East Spain, May 2012


Visited places
Visited places

16th - 20th of May 2012, a herpetological trip to Eastern Spain

 

© All CONTENT & PHOTOGRAPHS G.J. VERSPUI 2013 ©

Unless mentioned otherwise.

 

 

 

 

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May 16th & 17th, Parc Natural del Montseny & Alien Newts


Only 4 days in Eastern Spain, the first plan was to look around in the Barcelona area, but when we were there things changed a bit, I 'd say, they changed in a good way...

 

Bobby and I left from Schiphol in the evening of the 16th of may, when we arrived in Barcelona, we grabbed our rental car and drove into the city center, where Wouter and Philip were waiting for us, they were waiting at a very hard to reach place in this beautiful city.

 

We arrived around 23.15 at the site where Montseny Brook Newts live and climbed down into the valley, some of us had an exceptional speed while running down the hill.

 

At the stream we found 2 Montseny Brook Newts within 10 minutes and there was also a Fire Salamander, it was around midnight and Philip decided to look a bit further in the valley on his own, his build in compass didn't work good enough, so we didnt see him for at least half an hour...

 

Because it was around 04:00 we decided to sleep there, so I tied my hammocks to the trees for Bobby and me and Wouter and Philip slept in the car.

 

 

The next morning we went to an other stream which was full with Montseny Brook Newts again, at this place we met with Frank, Matthieu and his girlfriend Maud.

 

Next stop was a 1400m high plateau on the south side of the Pyrenees, here was a population of the Northern Banded Newt, this newt species is from Turkey, so it is a bit strange that they live here.

 

Frank went with us and in the first pond we found many of them, other species found on the plateau were Common Midwife Toads, Parsley Frog, Stripeless Tree Frog, Green Frogs, Common Toads, Slow Worm, Catalonian Wall Lizards and a Viperine Snake.

 

When the evening came the temperature went down and everybody was very hungry, I had some easy meals with me, which only needed boiling water, as a desert I had a bottle of "Mount Gay Rum" from Barbados...

 

May 18th, drive drive drive-->Chameleons


Good morning, last night we talked about the next place to go, we had the crazy idea to travel down south to the Murcia province and do some herping there, the drive was a very long one, but our car did not have any problem with 160-170 km/h so it was do-able.....and I only got one speeding ticket that trip...

 

Frank went an other way, see you next time my friend!

 

We arrived at a beach area close to Cartagena in the late afternoon, this turned out to be a great place, things we saw here: lots of good looking reptiles and an even better looking local poor girl who did not have enough money to wear clothes......but when she saw a tall young man taking pictures of her, she got dressed very quickly....Thanks a lot B.

 

One of the reptiles we saw was a huge male Sierra Nevada Occelated Lizard, this species has a sort of dinosaur sized head and paler color. The headsize was the biggest reason that we did not catch it....when people try to catch a lizard with a jacket around their hands to protect their fingers, don't count on catching it...

 

 

That night we rented us a appartment with a good shower, after the shower sessions were done we went to a restaurant and finally had some reall food, donuts, chips and cola does not make you stronger....

 

After diner we went to a beach area with Mediterranean Chameleons, we soon found many juveniles, there was even one who was walking over the track, probably disturbed by other people, because you will find them only sleeping when it is dark, we also found around 5 adults, we tried to disturb them as less as possible, I know I hate it if somebody wakes me up...


May 19th, Sierra Espuña and a bit of driving..


After a good breakfast we drove towards the Sierra Espuña, here we hoped to find Southern Midwife Toads, we found many tadpoles, but unfortunatly no adults, we visited very nice places here, it was very dry, there were no rivers, so we had to look at man made water places, other species found here were Iberian Wall Lizard, Viperine Snake, Iberian Water Frog and Bedriaga’s Skink.

 

From here we went to a lake, we made a stop and found Edwards's Psammodromus, at the lake we found many Viperine Snakes and Iberian Water Frogs again, Bedriaga's Skink and a juvenile Occelated Lizard.

 

Because Bobby and I had to fly back home the next day and we were still almost 1000 km away from the airport, we decided to drive a big part back in the direction of Barcelona.

