© All CONTENT & PHOTOGRAPHS G.J. VERSPUI 2014 ©
Unless stated otherwise.
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All Lizard photo's are made 'In Situ', unless mentioned otherwise
This year we rented a camper which was able to get us anywhere, we had a perfect time with this big 4x4 camper, if you also would like to hire this for a day, or much longer, take a look on their website: www.steel-brothers.nl
On Friday the 18th of July I picked up our 4x4 camper together with the other members of the herping team, my son Siem (4) and daughter Elin (6). This herping team was useless without the support-group: Cynthia, the other members call her mama.
When we got home we packed way too much and tried to sleep a little bit.
July 19th, drive, drive, drive..
We woke up at 03:40 and 25 minutes later we started the long drive towards the Pyrenees, during that day we lost almost 2 hours because of traffic jams and more then 100€ because those French motorways are not for free, damn peage..
Halfway we had a stop for food and stretching exercises, maybe it was a coincidence that this was next to a railroad, I looked around a bit with my doughter Elin and we found Common Wall Lizards, Western Green Lizards a fast Western Whip Snake and a caterpillar of the Giant Peacock Moth.
The rest of the day was boring, painfull and exhausting, 1333 km in a Defender is not the best way to arrive fresh.
Around 22:00 we arrived in the Pyrenees, it was getting dark so me and Elin searched a bit along a little mountain stream, it didn't take long before the first herps were seen, a tiny Pyrenean Stream Frog jumped itself into safety, but Fire Salamanders, Common Toads and Pyrenean Brook Newts were found and photographed, we also heard Common Midwife Toads calling, but we could not find them.
July 20th, rain, rain and some vipers
At night it was raining, but in the early morning it was dry with a bit of sun, we searched a bit more around the stream and now I found a magic stone, when I flipped it I saw 2 Common Midwife Toads, a fat Fire Salamander, a Palmate Newt and a small Pyrenean Stream Frog.
After breakfast we moved to an other area 6 km further, but the rain started and did not stop for a long time, so we played some games in the car, 4 in a row and rummikub...but this also bores after 4 hours, so me and the kids practiced some arm-bar and choke techniques..
Around 15:00 the sky cleared up a bit, so I went outside with Elin and we used my mountainbike to cycle up the mountain to a place to look for Seoane's Vipers, I locked my bike and we walked towards a spot where I saw them before.
The rain was gone for only 5 minutes, but I saw 2 Seoanei's Vipers straight away, one moved away and the other stayed for some photos, a beautiful melanistic one!
The 1.5 hour dry weather with even short periods of sun was perfect, we saw 12 vipers, 4 of them melanistic, even Elin spotted a juvenile, the ugly one with big bite marks.
Good times end quickly, so the rain started again and we went back to the camper.
July 21st, rain again
Rain again, after breakfast we checked the viper place again and we saw 2 vipers, one of them was not seen yesterday.
We drove out of the Pyrenees into Spain where the weather was more friendly, the rest of the day was filled with driving and some tourist crap.
In the morning we checked out the famous waterbak and found Palmate Newts, Alpine Newts, many Midwife Toad tadpoles, a Western Green Lizard and some larvae of Fire Salamander and Marbled Newt.
It was still very early so we went to a place where we found Lataste's Viper 2 years ago, this time we were not so lucky, Iberian Water Frogs, larvae of Marbled Newt, Iberian Three-toed Skink and some Western Green Lizards.
The afternoon was spend in a small town with some goodlooking rock formations around it, Orbaneja del Castillo, this place was hinted by Bobby and Laura who visited this place in 2013. The ice
creams were great there, thanks mate!
In the late afternoon we drove a bit closer to the Picos de Europa and found ourselves a campsite, the first one of this trip, so the camera batteries were charged again and some of us enjoyed a shower.. I just stayed dirty.
July 23rd, Picos de Europa
In the morning we drove to Fuente De, here we relaxed a bit, that means looking for Seoane's Vipers for me and really relaxing for the support team and our children.
So I was looking around and found many Common Wall Lizards and 1 big fat female viper that was partly in the sun, what a great start of the day!
