© All CONTENT & PHOTOGRAPHS G.J. VERSPUI 2013 ©
Unless stated otherwise.
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This summer it was not clear how the holidays would start, last year my 28 year old campervan broke down and it has not been repared ever since..
4 weeks prior to the holidays my dad had some time to look at the old diesel engine, the reason of the misery was found easily, the oil pump died, so the engine did not run very long without the oil doing its job.
An attempt to repair the pump did not work out good enough, so we tried to find a new one and that is sort of the problem if you have an old campervan, it is very hard to find parts....
1 week before the holidays were supposed to start, we found a secondhand oil pump!!! 3 days left to pack and we left home.
We left very early in the morning, because we wanted to reach the French Alps the same day, this is normally not a problem, but now I did not know if or when the engine would break down, we drove 95 km/h maximum.
My parents had left The Netherlands 2 days earlier and they were already in the Alps, we arrived at their location around 19.30 and we were very happy that we did not have any problems, half an hour earlier we found an adult Aesculapian Snake on the road, it was dead.
We ordered a pizza and looked around at the lake that was next to our spot, we only saw a Green Frog.
Next morning I gave my son an uphill running training, and after that we left for an other place close by, here we enjoyed the nice weather and walked around a bit, I found some Common Wall Lizards and some Viviparous Lizards and I got in touch with an electrical fence....believe me, in The Netherlands it is not adviceable to touch electrical fences, but here it was worse, I was thrown to the ground and it really felt like a knock down.
In the late afternoon we did some bbq-ing and after it we said goodbye to my parents, I drove to the Cottian Alps, exactly to the place that Cynthia and I visited in april, again I did not see any Lanza's Alpine Salamanders untill I flipped that one big flat stone, at least 10 of them..
The next morning we walked around in this beautiful area.
We wanted to take the boat from Livorno to Sardinia, so we came through Liguria, here we visited some places again that were also visited in april this year. One of those places was next to a little stream, here were a lot of Fire Salamander larvae, an Italian Stream Frog and lots of Apennine Yellow-bellied Toads (ssp pachypus).
We slept next to some old ruins, in the morning we saw bright green Common Wall Lizards (ssp nigriventris), some very shy Western Green Lizards and an Italian Slow Worm.
Later that afternoon we found a nice place next to a river and did some swimming and Green Frog stalking, this river was not far from Livorno, so in the evening we drove to the harbour of Livorno and slept there.
Very early in the morning I bought a ticket for the boat to Sardinia and around 08:30 our boat started the 6 and an half hour trip.
On Sardinia we stayed almost 2 weeks, we travelled around the island, had some wild camp spots and also stayed on campsites, the only reason for this was because my girls like to wash their hair with warm water on a regular basis.
The places we went to were most of the times linked with a certain herp species, so it happened more then once that we were on a campsite and that I travelled to a specific area, mostly to caves to find an other cave salamander species.
The first and the last 2 days on Sardinia were very hot, around 32'C, the rest was very nice holiday weather......
To find the cave salamanders I had to look a little harder then I wanted, but I managed to find them all except Gené’s Cave Salamander, I searched at most of the known places and even after some help from Jeroen Speybroeck, Bobby Bok, Wouter Beukema and Laura Tiemann, it still didnt work, the place where Laura saw them was a mine, but the steel door was welded to the frame, so it was impossible to enter the mine.
What I really liked was the variety in Tyrrhenian Tree Frogs, lots of different colors and they were at lots of places, most of the time close to the water, but sometimes high on a hill or inside a cave.
The trip to see the Sette Fratelli Cave Salamander was one to remember, I decided to go there on my mountainbike, on google earth the route seemed ok and it was not bad...untill I had a flat tire 1km before I reached the highest point, nothing else to do than carry that useless bike uphill.
It was my rear tire, so downhill I was still able to go down slowly, at the spot I found some wading boots that Laura forgot 2 weeks earlier, they looked very good on me... one leg was not waterproof anymore, so I was not totally fresh when I walked through the smelly water with 2 dead rats inside it.
The Sette Fratelli Cave Salamanders were very cool, there were 25 of them on the walls, the way back to where my campervan was, was a crazy one, I took the long way down, this was around 13 km instead of 8, but the longer route was a sort of road, so I could ride down with my flat rear tire, at first I went slowly, 10 - 15 km/h, but after a while I was used to the shitty tire and went down a bit faster (25 - 30 km/h).
The rim was totally f*cked up when I had reached the campervan, but I saved some time and it was fun.
It was a long day, but totally worth the trouble, Cynthia stayed with our children on the campsite and on the beach. There were many Italian men who could keep an eye on them, such friendly locals!!..
An other highlight was finding European Leaf-toed Gecko's, the place where I wanted to look had some annoying rules, it was not allowed to go there with a campervan, so I presented I can't read signs and drove to that place anyway and parked there, while I did some daytime 'checking out the area' the police came and showed some very childish behavior to my girlfriend. I could not help it and really tried at look at them normally when I returned, but I did not succeed, after some words with them they let us stand there for an extra hour.
The rest of the afternoon we stayed at a small beach and caught crabs, fishes and shrimps with Elin & Siem.
When it went darker Cynthia dropped me off and I searched for the little Gecko's, I found 4 of them!! What a cool species!
