North West Spain, April-May 2012


Visited places
Visited places

 

April 27th - May 6th a herpetological trip to the North West of Spain

 

 

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

Unless mentioned otherwise.

 

 

 

 

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April 27th, the long drive south

The 27th of april untill the 6th of may I went on a little roadtrip with Bert, Jan, Jeroen, Wouter and Bobby, we had some showers during the trip, no worries for us, because rain is just an other way of good weather....

 

In the early evening I picked up Bobby and Wouter at the train station of Dordrecht and drove to Jan's home, close to Antwerp, from here we went with a rented van to Jeroen's home where Jeroen and Bert were waiting.

Jan did the first driving part and I did the part after him, in the morning we arrived in Spain.

April 28th, rain, but succes

The first place we stopped we found a Common Wall Lizard.

The weather was not very good, a lot of rain, but still we managed to find lot's of herps, Bert found a Southern Smooth Snake so he was hero of the day. (my hero...)

 

In a village there were some man-made water places with a roof above it, so here were the first animals found while we did not feel rain.......Alpine Newts, Palmate Newts, Fire Salamander larvae and lots of Common Midwife Toad tadpoles.

 

That night after we had a fantastic meal and some beers(only a few) there were 3 guys who wanted to go outside, after telling the 4th(Bobby) that he would miss a great adventure, he changed his mind and went with us, the results were great, after the waterplace where we saw 5 Marbled Newts, we went into the woods behind it to look for Fire Salamanders, 2 guys were fast as lightning and Bobby and I lost sight of them within the first 2 minutes, even blowing the "poepfluit" did not help to find them.....

 

Bobby found a Fire Salamander ( intergrade between ssp fastuosa and bejarae) and the other team found one too.

April 29th, vipers and some rain

The next day I made a deal with the sun, follow our van.........I managed to meet with the first Iberian Tree Frog and it became very popular when I introduced it to the others..

 

Next stop was a good one, 3 Lataste's Vipers, Marbled Newts, Iberian Water Frogs, Western Green Lizard and Western Three-toed Skink were also found here

 

Only a short distance away Jan found an Asp Viper, so everybody was happy again...

 

We also visited a place where Asp Viper and Lataste's Viper both live, but we found no hybrids.


That night we arrived in the Picos de Europa and it was raining, but thats no surprise.....is it???

We saw a lot of Fire Salamanders (ssp bernardezi) and a big Grass Frog (ssp parvipalmata).

April 30th, Queens Day without rain

The next day we went higher into the picos and I loved the place, we even had very short periods of sunshine........

Alpine Newts were walking over the grass, Common Wall Lizards and Iberian Rock Lizards were around too.

 

The next place was a Marea Valley, we found some reasons to smile again...in this small valley Bert found the first Seoane’s Viper, some Fire Salamanders (ssp alfredschmidti) were also found and I found a tiny Iberian Stream Frog.

 

Tendi valley was the next stop, a great place, very very wet, but within a short period of time we found 2 Golden-striped Salamanders, Bosca’s Newt and lots of Fire Salamanders (ssp alfredschmidti).

 

Because it was Queens day, Bobby had his orange beak fixed to his face the whole day..

 

We slept that night in a cheap hotel next to the road, so no evening program.

 

May 1st, snow instead of rain....& surprises

Seoane’s Viper (ssp cantabrica) and Galan’s Rock Lizard were next...........but every time someone mentioned that viper, rain started to fall down again, so Galan’s Rock Lizard...... was not a great idea also.... The first Galan’s Rock Lizard spot was covered in snow, so after a smoking break we left again.

 
BUT, before we arrived at the second Galan’s Rock Lizard place we came by an area which seem to have potential for us, and this time the sun was with us..here we found Iberian Wall Lizards, Occelated Lizard, 2 Southern Smooth Snakes and a juvenile Ladder Snake.

 

At the second Galan’s Rock Lizard spot we did not see any of them, but a juvenile and an adult male of Schreiber's Green Lizard took the pain away for a little while.

 

That night we stayed in a nice hotel and because the pain was becoming worse again, we needed lots of beer...........(and some fool thought throwing spiritus in the beer was a good idea, I gave the plants some of that special beverage).

May 2nd, Beach day, only rain at night

The beer from last night was for free so we had no reasons to complain about the results of drinking 1 beer too many.

 

 

In the morning it did not look good for Galan’s Rock Lizard, but we went anyway........

......and found almost nothing again, Bocage’s Wall Lizard and 1 juvenile Galan’s Rock Lizard which I managed to dig out of a place which looked more like a garbage-dump.

 

Now it was time to go to the beach, the best place for us , because we are actually all very handsome beachboys.......on the beach which was located at the Galician west coast, were very hot models waiting for us.

 

Bedriaga’s Skink (ssp pistaciae), Occelated Lizards, Western Three-toed Skink and Bocage’s Wall Lizards were the beach models.

 

From the beach straight to a nice island, but first diner in a pizza joint, some guys had tears of joy.

 

On the island we saw Iberian Tree Frogs, Iberian Painted Frogs, Bosca's Newts and Marbled Newts, when we came back at the van it was raining really hard and the police wanted to know what we were doing, they looked kind of strange when we explained it.

 

The place we went next is a place with Fire Salamander (ssp gallaica), we went there straight after we visited the island, so 2 locations in one night, this is what we found: Fat Fire salamanders, Iberian Painted Frog, Bosca's Newts, Golden-striped Salamanders, Iberian Stream Frog and a Schreibers Green Lizard, which was dead. 