The afternoon was spend in the Tendi valley, here Elin and I searched for Golden-striped Salamanders, we found many larvae, juveniles and sub-adults, the adults were not seen, a bit more south the full team searched for Fire Salamanders and we found 6 of them, 1 Golden-striped Salamander again and 2 Slow Worms.
The late afternoon was spend up in the mountains at Lago Ecrina, we had dinner here and slept on one of the big parkings at Covadonga.
July 24th, beach time.
We drove towards the coast, the weather was strange for this area: the sun was shining again, I only had rain here at previous visits, we went to Playa de las cuevas del Mar. Very nice beach with some top-rope climbing possibillities on the rocks, to keep myself mentally healthy I ate 6 icecreams and still I did not manage to be on a beach the whole day, so I grabbed my mountainbike and explored the area.
In the evening we went back into the Picos de Europa to be ready the next morning for some viper searching.
I woke up from the sun in my face, so I made breakfast and searched at an altitude of 1700m, within minutes I found 2 Slow Worms which were already tanning in the sun, in the 2 hours after this I only saw some Grass Frogs and Viviparous Lizards, so I decided to walk back to our camper and eat and drink something.
25 meters from the camper I spotted a Seoane's Viper in a bush, I made 2 photos and it was gone, after some food I checked the place again several times, but the viper stayed away.
I continued the search and found a second viper and an Iberian Tree Frog.
In the afternoon we enjoyed the Picos some more and in the evening we drove to Lago Sanabria.
Goede Morgen, waking up at Laguna de los Peces is great, I had something to eat and took my mountainbike to find me a big Galan's Rock Lizard family, this species feels like a new seen species for me because we were at exact the same place in early may 2012 and there was only snow here that time, at a little village close by I only found 1 juvenile...So now it was time for some more Galan's Rock LIzards.
At the first rock formation I checked I found a male, it was an handsome feller, but along a stream I found an other male which was stunning, other species seen there were Iberian Stream Frog, Iberian Water Frog and a pretty Iberian Wall Lizard type 1.
90 min later I returned to the camper and with the whole family we went down again, the kids catching frogs and trying to catch the lizards next to the path, I photographed some more lizards and saw a Viperine Snake.
Later that day at a lower altitude we saw some Schreiber's Green Lizards.
Later in the afternoon we arrived on a campsite in Boticas, the north of Portugal, with a big swimmingpool next to it, so first some conditioning of my daughters swimming lessons and after that with some champagne into the bubble bath with the local bikini-model-dancers.
Many Iberian Wall Lizards were running around on the campsite so after dinner Elin and I searched a bit around the campsite, we found Schreiber's Green Lizards, Bedriaga's Skinks and Elin spotted a white lizard, it turned out to be a very dirty Algerian Psammodromus.
After breakfast we left the campsite in Boticas and headed for Penede Geres National Park, we drove through the town Geres with an ice-cream pushed in our mouths, this road north was a nice road, we stopped a few times to look around, the part of the last 4 km in portugal untill the border were a sort of forbidden area, all the old parkingspots for cars were closed with big rocks, so no stopping..
In Spain we stopped at a place, I looked around and we had something to eat, an hour later we moved on in the direction of Castro Laboreira, in 2006 we were also here and I found a melanistic Seoane's Viper, this time I searched in the late afternoon at a place that Frank D. gave to me, I hoped to find many vipers, but next to the expected species like Occelated Lizard, Schreiber's Green Lizard, Bocage's Wall Lizard, Iberian Wall Lizard and Iberian Stream Frog I found 1 big snake.
It was a fast Western Montpellier Snake and it went into a stone wall, but it came out on the other side and for the first time ever the box-jump exercises payed off, I jumped over the wall and wrestled a little with this 1,35m beast. It was an horrible animal to photograph, it kept moving all the time, my doughter helped me and asked me if she could hold the snake for a while, I looked surprised, but the snake didn't even bite once during photography, so I told her how to hold it and her first real trophy-snake picture was taken.
We slept that night at a picnic area in Castro Laboreira, a good area with lots of lizards, horses and cows..
In the early morning I searched around the picnic area and found a beautiful black Iberian Three-toed Skink, it was over 40 cm in lenght, but almost impossible to photograph, so I tried to catch it, at attempt nr 15 I succeeded!
