Sierra de Gredos, April 2011

Visited places
Visited places

9 - 15 April, a herpetological trip to the Sierra de Gredos & Sierra de Guadarrama, (Spain)




Unless stated otherwise.




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Spring, lets go somewhere.....after a long period of thinking(3minutes) I decided to fly to Madrid and visit the beautifull Sierra de Gredos, Peña de Francia and Sierra de Guadarrama, leaving on the 9th of april I started with 3.5 hours of delay, in Madrid I visited a super market to buy some food and a gas canister for my cookers, not able to find the right ones I ended up with eating bread & tuna and drinking water for almost the whole week.

After the supermarket I struggeled a little to get of those nasty highways around Madrid, so in the early evening I reached the South Eastern side of the Sierra de Gredos.


At last light I found a good place for my tent and went to sleep.

The next morning I looked around in my "back garden" and found Moorish gecko and Algerian Psammodromus.



From the place I slept I drove on the south side of Gredos, I found a concrete watertank with Common Toad, Iberian Water Frog and Bosca's Newt, next to it were large Moorish Gecko's in a ruin.

Next I drove towards Puerto de Mijares, a beautifull mountain pass, alt 1577 meter, lots of Iberian Wall Lizards and a male and a female of Schreiber's Green Lizard.


At the end of the day I arrived at Embalse de riocuevas, a lake close to Arenas de San Pedro, in the water I saw a large Viperine Snake (80cm).

The place a put down my tent was 200 meters from the lake, next to some tiny ponds, I only saw few Iberian Water Frogs, but when the night came at least 5 Stripeless Tree Frogs kept me awake!

In the morning I drove to Embalse de Navalcan, here I found Sharp-ribbed Newt adults and larvae, on the way towards Candeleda I stopped at a place next to the Tietar river, species that were seen here: Moorish Gecko, Natterjack Toad, Iberian Water Frogs, Viperine Snakes and Moorish Terrapin.


From Candeleda, where they have female police officers who look quite alright.....I took a dirt road into the Gredos mountains, besides the beautiful scenery, Iberian Wall Lizards and an Iberian Worm Lizard were found there.


Because I wanted to visit laguna Grande the next morning I already drove to the North side of the Sierra de Gredos, at La Plataforma de Gredos I saw some Iberian Wall Lizards again and a juvenile Algerian Psammodromus.


I found a very cool place to put down my tent, it was at 1450 meters altitude, so the temperature at night was according to my car: minus 5' Celcius.



After waking up the first thing I did was start the car and put the heater on max. The tent was covered with a layer of ice, so I tried to shake most of it off and went to the parking at La Plataforma, befor I went up in the mountains I treated myself on a quality breakfast, tuna, bread and water, the only bottle without ice, because I kept it in my sleeping bag.


I wanted to go all the way to Laguna Grande, but there was still a lot of snow, I saw a male Schreiber's Green Lizard, but it did not wait for me to make a good photo.


When I came to the point where I had eyes on Laguna Grande, I had already walked 30% trough the snow and there was no visable trail anymore.


I decided to walk back and wait for the Cyren’s Rock Lizards that I saw earlier to come out of their hiding places again. The sun was stronger now and one of the males was very relaxed with the big black camera coming very close.

On the way back to the car I tried to get close to the Gredos Ibex groups, the males are impressive with their almost 1 meter long horns. This was a very cool experience!



After walking almost to the Laguna Grande in Sierra de Gredos I drove almost in one time to Peña de Francia, at the only stop I did I found a couple of Algerian Psammodromus, they both had a very light color.


I arrived at Peña de Francia around 19.00, the sun was already spreading softer light, I found 2 Peña de Francia Rock Lizards in one hour and yes I feel lucky.


On the way down from the mountain I almost drove over a Red Fox and when I looked behind me, the fox was still on the road, car in reverse and when I came closer the fox came towards me, my chocolat donuts turned out to be great fox-food...


From Peña de Francia I drove back to Candeleda and slept next to the Tietar river.

