun, thank all of you for that.
I also like to thank Jeroen Speybroeck, Wouter Beukema and now I have to check Bobby's report because he did the gathering of locations... and......Matthieu Berroneau, Geert Carette, Maarten Gilbert en Benny Trapp.
1. Fire Salamander - Salamandra salamandra werneri
2. Alpine Newt - Ichthyosaura alpestris veluchiensis
3. Eastern Spadefoot Toad - Pelobates syriacus
4. Common Toad - Bufo bufo
5. Green Toad - Bufo viridis
6. Common Tree Frog - Hyla arborea (only heard them calling)
7. Agile Frog - Rana dalmatina
8. Balkan Stream Frog - Rana graeca
9. Marsh Frog - Pelophylax ridibundus
10. Epirus Water Frog - Pelophylax epeiroticus
11. Hermann’s Tortoise - Testudo hermanni
12. Marginated Tortoise - Testudo marginata (incl. ssp. weissingeri)
13. European Pond Terrapin - Emys orbicularis
14. Balkan Terrapin - Mauremys rivulata
15. African Chameleon - Chamaeleo africanus
16. Moorish Gecko - Tarentola mauritanica
17. Turkish Gecko - Hemidactylus turcicus
18. Kotschy’s Gecko - Mediodactylus kotschyi
19. Greek Algyroides - Algyroides moreoticus
20. Balkan Green Lizard - Lacerta trilineata
21. Greek Rock Lizard - Hellenolacerta graeca
22. Common Wall Lizard - Podarcis muralis
23. Balkan Wall Lizard - Podarcis tauricus
24. Peloponnese Wall Lizard - Podarcis peloponnesiacus
25. Erhard’s Wall Lizard - Podarcis erhardii
26. Ocellated Skink - Chalcides ocellatus
27. Snake-eyed Skink - Ablepharus kitaibelii
28. Limbless Skink - Ophiomorus punctatissimus
29. Glass Lizard - Pseudopus apodus
30. Greek Slow Worm - Anguis graeca
31. Peloponnese Slow Worm - Anguis cephallonica
32. Balkan Whip Snake - Hierophis gemonensis
33. Dahl’s Whip Snake - Platyceps najadum (seen at least twice)
34. Leopard Snake - Zamenis situla
35. Smooth Snake - Coronella austriaca
36. Cat Snake - Telescopus fallax
37. Grass Snake - Natrix natrix persa
38. Dice Snake - Natrix tessellata
39. Eastern Montpellier Snake - Malpolon insignitus
40. Nose-horned Viper - Vipera ammodytes