Now fast to some areas which look good for Seoane's Vipers, I searched at several places, but it was very hot, so I gave up, then I saw a beautiful (but dead) viper on the road, I parked the car and 2 minutes later I found a Seoane's Viper! I was very happy!
The rest of the day was used to look around (nonherpwise) in the area some more and in the evening we drove south towards the Serra da Estrela where we slept at Torre.
We woke up, had breakfast and me and the team went searching for lizards, we found Iberian Wall Lizards and Iberian Rock Lizards, but only one male was seen, Siem tried to do some rock climbing there and learned the hard way that the human face is not harder then rocks.
We drove towards Manteigas and found a great campsite next to a big lake, here we stayed 2 nights, close to the lake Elin and I found some water and rocks and searched for frogs and lizards, first only Iberian Water Frogs and Iberian Wall Lizards, but when the sun was losing some strenght Elin spotted the first Viperine Snake in the Water, I grabbed it for her and then the Schreiber's Green Lizards and Occelated Lizards were also getting more active, while I was stalking a Occelated Lizard I found a Viperine Snake almost crawling over my hands and a little bit later a Iberian Wall lizard just ran by really close, but there was someting behind it.....
A juvenile Lataste's Viper was chasing the lizard, with little sticks and my flipflop I managed to grab the little beauty.
We went back to the campsite and had dinner, after that I returned and found some Occelated Lizards and Schreiber's Green Lizards basking in the last sunlight, I also found an other Lataste's Viper and was very lucky, I photographed it In Situ.
When the sun was gone Common Midwife Toads were calling and 2 students were setting up a big net above the water to catch bats, they were doing research on what bat-species were living there.
Damn, 2 Lataste's Vipers, what an unexpected luck, I fell asleep with a big smile on my face!
Goodmorning, Cynthia and the kids went to the lake and I tried to find some more Iberian Rock Lizards, I asked Peter O. where to look for handsome males and this time I found many of them, so now back to the campsite for some swimming and icecreams. Thanks Peter!
Meanwhile at the lake, Siem saw a Viperine Snake in the water and grabbed it. Elin caught an Iberian Wall Lizard, so a lot of stories..... and some new rules on grabbing snakes..
This day we wanted to visit Peniche & Lissabon, from the campsite we drove over the highest parts of Serra da Estrela in the direction of Lissabon, on the way down I saw a dead snake on the road, it was a 30 cm grey Ladder Snake (Rhinechis scalaris), I should have taken a photo, I never saw them before in this color.
The weather was good, but when we came closer to the coast it became darker with some showers and a strong wind.
Peniche was first, no rain, but very cloudy with a lot of wind, me and Elin searched on the rocky shores with some vegatation and found some lizards in the wind free areas, when we did a bigger walk on a small peninsula I spotted a snake and dived on it, it was a Western Montpellier Snake, just over a meter in lenght and very handy with its mouth...after some team trophy pics we released it again, when we walked back to the camper the sun came out just a little and I found 4 Carbonell's Wall Lizards pretty easy.
Cynthia wanted to do some shopping so I dropped her off at a supermarche on the edge of the old town of Peniche, the girls went shopping and Siem and I checked out the old walls of the town and found several Iberian Wall Lizards type 2.
Next stop was in the harbour of Lissabon, next to a busy railroad was the habitat of a population Madeira Wall Lizards, unfortunatly the clouds were back again and so was the wind, I only spotted 3 lizards, but that is better then nothing...this was the first new seen species of this trip, 3 more to go!!
After dinner we did some driving into the direction of the next area we wanted to visit.
Finally a visit to Sierra de Cazorla, with Spanish Algyroides as the last species on the Iberian mainland that I did not see, I found out that finding them in the summer is not very easy, at most at the known spots I found only some juvenile Iberian Wall Lizards type2 and an Algerian Psammodromus, at one spot I found a juvenile and at a spot where we had bread with knakworstjes I found one adult on a little bridge.
Swimming and icecreams were again the ingredients for a good afternoon, the late afternoon we drove towards Les Pontones where we took a dirtroad over the higher parts of the Sierra de Segura, at some waterpoints we stopped and we found Fire Salamander larvae (ssp morenica) and I flipped a grey Occelated Lizard, we spend the night at that spot.
