A day-trip to the Veluwe with my 4 year old son and my 6 year old daughter, we visited some ponds and found many Common Newts, Alpine Newts, 1 Italian Crested Newt, a Viviparous Lizard and a Grass Snake, we also saw 4 Wild Boar with 6 piglets and 6 Red Deer.
So not a bad day, but the best find was a neotenic Alpine Newt, in april 2011 I already found one here and now an other one.
Advance easter party! Friday, early in the evening I drove towards Sjoerd van Bemmel's house and picked him up for a Pelobates night, we drove towards the place and started the search for Common Spadefoot Toads, within 5 minutes I spotted the first one at the surface of the water and made some photographs In Situ.
Sjoerd was very jealous of course and searched even harder, this resulted in a second one sitting on the bottom in a shallow part of the pond, again some photographs and I found the 3rd one minutes later.
Again Sjoerd was annoyed by my superb searching methods and this helped, he found the 4th and last one of that night.
The strange thing was that Sjoerd found 2 goodlooking Toads and the ones I found were not pretty at all, why is it like this........maybe the toads knew that I always say that real beauty is inside a person(or animal).
It was around midnight and we drove towards the area we wanted to visit the next morning, but first some sleep.
Sjoerd and I are both potential killers for the King of The Netherlands, so a little bit of hard routine & sleeping outside was peanuts for us, I checked a little bit if the skills & drills of my herping buddy were still ok....he brought his arctic snoring-bag, so it was alright and he even made some "knakworstjes" to keep the morale high.
I slept in my hammock and from there I had a great view on my buddy dealing with some light rain next to me, around 01:45 we slept.
I woke up around 07:15 and we had some breakfast, did 100 push ups and only the last 30 were on 2 hands.... after that we put the sleeping gear in the car and went towards an area infested with Adders, at least, that was what we hoped for...
It was cold, around 6 Celcius and there was a nasty wind, but the first (male) Adder was spotted when the sun was getting some strenght, exacly at 09:00 on top of a bush, so it was in the wind, Adders do crazy things in the mating season...
At the same spot we saw 3 more male adders, so we decided to come back a little bit later to check out if there were als females around.
We walked around a bit and found 6 more Adders next to the path. When we returned to the place with the male Adders I saw 2 males in combat and again it went very quick, I only have a bad photo of 2 tails going into the bushes.
We sat down and waited a bit, the 2 male who were fighting earlier were moving around constantly, a 3rd male was 3 meters away and a female was also moving around, we waited, but they did not meet each other again, so we moved a bit further on, 15 meters from that place I spotted an other male and this time he was together with a female, she was moving around and he was all over her all the time, we watched this going on for a couple of minutes in between our feet, but the vegatation was in the way so we could not make any photos.
I saw that the tails were really against each other and shortly after that we did not see or hear them any more, we left the happy couple and searched some more.
I saw 16 Adders there and more than enough Viviparous Lizards.
Around 13:30 we headed for Groningen to visit a place where Russian Rat Snakes live and breed, it did not take long before I spotted the first adult and the second one was next to it, both were balck with brown bands, the first one took of so I reached for the 2nd one and we photographed it, Sjoerd went back a little later and found the first one again, so we made some photos again, we also saw 2 juveniles and Sjoerd found an other very large adult and I photographed a Grass Snake.
We had a great day, saw almost everything we wanted to see....damn melanistic Adders.......
It was around 3 hours of driving back home, when I arrived I slept very early.
This sunday was one of the last chances this spring to visit the Adder site, last week only 1 out of 4 males I saw was shedded, but now they were all, except 1 in a new jacket!
I found 14 Adders, 8 were male, 5 female and one juvenile female from 2012.
3 times I found a male and female together, the males were trying to seduce the females and one time one black-eyed male went after an other male that came too close to his girl, it was a short and fast race where the black-eyed male stayed on top of the other male, so it was clear wo was the boss there.
The black-eyed male went straight back to where he left his girl and payed absolutely no attention to me with my camera.
Unfortunatly no Smooth Snakes this time, but the Sand Lizards were everywhere again and this time not only males, but also some fat females.
When I was about to leave the area I met with Ronald and his girlfriend, it was good to see you again Ronald!
Almost a week since last visit, hopefully the males shedded their skin, I arrived around 15:20, a bit late, but the in beginning of the day it was very cloudy and when I arrived the sun arrived too, but still there were some clouds.
I found a male Adder within minutes, but this one still had its old skin, so I did not photograph it, 15 meters from that spot I found a nice female Adder, which I photographed In Situ and left it where it was, the Sand Lizards were more active then last week and all the males are bright green now.
Then I saw a freshly shedded male Adder, it was half under a bush so only small parts of his body were in the sun, I made some pics and was lucky that it started to move and his head was in a better position for a photo.
After some Adder photography I searched some more and found 3 more Adders (2 males and one female) a Smooth Snake and some more Sand Lizards.
Hopefully next week some more pretty stuff...
After a saterday filled with birthdays and other parties I felt the need to spend the sunday in nature....It was 2 weeks since the last visit and I hoped for male Adders who already shed their skin, close to a lake I found 4 Adders, one of them was female, the first female for me this year, a Viviparous Lizard was also seen.