The next day we took the boat to Corsica.
When we arrived on Corsica, we loved the island straight away, it was much more green and the streams actually had water in them, something we had not seen often on Sardinia.
We stayed 9 days on Corsica and did the same as on Sardinia, most of the time camping where we wanted and the rest of the times on a campsite.
The Corsican Painted Frog was one of my favorites there, at first it was hard to see the differences with the Tyrrhenian Painted Frog. Both species were found from the higher mountain streams to the ones almost at sea level.
The Tyrrhenian Tree Frogs came in new colors here again, white with yellow spots was one of the most pretty ones, their abillity to change color is also very cool to observe, one night when we were on a campsite I found some Tyrrhenian Tree Frogs and took them with me to show them to Elin and Siem, in the morning they were almost black and in the daylight they started to get lighter again.
The Corsican Brook Newts were in almost every stream we saw, from the higher mountain streams to the ones almost at sea level.
Finding Corsican Fire Salamanders in the beginning of August was not that easy, I did not see any larvae in the streams, but found 4 larvae in a man made waterplace, from this place I walked uphill and found some places where the dry stream still had some moist places, here I found a juvenile and a fat adult.
The lizards of Corsica were very cool to photograph, I even saw a Tyrrhenian Algyroides close to the city Corte, but it went away faster than it came... The Bedriaga’s Rock Lizard turned out to be great models!
The Corsican Grass Snakes I saw were really beautiful, one was light grey and the second was more brown-grey, on the location of the first one I did a evening search with my daughter, she found a Tyrrhenian Tree Frog and caught a Pool Frog, we saw many eels (Anguilla anguilla) and some Tyrrhenian Painted Frogs.
Very proud and very tired she went to sleep!
After 9 great days we left Corsica from Bastia and went to Genova.
The route home was going through the alps again, we took a great route over the Colle Del Agnello from the Cottian Alps (Italy) into the Queyras (France), on the Italian side we saw many Alpine Marmots (Marmota marmota) and a big Grass Frog.
Close to Briancon we stayed one day in a little valley where we were in 2010, after this the drive home really started, still not going fast, but the engine was still in one peace, so I think I can trust my campervan again after almost 6000 km without problems. (guess what happens in 2013)
Our last stop was in the Lorraine, it was around diner time, so it was a good time to stop and look for Asp Vipers, I found 4 of them and one Smooth Snake, definitely a good last stop before arriving home after 4 great (busy) weeks.
It was a family summer holidays, but thanks to the patience of my girl Cynthia I managed to see almost all species possible.
Also thanks to some good friends who provided great information, Jeroen Speybroeck, Wouter Beukema also thanks to Bobby Bok and Laura Tiemann who gave me some info by textmessages and let's not forget the wading boots, also very handy!!
Sardinia and Corsica are both very interesting places, close to each other, but definitely not the same, I liked them both a lot and I will visit them again.
1. Fire Salamander - Salamandra salamandra gigliolii
2. Corsican Fire Salamander - Salamandra corsica
3. Lanza’s Alpine Salamander - Salamandra lanzai
4. Corsican Brook Newt - Euproctus montanus
5. Sardinian Brook Newt - Euproctus platycephalus
6. Monte Albo Cave Salamander - Speleomantes flavus
7. Sopramontane Cave Salamander - Speleomantes supramontis
8. Scented Cave Salamander - Speleomantes imperialis
9. Sette Fratelli Cave Salamander - Speleomantes sarrabusensis
10. Tyrrhenian Painted Frog - Discoglossus sardus
11. Corsican Painted Frog - Discoglossus montalentii
12. Yellow-bellied Toad - Bombina variegata pachypus
13. Common Toad - Bufo bufo
14. Green Toad - Bufo viridis balearicus
15. Tyrrhenian Tree Frog - Hyla sarda
16. Common Frog - Rana temporaria
17. Italian Stream Frog - Rana italica
18. Pool Frog - Pelophylax lessonae
19. Marsh Frog - Pelophylax ridibundus
20. Hermann’s Tortoise - Testudo hermanni
21. European Pond Terrapin- Emys orbicularis(capolongoi & lanzai)
22. Red-eared Slider - Trachemys scripta elegans
23. Moorish Gecko - Tarentola mauritanica
24. Turkish Gecko - Hemidactylus turcicus
25. European Leaf-toed Gecko - Euleptes europaea
26. Tyrrhenian Algyroides - Algyroides fitzingeri
27. Western Green Lizard - Lacerta bilineata
28. Bedriaga’s Rock Lizard - Archaeolacerta bedriagae
29. Viviparous Lizard - Zootoca vivipara
30. Common Wall Lizard - Podarcis muralis
31. Italian Wall Lizard - Podarcis siculus
32. Tyrrhenian Wall Lizard - Podarcis tiliguerta
33. Ocellated Skink - Chalcides ocellatus
34. Italian Slow Worm - Anguis veronensis
35. Western Whip Snake - Hierophis viridiflavus
36. Aesculapian Snake - Zamenis longissimus (DOR)
37. Smooth Snake - Coronella austriaca
38. Grass Snake - Natrix natrix corsa
39. Viperine Snake - Natrix maura
40. Asp Viper - Vipera aspis