The sun woke me up and I went outside to see if any reptiles would be active, an hour later I spotted an other Occelated Lizard and I went back to the camper where I noticed that my son was doing some things that I did not teach him...
After breakfast we drove further over the beautifull higher parts of the Sierra de Segura with some stops here and there, for example to look for a frog that jumped into a hole..
At the end we drove down into the Guadalquivir valley, here we found a Viperine Snake and close to Pozo Alcon we saw a concrete water basin, with inside lots of Southern Midwife Toad tadpoles and juveniles of different sizes that just lost their tail, some were 3-4 cm big, while others were only 1.5 - 2cm, inside the water basin was also a Grass Snake swimming around and on the other side of the road I saw some juvenile Iberian Wall Lizards.
The toads were photographed pretty fast, but the horrible Grass Snake kept pretending it was dead, it took me an hour to get some photos that were reasonable.
We moved on to a place from Frank D, unfortunatly only Turkish Gecko in the empty swimmingpool. Good night.
Waking up next to a swimmingpool without water is not the best holiday feeling so we drove to the coast for a beach day, The water was a lot warmer then at the beach close to the Picos de Europa and next to the beach were some lizards running around, the Spiny-footed Lizards were seen in the morning and even at the hottest part of the day and when the sun was getting lower also some Edward's Psammodromus and one female Sierra Nevada Occelated Lizard were seen, the big one was gone very fast.....grrrr
After dinner we drove to a beach to look for some Mediterranean Chameleons, we searched with the team including the support group and found 2, Cynthia and Siem went back and Elin and I found 3 more within 10 minutes, so a perfect end of a great day!
After some hardcore driving (again..) we arrived in the eastern Spanish Pyrenees, here we wanted to visit a plateau close to Berga, the roads towards this place were not good in 2012 and they were a lot worse now, but we took an even better route, farmer tracks which were not do-able with a normal car, the kids loved the steap bumby ride with lots of water here and there.
After 20.000 curves we arrived on the plateau and we visited 2 ponds, at the first we found Northern Banded Newt larvae and huge tadpoles of Common Midwife Toads and some adults, Elin found a juvenile Stripeless Tree Frog and I found a Parsley Frog of the same size.
Also some reptiles there, Catalonian Wall Lizards and a Viperine Snake.
At the second pond again some Common Midwife Toads, extreme large tadpoles of Iberian Water Frog and many Northern Banded Newt larvae, no adults were seen in the murky pond, but we did find some juveniles and a subadult on land.
After dinner when it became darker Elin and I walked to the other pond again and found 2 calling Stripeless Tree Frogs, we also heard several Common Midwife Toads calling, but we could not find them, on the way back Elin found a big Iberian Common Toad.
The next morning on the way down I saw a snake on the road, it was a barely moving Southern Smooth Snake, after a quick photo I made sure that there was no more suffering.
We drove from the plateau towards the French side of the Pyrenees, around Col de Puymorens we had some hours and lots of Common Wall Lizards were around, I also saw some Sand Lizards and Grass Frogs.
After a stop at a supermarket (where Siem and I saw a lot of Common Wall Lizards and a fast *gone before you know it* Western Whip Snake) we drove into a valley close to Vicdessos, it was clouded and around 16:30, but still I gave it a try, I grabbed my mountainbike and went uphill to visit a spot with Aurelio's Rock Lizards, it took me less then an hour to be at the location, but the clouds were getting darker and darker, so I only found some Grass Frogs, Pyrenean Brook Newts and enjoyed a splendid view.
I woke up and looked outside, I did not see any clouds, but that does not mean anything as I found out in 2011 when my second attempt failed when only the end of the valley was filled with rainy cloudes.
After a good breakfast I grabbed my mountainbike again and started my 4th attempt to find these lizards, with 55 minutes I was walking around in the habitat, the time was 09:45 and the area was in the sun for a long time already, I searched all over the place for 90 minutes and only saw little spiders.. I decided to cross the river to an other rocky area and half an hour later I spotted the first Aurelio's Rock Lizard, the next 20 minutes I found 7 more and I made some photo's which were ok, the lizards were very shy, but always came back at an other place closeby, so some patience was needed.