 

We were back at the hotel around 06.00, a bit tired.

May 3rd & 4th, bye bye Wouter & Pyrenees


May 3rd, this day we woke up later than normal because of our night adventures, first we went to a place with European Pond Terrapin, but only Wouter saw 2 of them, then he hid them somewhere and called us, we saw nothing.............


And because Wouter did that terrible egocentric thing, we left him somewhere to continue the trip on his own.......(maybe this part is a little different from the other reports..)

 

Ok, lets try to find Seoane’s Viper (ssp cantabrica) again, conditions were great....................for amphibians.........one moment we met the sun and got out of our van straight away, no vipers, only 2 Slow Worms....


That night we slept in a sort of truckers motel, which had some crazy guests, there were guys walking around pretending to be a pirate, including pirate-lemonade (brown Rum) and pirate noises.......(AAARRRGGGHHH)........., but other crazy local guests were smoking illegal drugs inside of the motel........

 

May 4th,
Next morning we were happy to leave that shithole, waved to the criminals.....(or took them with us....) and went to a viper place near Burgos, but did I mention before that we had some rain during the trip.............only an Occelated Lizard was doug out.

Next spot, Spanish Psammodromus was the target.......at first we searched while it was clouded and found Natterjack Toad, Occelated Lizard and Catalonian Wall Lizards.

 

When the sun finally came I saw 1, but it was gone very fast, we decided to stay and wait for the sun to show its strenght again, after a while I cought one with the help of Bert and Jan, Bobby also found one, I also found the 4th Southern Smooth Snake of the trip hidden in a dead tree.

 


The Pyrenees were the only thing between us and home, so we went there to have a good finale, good turned into great !

We found us a kind of luxery hotel and had a real diner for the first time.

After this quality food (quantity is a whole other story) we went to a place for Fire Salamander (ssp fastuosa), the numbers we saw were unbelievable, at the brook we saw one every 3 meters or so, Common Toads, Palmate Newt, Pyrenean Brook Newts and Common Frogs were also around.

 

The road towards this place was also the road that a badger used for escaping from our headlights.

We were back at the Hotel around 02:00.

 

May 5th, great last day

We slept well, after breakfast we went back to the area we were last night, here some people were too tired to do anything and others (Bert & me) looked for Seoane’s Viper, I found 3 of them, other species seen there were Palmate Newts, Common Toads, Common Wall Lizards and Viviparous Lizards.

 

Before we started the 1200 km drive home, we dicided to check out the magic Fuur Mander brook one more time....Jan found a Pyrenean Stream Frog within 10 minutes, so that was the last big succes of the trip.

 

We visited one more place, but only Common Wall Lizards and tjollers were seen.

 

The long drive home was over before we knew it...... We started driving around 14.00 from the Pyrenees and I jumped into my own bed around 07.00....what a trip!

Conclusion

 

A very wet week, but that did not effect anything, we still found 37 species, had a great time, this was mainly because of the team, 3 Belgian and 3 Dutch guys with a big 'Can Do' mentality.

We had 3 nights without herping, this was because of too much beer or a hotel which was locked, even if we would have searched those nights, I don't think that we would have been more succesful, then we were now.

Thanks guys, see you soon!


Observed Species

 

1.  Fire Salamander - Salamandra salamandra – ssp. bernardezi, alfredschmidti, gallaica, fastuosa & an intergrade bejarae/fastuosa
2.  Golden-striped Salamander - Chioglossa lusitanica

3.  Pyrenean Brook Newt - Calotriton asper
4.  Palmate Newt - Lissotriton helveticus
5.  Bosca’s Newt - Lissotriton boscai
6.  Alpine Newt - Ichthyosaura alpestris cyreni
7.  Marbled Newt - Triturus marmoratus
8.  Common Midwife Toad - Alytes obstetricans
9.  Iberian Painted Frog - Discoglossus galganoi
10. Natterjack Toad - Bufo calamita
11. Common Toad - Bufo bufo
12. Iberian Tree Frog - Hyla molleri
13. Iberian Stream Frog - Rana iberica
14. Pyrenean Stream Frog - Rana pyrenaica
15. Grass Frog Rana temporaria – ssp. temporaria & parvipalmata
16. Iberian Water Frog - Pelophylax perezi

17. European Pond Terrapin - Emys orbicularis fritzjuergenobsti, Wouter
18. Spanish Psammodromus - Psammodromus hispanicus

19. Common Wall Lizard - Podarcis muralis
20. Catalonian Wall Lizard - Podarcis liolepis
21. Iberian Wall Lizard - Podarcis hispanicus - morphotype 1A
22. Bocage’s Wall Lizard - Podarcis bocagei
23. Iberian Rock Lizard - Iberolacerta monticola cantabrica
24. Galan’s Rock Lizard - Iberolacerta galani
25. Western Green Lizard - Lacerta bilineata
26. Schreiber’s Green Lizard - Lacerta schreiberi
27. Ocellated Lizard - Timon lepidus ssp lepidus & ibericus
28. Viviparous Lizard - Zootoca vivipara louislantzi
29. Western Three-toed Skink - Chalcides striatus
30. Bedriaga’s Skink - Chalcides bedriagai pistaciae
31. Slow Worm - Anguis fragilis
32. Smooth Snake - Coronella austriaca
33. Southern Smooth Snake - Coronella girondica
34. Ladder Snake - Rhinechis scalaris
35. Seoane’s Viper - Vipera seoanei
36. Asp Viper - Vipera aspis
37. Lataste’s Viper - Vipera latastei