This drive turned out to be a very long one (again), at Peñiscola we looked for a place to sleep, but found many Common Midwife Toads ssp pertinax and a beautiful Natterjack Toad.

 

Around 06:00 in the morning I finally found my hammock and slept like a baby.


May 20th, the last day.


In the morning it was not raining any more, I woke up by the sound of many people talking, from our perfect hammock position we saw groups of hikers walking into the hills, they looked kind of strange at our hammocks.

 

Last night other things happened as well, at a stop next to the highway we heard many ampibians calling from a pond close by, I climbed over the fence to check it out, I found Moorish Gecko, Iberian Water Frog and Common Toad, but the edge of the pond was slippery and I fell in, it was too deep to hold my camera above the water, so everything went under...

The camera never worked again and my 105mm AFS micronikkor works only manually now.

 

We did one last stop in the Hills of Alcanar, here we found a very 'ugly' Horseshoe Whip Snake and Common Midwife Toad tadpoles.

When we came down from that hill, rain started and not a mild shower, we were wet totally within seconds.

 

The roads there had also some interesting creatures, there were women in very different shapes and colors, local Spanish, from Eastern Europe and the more tropical flavours...they all seemed very interested in counting cars...or they were prostitutes, I m not sure......no need to say that somebody tried to make photos of these girls...

 

After this adventure (nobody felt the need to use their services) we drove to a train station in Tarragona to drop off Wouter and Philip, while we did that the weather turned very bad, but that was ok, I really could use a free shower after my swim in that dirty pond last night.

 

Close to the airport Bobby and I visited a wetland area and saw Red-eared Sliders, a Viperine Snake, Catalonian Wall Lizards and Green Frog species.

 

In the airplane we met 3 nice ladies, one of them was so kind to lend me her phone (my phone didn't survive the swim..) when we arrived back in the Netherlands to call a cab, thanks for that Sabrina!

 

Conclusion

Short trip.....more then 2000 km's driven, maybe a little bit too much in such a short period of time, but if I look at the things we saw, it was all worth it, and with only 88 euros  spend on speeding tickets..

 

The company was excellent, no time was wasted, nobody complained about the lack of rest, good food and a reall bed, thats how I like it, but if you need a whole week to recover from a short herping trip....

 

Frank, Wouter, Philip and Bobby, thanks amigos, see you next time!!


Observed Species

 

 

1.  Montseny Brook Newt - Calotriton arnoldi

2.  Northern Banded Newt - Ommatotriton ophryticus
3.  Fire Salamander - Salamandra salamandra
4.  Southern Midwife Toad - Alytes dickhilleni
5.  Common Midwife Toad - Alytes obstetricans ssp almogavari & pertinax
6.  Common Toad - Bufo bufo
7.  Natterjack Toad - Bufo calamita
8.  Stripeless Tree Frog - Hyla meridionalis
9.  Parsley Frog - Pelodytes punctatus
10. Iberian Water Frog - Pelophylax perezi
11. Red-eared Slider - Trachemys scripta elegans
12. Slow Worm - Anguis fragilis
13. Turkish Gecko -Hemidactylus turcicus
14. Moorish Gecko - Tarentola mauritanica
15. Mediterranean Chameleon - Chamaeleo chamaeleon
16. Bedriaga’s Skink - Chalcides bedriagai cobosi
17. Spiny-footed Lizard - Acanthodactylus erythrurus

18. Catalonian Wall Lizard - Podarcis liolepis

19. Iberian Wall Lizard (s.s.) - Podarcis hispanicis (s.s)

20. Algerian Psammodromus - Psammdromus algirus

21. Edward's Psammodromus - Psammodromus edwarsianus
22. Sierra Nevada Ocellated Lizard -Timon nevadensis

23. Iberian Worm Lizard - Blanus cinereus
24. Horseshoe Whip Snake - Hemorrhois hippocrepis

25. Southern Smooth Snake - Coronella girondica (dead)

26. Iberian False Smooth Snake - Macroprotodon brevis
27. Viperine Snake - Natrix maura