I found it strange that it took me 2 hours to find them, but was very happy with the result, I walked back to my mountainbike, photographed a Viviparous Lizard and 20 min later I was back at the camper where Elin had caught 2 adult Common Wall Lizards and Siem found a Fire Salamander larvae in the little stream, within 2 years they will find more then me, or they hate herping...
After the succes on the Aurelio's Rock Lizards I send a message to my cousin Mark to arrange a link up between us, we decided to meet on the beach in Valras plage and after that stay an other day with them on the campsite near the Gorges du Tarn.
On the way from the Pyrenees to Valras plage we stopped at a little river, here we found several juvenile Painted Frogs and that night we slept in the center of a little town close to Narbonne.
Around 10:30 we arrived at the beach at Valras Plage, not really a beach for us, because it is in the middle of that town and no nature closeby, but next to the beach we spotted some juvenile lizards, looked like Catalonian Wall Lizards..
At the beach we had a great day, with a good quantity of high quality mammals I forgot herping for almost the whole day...
Around 16:30 my skin was burned and I needed to do something else, so our route to the tarn was with a little detour because Graf's hybrid Frog was still sort of missing from my list...
North of Montpellier we found some individuals, Siem also spotted a well fed Viperine Snake, that was to heavy to escape the area, so it stayed where it was, after some pics we left it alone, the Siem spotted a Common Wall Lizard, in total we found 7 Viperine Snakes in 20 minutes. After dinner we drove towards the campsite, but the never ending winding roads made us stop and sleep on a beautiful higher plateau 25 km south of Millau.
Early in the morning we did some supermarket shopping and not much later we arrived at the campsite, there was a place free next to Mark and his family, so that was perfect, during the day Mark and I took the kids to a part of the river where they could play and catch fish and crayfish, I also saw some Common Wall Lizards there and found me a huge March Frog, it was almost a kilo in weight.
When Siem and I went back to the campsite we went through the river and we saw a Viperine Snake at the rivers edge just below our spot on the campsite.
I asked Mark if he had seen anything else, but only lizards and frogs, but next to his tent, or was it my car... I heard a snake moving away with him, when I checked the place later I saw an other Viperine Snake.
The rest of the day was great, good company, good food, with some fine red wine & beer..
Thanks Mark & Juul!
We stayed the morning on the campsite, Mark and his crew were already packing to go home so we left (we never need to pack..) and headed for Centre Tigouleix in the Creuse.
This is a comfortable place owned by Rob Veen & Claire, surrounded by nature, they have a campsite, some damn nice rooms and a nature lodge, they even prepare the best meals ever for you, if you have the time and you dont go herping the whole day.
8 years ago I was here for the first time and found many species, I found the highest location close to Croque with many Asp Vipers, since that time Rob calls that place "Het veldje van Verspui" (Verspui's field) and I noticed that the guests who were there all knew that place by name.
So very happy with my own famous field I did some herping there as well and found some nice species again. Together with Jiri and Eddy I searched for Adders close to the campsite....call it luck, but within 5 min I found one, in the hour after that we saw more then 5 Grass Snakes, Sand Lizards, Viviparous Lizards and some Common Wall Lizards, it was nice to go with you 2, thanks!
In a pond I did some net dipping with Elin & Siem and found many larvae of Alpine Newt that were almost the size of an adult, Crested Newt larvae and adults and Marbled Newt larvae and 1 adult female, also larvae of Palmate Newt in that pond, at an other place we saw a Yellow-bellied Toad, unfortunatly we had to move on, one short visit to "Het veldje van Verspui" and I found 5 Asp Vipers in 5 minutes, big fat lady asps.
After the Asp Vipers we had 1 night left on this trip, as fast as we could we drove to La Brenne, tried to find European Pond Terrapin and Common Tree Frogs, but no luck.
On the campsite Elin and I looked for Agile Frogs, we found many of them, some adults, but most of them juveniles, after dinner we needed some icecreams so we had a couple of them.
Then it became darker and Elin and I grabbed the flashlights and went outside, we saw many Natterjack Toads, 2 Iberian Common Toads, some Parsley Frogs and we heard Common Tree Frogs far away and found some of them after a long search.
Very late we went into bed.
