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Together with Cynthia I went to Spain, we stayed in a little village called Espirdo, it was close to the city Segovia and Sierra de Guadarrama.
My good friend Rubén Martinez, who lived in Espirdo at that time, found us a nice place to stay where they made their diners only from local products, we arrived at Madrid airport later in the evening and visited a couple of famous amphibian ponds north of Madrid first, we only found Iberian Water Frogs and a juvenile Sharp-ribbed Newt there.
When we arrived at "La Casona de Espirdo" we were treated on a good diner with some nice red wine, only a little of course...just after diner Rubén walked in we had an extra drink.
It was around midnight when I did a quick search at a pond close to Espirdo, this pond was full of big carp, but still I found 2 Marbled Newts walking around, in the water were some Iberian Water Frogs again.
In the early morning we looked around close to Espirdo and later we went to 'Los Montes de Valsain' this an area on the North side of the Sierra de Guadarrama with a big variety of species.
Honorio Iglesias García was the person who introduced me to this area, he has a website about 'Los Montes de Valsain', it is in Spanish, if you don't know how to read that, the photos speak for themselves.
In april I saw a lot of Occelated lizards, Iberian Wall Lizards, a big Montpellier Snake, a Lataste's Viper and a dead Ladder Snake, now we only saw few Iberian Wall Lizards and a lot of black cows, according to Rubén they attack people, but of course I didn't think so untill one big black mean meatmachine blocked our way when we were on the way back, it really showed some agressive behavior, so we had to hide several times behind bushes.......we survived!
Next stop was a good spot for Spiny-footed Lizard, I found a juvenile pretty fast, but a big dog was around and chased us away...
We drove back to Espirdo and picked up Rubén, he know some nice places in the area, but first we needed some food, in Cabañas de Polendos Rubén knew a great place, lots and lots of food and 1 litre of red wine for 3 persons, total around 26 €.
Close to Espirdo we visited a village where a small stream came through, everything was very dry, but in the valley it was very green.
We saw some Iberian Water Frogs and I jumped after a Grass Snake, I was not fast enough...the mud I jumped in had the quality to let my shoes smell bad for at least half a year...
We had diner in La Casona de Espirdo and after it we went into the Sierra de Guadarrama, from Puerto de Cotos we hiked in the direction of Peñalara, this is the highest mountain peak in the Sierra de Guadarrama.
Halfway Rubén spotted a juvenile Smooth Snake on the track and in the little places with water we saw some Fire Salamander larvae, a bit higher up we came at a plateau with several ponds, here I found (only)1 adult Fire Salamander and a very large Iberian Water Frog, the ponds were full with Alpine Newts, Marbled Newts and Fire Salamander larvae.
On the way back we found some Iberian Stream Frogs and tadpoles of Common Midwife Toad, this was a very cool place!
We arrived in Espirdo just after midnight.
After a good night and a perfect breakfast we picked up Rubén and headed in the direction of Candeleda, this is a very nice village on the south side of the Sierra de Gredos, this was a long drive, so we visited 2 spots which were on the way towards Candeleda.
First close to El Espinar and the second one was close to San Juan de la Nava, both places were really dry and we did not see much except a striped Iberian Wall Lizard.
Close to Candeleda we went to the Tietar river, the water here was a lot lower then in april, lots of juvenile Iberian Water Frogs were around.
Rubén had some good friends who live in Candeleda and they invited us for diner, Javier, Eva and their son Mateo had a nice house in the center of Candeleda, Javier made diner and we went with Eva to a local Bar to have a drink, unfortunatly I did not see the female cop I saw here in april.
When we came back Javier was almost ready with diner, so I looked around in their garden and found a juvenile Moorish Gecko, diner was very nice!
Javier & Eva invited us to sleep there that night, so we did that.
In the morning we said goodbye to Javier, Eva & Mateo after a nice breakfast.
Thanks for everything, we had a great time meeting you both and really enjoyed the nice diner and your hospitality!!
In the morning we visited some ponds north of Candeleda, we found Iberian Tree Frogs straight away at one of the ponds I already visited in April.
Other ponds were dry now.
The next thing we did was going to La Plataforma de Gredos, where we hiked in the direction of Laguna Grande, the weather was not as pretty as it was in the morning on the south side of the mountains, the temperature was much lower, we didnt see any Cyren’s Rock Lizards here, but we did see an Iberian Stream Frog in the stream we crossed.
After we returned from this beautiful area, we drove back to Espirdo, close to Segovia we had diner in a restaurant that had the meat from the manhunting black cows that we saw in that area, it was really good, Rubén ordered also some local mushroom things which were also very good...
After returning to Espirdo, Cynthia went to sleep and I went with Rubén to a drinking place for cattle, but we did not see much, I also visited the spot were the Grass Snake escaped earlier, but only Iberian Water Frogs here.
On the way back to Espirdo I found a big Natterjack Toad on the road!
The last day of this trip we went into the center of Segovia and did some shopping, high heel boots for Cynthia and some presents for the kids, Segovia is a nice city, not too busy, easy to reach and most important, easy to get out of...
Before we went to the airport we visited the Spiny-footed Lizard spot again, because the first time we only saw one juvenile and were chased away by the big dog, this time I saw many juveniles and an Algerian Psammodromus.
Our way to the airport was through the Sierra de Guadarrama and on the highest point we had something to eat, I ate as fast as possible and looked around a bit for Cyren’s Rock Lizards, I found a juvenile and an adult.
From here we drove straight to the airport and went back home.
A trip were I hoped to see the amphibian species I missed in april, but because it had not been raining since march it was very dry.
That doesn't mean that it wasn't a succes, we both enjoyed it a lot, we had great company from Rubén Martinez and met some great people. Unfortunatly Honorio was far away for a wedding.
Thanks again Javier & Eva for your hospitality, thanks Rubén Martinez, Gabriel Martinez, Honorio Iglesias García and Jeroen Speybroeck for your information!
1. Common Midwife Toad - Alytes obstetricans (tadpoles)
2. Natterjack Toad - Bufo calamita
3. Iberian Tree Frog - Hyla molleri
4. Iberian Water Frog - Pelophylax perezi
5. Sharp-ribbed Newt - Pleurodeles waltl
6. Iberian Stream Frog - Rana Iberica
7. Fire Salamander - Salamandra salamandra almanzoris
8. Marbled Newt - Triturus marmoratus
9. Alpine Newt - Ichthyosaura alpestris cyreni
10. Spiny-footed Lizard - Acanthodactylus erythrurus
11. Cyren’s Rock Lizard - Iberolacerta cyreni cyreni
12. Moorish Gecko - Tarentola mauritanica
13. Iberian Wall Lizard - Podarcis hispanicus morphotype 1
14. Algerian Psammdromus - Psammodromus algirus
15. Smooth Snake - Coronella austriaca
16. Grass Snake - Natrix natrix astreptophora