At the second spot I saw some strange guys wearing girly gloves, Ronald, Ron and Harold were collecting some data. Ron told me he saw a fresh shedded male Adder so I walked with him, I did not see that one, but found a fresh shedded female instead, a grey male who still needed to lose its skin was present also.
I waited for a while for the silver bullet male to show itself, but waiting is not my best quality, so I walked around a bit and found a nicely colored Smooth Snake, Ronald and I made some photos and released it again.
When Ronald walked away he found a juvenile from last year on the path, unfortunatly it already had an encounter with something hard, it was not very alive anymore.
So hopefully next time some light grey male Adders in combat for the females...........
But it was a great day, I think 12 Adders were seen, 4 of them female and I found my first Smooth Snake of the year.
Sunday again and we planned to go with my brother Robert and his family to the Veluwe again, unfortunatly my son was not feeling well, so he stayed home with his mother, My daughter Elin went with me and the rest.
When we arrived it was very cloudy and pretty cold, within 5 minutes Robert found a male Adder and at the place where we saw many Moor Frogs one week earlier, we saw many Common Toads now and 2 male Common Newts.
We arrived around 11:00 and it was cold until 15:00, then the sun came and together with Bobby and Laura we found 4 more male Adders and a Sand Lizard, so it was an other great day and nice to see my friends Laura and Bobby again!
Friday night, the 7th of March I went to my local amphibian spot, not a lot of activity, but I saw the first Male Great Crested Newt in the water.
Sunday morning the 9th of March around 09:00 we (my family and I)left home and an hour later we arrived at the Veluwe, this sunday was the first warm springday of the year, around a lake I searched for Adders and other reptiles, some others already saw a Smooth Snake, a bit early for them.
I saw several Viviparous Lizards and found 1 male Adder, while taking some photos I heard Moor Frogs calling.
The males of the Moor Frogs will be blue for just a couple of days in a year and we were lucky that now was that time, there were hundreds of males calling in the water and there was also some amplexus going on, to make the photos I had to go in the water, but it was worth it.
At an other place we walked around a bit and I found an other male Adder which was basking. (the one from the photos)
Together with my college Chris I went from Den Helder to "De Amsterdamse Waterleiding Duinen" to look for Common Tree Frogs, when we arrived we heard the Tree Frogs calling from far away, but the calling males were hard to find, they were all on land and calling from very thick vegetation.
In 2 hours or so we found enough of them and I was lucky enough to photograph 2 males calling and a couple in amplexus, we were happy enough and treated ourselfs with a filthy Mac chicken and an even more horrible tasting milkshake before we drove back to Den Helder.
This time I went to an area south of "De Drunense Duinen", here is a large population of Common Tree Frogs, unfortunatly the night temperature was very low for a night in June.
4 calling males were heard and only one was found after searching one square meter for about 15 minutes....
The Green frog species that I saw had a very bright green color.
A short visit to the "Amsterdamse Waterleiding Duinen" where I met with Bobby. We saw around 5 Common Tree Frogs and some Green Frogs were calling from the middle of the pond.
We also saw some Sand Lizards and when I came home I found a nice Natterjack Toad.
Friday night, after a good BJJ workout in Zevenbergen I woke up my daughter around 20:45 (I promised her) and she went with me to some small gullies filled with a little bit of water, very close to our home.
Here we found many Natterjack Toads, we saw some amplexus going on and some males were calling, but very hard to approach, as soon as we came closer, they stopped calling......luckily except for one.
Very tired we went home.
5 days later again to my local spot, this time my dad came with me, it was around 8 Celcius.
We saw many Great Crested Newts in the water and also a lot of calling male Moor Frogs, this time they were more blue then 5 days ago and we saw way more spawn.
An other night at my local amphibian spot, temperature around 10-11 Celcius and some light rain falling down, so superb conditions!!
When I walked from the car I found 2 Great Crested Newts straight away and there were loads of Common Toads and Grass Frogs on the path. In the breeding water of the Great Crested Newts I saw many individuals and one female was upside down in the water with her rear legs holding some water plants, she was laying her eggs against the waterplants, very nice to witness this.
In this area you have some bigger waters and smaller ponds next to each other, in the bigger water there are many Grass Frogs calling and in amplexus, also the Common Toads are in these waters.
In the smaller ponds there were a couple of Moor Frogs calling, they were not very blue yet. So I have to came back next week again!
After the last visit in the beginning of March spring was here, but after that we had a cold period that lasted almost 4 weeks, so this was the first time again I went out, temp were around 5-6 Celcius, it was dry and there was some wind, not the best conditions...
This resulted in only a couple of amphibians active, 4 Common Toads and 3 Grass Frogs and 1 Moor Frog, but after the 4 winter weeks it was a new start again.
8 Celcius and some light rain, lets go out and see if there is some movement, I found 4 species, all of them were crossing the road. The female Moor Frog had a very fat belly and the male already had a light blue tympanum and his front legs were ready for holding a female in a tight grip...
Spring has started!