Meanwhile I had contact with my brother to check my email, he send me the information I got from Rubén Martinez and Gabriel Martinez, thanks them I managed to find more then I already did.   Thanks guys!!


This day I checked out some ponds on the south side of the Sierra de Gredos, many species were seen: Iberian worm Lizard, Moorish Terrapin, Viperine Snake, Grass Snake, Iberian Tree Frog, Stripeless Treefrog, Western Spadefoot Toad tadpoles, Iberian Stream Frog, Iberian Water Frog, Common Toad, Natterjack Toad, Bosca's Newt, Southern Marbled Newt and a Fire salamander larvae.


At the place where the Grass Snake and Iberian Stream Frog were found I had to go through a group of goats with a big dog guiding them, 2 of those goats followed me around for a while, the big dog did not like it at all, saying goodbye was very hard...


In the evening I went to a restaurant, so I had a good meal for once!


My tent was close to the ponds, so I fell asleep with the lovely call of Iberian Treefrogs...


Thursday morning, this day I drove towards Segovia to meet with Rubén, underway I looked around a little, but without mentionable results, from 17.00 we drove to a place with possible Lataste’s Viper, while we walked up there we saw Algerian Psammodromus, Occelated Lizard, Iberian Wall Lizards and a dead Ladder Snake.


We arrived around 19.30 and found no vipers, but the area looked very good for them so I decided to return in the morning.


Later that evening (after 2 ice cold beers and very nice cheese) Rubén and I met with Honorio Iglesias García.

He knew good places for Iberian Midwife Toad, Western Spadefoot Toad, Iberian Painted Frog, Viperine Snake and Sharp-ribbed Newt.


But unfortunatly no frogs and toads were around because of the hot dry weather of the last weeks, we did see several Viperine Snakes, Sharp-ribbed Newts and Iberian Water Frogs.
We did not see much but I had a great time, thanks Honorio!


That night I slept on the couch at Rubén's place, the next morning I woke up from some strange noises... I got out of bed, had some breakfast and left.


I arrived pretty early in the Lataste's Viper habitat, I didnt have much time so I ran up the hill, found one straight away and hoped to find more, but I didnt, a large Montpellier Snake escaped, but I was still in a hurry so no time to wait for the snake to come out, so I ran down again and drove to the airport........


A trip where I did most of the searching alone and without knowledge of locations, I did find many species this way, but after the help of Rubén Martinez, Gabriel Martinez and Honorio Iglesias García I found many more, so thanks a lot, my friends!


The drought was a big reason that some amphibian species were not seen, this is a very good reason to visit this area again. 

Observed species



1.  Common Toad - Bufo bufo
2.  Natterjack Toad - Bufo calamita
3.  Iberian Tree Frog - Hyla molleri
4.  Stripeless Tree Frog - Hyla meridionalis
5.  Bosca's Newt - Lissotriton boscai
6.  Western Spadefoot Toad - Pelobates cultripes (tadpole)
7.  Iberian Water Frog - Pelophylax perezi
8.  Sharp-ribbed Newt - Pleurodeles waltl
9.  Iberian Stream Frog - Rana Iberica
10. Fire Salamander - Salamandra salamandra bejarae(larvae)
11. Southern Marbled Newt - Triturus pygmaeus
12. Iberian Worm Lizard - Blanus cinereus
13. Cyren’s Rock Lizard - Iberolacerta cyreni castiliana

14. Peña de Francia Rock Lizard - Iberolacerta martinezricai
15. Schreiber's Green Lizard - Lacerta schreiberi
16. Montpellier Snake - Malpolon monspessulanus

17. Moorish Terrapin - Mauremys leprosa
18. Viperine Snake - Natrix maura
19. Grass Snake - Natrix natrix astreptophora
20. Iberian Wall Lizard - Podarcis hispanicus morphotype 1

21. Algerian Psammdromus - Psammodromus algirus
---. Ladder Snake - Rhinechis scalaris (dead)
22. Moorish Gecko - Tarentola mauritanica
23. Occelated Lizard - Timon Lepidus
24. Lataste's Viper - Vipera latastei