Happy birthday to my sister and we used this day to drive home, we stayed till 10:30 on the campsite and then headed home, where we arrived around 23:00 and there was 1 Common Toad walking through our garden, what a great way to end this trip!
I am lucky that the kids are still very in to herping, this trip was one with too much driving that needed to be done.
On the other hand, we saw a lot of beautiful areas and had a good time at almost every spot, had 2 super days with family and met again with Rob Veen and Claire after 8 years on their beautiful
Thanks to Peter Oefinger, Frank Deschandol, Bobby Bok & Jeroen Speybroeck!
1. Fire Salamander - Salamandra salamandra ssp alfredschmidti, fastuosa & morenica
2. Golden-striped Salamander - Chioglossa lusitanica
3. Pyrenean Brook Newt - Calotriton asper
4. Palmate Newt - Lissotriton helveticus
5. Alpine Newt - Ichthyosaura alpestris cyreni
6. Marbled Newt - Triturus marmoratus
7. Great Crested Newt - Triturus cristatus
8. Northern Banded Newt - Ommatotriton ophryticus
9. Common Midwife Toad - Alytes obstetricans ssp obstetricans & almogavari
10. Southern Midwife Toad - Alytes dickhilleni
11. Painted Frog - Discoglossus pictus
12. Yellow-bellied Toad - Bombina variegata
13. Parsley Frog - Pelodytes punctatus
14. Common Toad - Bufo bufo
15. Iberian Common Toad - Bufo spinosus
16. Natterjack Toad - Epidalea calamita
17. Common Tree Frog - Hyla arborea
18. Stripeless Tree Frog - Hyla meridionalis
19. Iberian Tree Frog - Hyla molleri
20. Grass Frog - Rana temporaria
21. Pyrenean Stream Frog - Rana pyrenaica
22. Iberian Stream Frog - Rana iberica
23. Agile Frog - Rana dalmatina
24. Edible Frog - Pelophylax kl. esculentus
25. Graf's Hybrid Frog - Pelophylax kl. grafi
26. March Frog - Pelophylax ridibundus
27. Iberian Water Frog - Pelophylax perezi
28. Mediterranean Chameleon - Chamaeleo chamaeleon
29. Turkish Gecko - Hemidactylus turcicus
30. Moorish Gecko - Tarentola mauritanica
31. Spiny-footed Lizard - Acanthodactylus erythrurus
32. Algerian Psammodromus - Psammodromus algirus
33. Edward's Psammodromus - Psammodromus edwarsianus
34. Spanish Algyroides - Algyroides marchi
35. Western Green Lizard - Lacerta bilineata
36. Sand Lizard - Lacerta agilis ssp agilis & garzoni
37. Schreiber’s Green Lizard - Lacerta schreiberi
38. Ocellated Lizard - Timon lepidus
39. Sierra Nevada Occelated Lizard - Timon nevadensis
40. Aurelio's Rock Lizard - Iberolacerta aurelioi
41. Iberian Rock Lizard - Iberolacerta monticola monticola
42. Galan's Rock Lizard - Iberolacerta galani
43. Viviparous Lizard - Zootoca vivipara
44. Common Wall Lizard - Podarcis muralis
45. Catalonian Wall Lizard - Podarcis liolepis
46. Bocage’s Wall Lizard - Podarcis bocagei
47. Carbonell’s Wall Lizard - Podarcis carbonelli berlengensis
48. Iberian Wall Lizard - Podarcis guadarramae
49. Iberian Wall Lizard - Podarcis virescens
50. Madeira Wall Lizard - Teira dugesii
51. Bedriaga’s Skink - Chalcides bedriagai pistaciae
52. Iberian Tree-toed Skink - Chalcides striatus
53. Slow Worm - Anguis fragilis
---. Ladder Snake - Rhinechis scalaris (DOR)
54. Southern Smooth Snake - Coronella girondica
55. Grass Snake - Natrix natrix ssp helvetica & astreptophora
56. Viperine Snake - Natrix maura
57. Western Whip Snake - Hierophis viridiflavus
58. Western Montpellier Snake - Malpolon monspessulanus
59. Adder - Vipera berus
60. Asp Viper - Vipera aspis aspis
61. Lataste's Viper - Vipera latastei
62. Seoane’s Viper - Vipera seoanei ssp seoanei & cantabrica