6th - 10th of April, a herpetological trip to Liguria (Italy)
© All CONTENT & PHOTOGRAPHS G.J. VERSPUI 2013 ©
Unless stated otherwise.
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Early spring, in the evening of the 6th of april me and Cynthia took our privat jet to Milano and on the airport we grabbed our very big rental car... (Fiat Panda)
Because it was already dark we drove straight to the first place where I wanted to look, almost there we found a Green Toad walking on the road and when we arrived at the small forest area I put the hammocks in some trees.
Before I went to sleep I looked around and only found 1 frog, it turned out to be the target species: Italian Agile Frog, after some photos it jumped away, they do that.....so time for me to jump into my hammock.
In the morning we looked around a bit and found only some short legged Green Frogs, most likely Pool Frogs.
Next place was in the Cottian Alps, the place we visited was still covered with lots of snow, I did some crazy stone 'flipping', but I did not find any Lanza’s Alpine Salamander, the scenery was great and we did see some Grass Frogs, very large males, we already had breakfast otherwise this would have been a good big meal...(raw)
From the Cottian Alps we drove to the area around Genova, here we visited some caves, gardens and an old tower.
The caves came first, here we found lots of Italian Stream Frogs, Fire Salamander larvae and a handfull of Strinati’s Cave Salamanders.
After the caves we had diner in a real Italian restaurant, actually we could only find Italian ones in Italy...
At the old tower there was a lot of wind, but close to it we heard many Stripeless Treefrogs calling.
At an other place the Stripeless Treefrogs were calling again, most of them from buckets with water in them and few from the small stream close to it, in the stream were also some Common Toads and when I walked back to the car I spotted a skinny Northern Spectacled Salamander, this was a very welcome bonus.
Back at the car Cynthia was already sleeping...I drove to the spot I wanted to visit the next day. Before we arrived I did not see a big rock, so I damaged the Fiat Panda.....and I had a speeding ticket.....so this trip was 225 € more expensive then necessary.........
I put the hammocks in the trees again, this time on a steep hill, which had a great view in the morning, underneath my hammock I saw something moving through the leaves, it was a Strinati’s Cave Salamander!!
In the morning we went to an open hill top, the temperature went up quickly and soon reptiles were seen, Common Wall Lizards, Western Green Lizards, Italian Slow Worm and 3 Western Whip Snakes.
On the North faced side of these hills we came at a very moist place where 2 Fire Salamanders and more then 20 Strinati's Cave Salamanders were found in a very short time, Cynthia found a Strinati's Cave Salamander which was moving trough the leaves in the sun, the others were all found underneath something.
We hoped to find Yellow-bellied Toads and went to a very beautifull place where they are living, unfortunatly they were not around, we did see some Common Wall Lizards, Western Green Lizards, Italian Stream Frogs, Fire Salamander larvae and a Wild Boar family.
We decided to drive further south and look for Ambrosi’s Cave Salamander, about halfway I saw a man made waterhole and inside were many Alpine newts, the males had bright blue colors.
At the place were we looked for Ambrosi’s Cave Salamander, we also found Italian Stream frogs again, the salamanders we saw were really pretty with those lighter spots.
The next morning I wanted to look for the third Italian mainland Cave Salamander species, so after an other good Italian diner I drove to the area around Luca and found us a good place to sleep.
In the morning the sun woke us up and after breakfast we went to a cave where the Italian Cave Salamander occurs, it was not easy to get inside the cave, but I found 3 salamanders, so it was worth it, getting out of the cave was even worse, the mud was very slippery, so I had to dig myself out...
The rest of the day we looked around at a nice lake, in the late afternoon we arrived in the town Bobbio, here we found us a real hotel and went to one of the restaurants there, the people working there were really nice and kept giving us free booze.
Today we woke up early, because we wanted to do more then one thing before we would fly home again, around 08.30 we arrived at a beautifull Church which was build on a rock, close to that area were ponds with lots of Italian Crested Newts and Alpine Newts.
Before we went to the airport we visited the city center of Piacenza, did some shopping and had a coffee, no need to say that I really really liked that...
A short trip with Cynthia in spring, it was a huge succes.
The Cottian Alps and the Ligurian coast and mountain areas are among the most beautiful areas within Europe, for some species we were a little bit too early, but the landscape alone was more then worth the trips to those areas.
A special thanks to Jeroen Speybroeck for his help and information, Cheers mate!!
1. Fire Salamander - Salamandra salamandra
2. Northern Spectacled Salamander - Salamandrina perspicillata
3. Alpine Newt - Ichthyosaura alpestris apuanus
4. Italian Crested Newt - Triturus carnifex
5. Strinati’s Cave Salamander - Speleomantes strinatii
6. Ambrosi’s Cave Salamander - Speleomantes ambrosii
7. Italian Cave Salamander - Speleomantes italicus
8. Common Toad - Bufo bufo
9. Green Toad - Bufo viridis
10. Stripeless Tree Frog - Hyla meridionalis
11. Grass Frog - Rana temporaria
12. Italian Agile Frog - Rana latastei
13. Italian Stream Frog - Rana italica
14. Pool Frog - Pelophylax lessonae
15. Western Green Lizard - Lacerta bilineata
16. Common Wall Lizard - Podarcis muralis
17. Italian Slow Worm - Anguis veronensis
18. Western Whip Snake - Hierophis viridiflavus