Herpetofauna of Europe : sw iberia - portugal & spain (december 2010)
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Herpetological trip to SW Iberia (Portugal, Spain)
17th - 24th of December 2010

Unless specified otherwise, all pictures (c) of Jeroen Speybroeck.
Make sure you also check out Bobby's report.

During a previous Andalucian trip, we were able to find most of the species of the region. However, as amphibian activity in this part of Europe booms in winter, we missed out on that in spring 2006. Therefore, I wanted to go back to the south of the Iberian Peninsula, visiting sites in southern Portugal and southwestern Spain.
The small crew consisted of Jan (B), Bobby (NL), Sander (NL) and me (B), while as a part of his larger trip Frank (F) was also a very valuable companion. In Portugal, we got help from amphibian researchers Mirjam and Onno (NL, but working and living in P), and did several sites together. Furthermore, we met very briefly with Wouter Beukema and his father Jan (NL) at Monchique.
Amphibian species were indeed out and about in impressive numbers. Apocalyptical volumes of rain, rain, rain certainly helped. As a consequence and more generally in view of the season, our reptile observations were limited. Yet, a few nice snakes were found. In total, we observed 23 species, while about 40 are known to inhabit the area we visited.
Many thanks to all travel companions, but also to Ronald Laan, Luis Garcia, Gabriel Martinez, Thomas Bader, André Van Hecke, Matthieu Berroneau, …


overview of prospected sites

December 17th - airplane trouble, followed by a very nice Portuguese start

While Sander, Bobby and Jan had a direct flight to Faro, I had a transit in Lisbon. However, my first flight was delayed due to snow and ice mayhem, so I lost my connection. Therefore, the others took up a 2-3 hours drive from Faro to Lisbon to pick me up. Never having seen Madeira Wall Lizard (Teira dugesii) before, Jan and Bobby wanted to benefit from this to check on the introduced population in the Lisbon harbour. Not too much activity, because of the lousy weather, but lifting a flat piece of concrete, I found about twenty piled up together, committing a mild form of the crime called winter flipping.
On to our stay at Vale da Telha (Aljezur) in the southwest of Portugal. There, we met with Frank, Mirjam and Onno. After dinner, we visited a very nice nearby temporary pond, finding already quite a nice number of species: Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi), Western Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes), Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita), Ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl), Southern Marbled Newt (Triturus pygmaeus), Iberian Newt (Lissotriton (boscai) maltzani) and a DOR Common Toad (Bufo bufo). Next, to a very shallow temporary pond with Iberian Water Frog (Pelophylax perezi) and our first Parsley Frog (Pelodytes sp. nov.). Already a nice catch, so we left it at that and went to sleep after a long day.


Bobby and Sander with some lizards


Madeira Wall Lizard (Teira dugesii)


Madeira Wall Lizard (Teira dugesii)


5 species catch near Vale da Telha - another 5 additional amphibian species were recorded at the same site


Western Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes)


Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi)


Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi)


our first Parsley Frog sp. (Pelodytes sp. nov.)


weird nocturnal creatures everywhere…

December 18th - Vila do Bispo and Carrapateira

First, one of the best temporary ponds near Vila do Bispo. Many of the same species again, in and around this beautiful swampy place in the woods. Also heard Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis).
Next, trying to find a good spot for midwife toads, did not really work out.
Then, to the Carrapateira dunes. Beautiful scenery and after a while at a pile of stones, our first snake - a juvenile Western Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus). Also Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica), Natterjack and a striped Painted Frog. Reaching a flat sandy area with some stones, Sander uncovered an Iberian False Smooth Snake (Macroprotodon brevis).
After dark, with more rain and higher temperatures, back to the Vila do Bispo hotspot pond. Many Pelodytes calling, many specimens of several species seen, including a “backpack” Common Toad couple.


juvenile Bosca’s Newt in terrestrial phase (Lissotriton (boscai) “maltzani”)


Dutch man likes swamp (1)


Dutch man likes swamp (2)


tiny Pelobates tadpoles


courtship of Bosca’s Newt (Lissotriton boscai)


Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita)


Western Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes)


rubber boot and spadefoot


broken back and natterjack


checking the catch with Onno, Mirjam and Frank

yes, it was a good catch…


see ? - note fire salamander larvae at this atypical site


Southern Marbled Newt (Triturus pygmaeus)


Jan, Onno, Mirjam, Frank, Bobby


Southern Marbled Newt (Triturus pygmaeus)


Bosca’s Newt (Lissotriton (boscai) “maltzani”)


Mirjam taking samples


some idiot spoiling my beautiful scenery shot at Carrapateira


site of first snake find


Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica)


juvenile Western Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)


Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita)


Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi)


Iberian False Smooth Snake (Macroprotodon brevis)


yet another new species for this happy boy


dark clouds and rain coming - Sander at Carrapateira


back at Vila do Bispo - amphibian nightlife in the rain


Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis)


big mommy Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi)


Sander and Bobby photographing Western Spadefoot


Western Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes)


Jan and Sander with Common Toad couple


Common Toad (Bufo bufo)


Common Toad (Bufo bufo)


Bobby hunting newts


Ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl)


Ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl)


Parsley Frog sp. (Pelodytes sp. nov.)


Parsley Frog sp. (Pelodytes sp. nov.)


Parsley Frog sp. (Pelodytes sp. nov.)

December 19th - no molleri, but crespoi and Alytes

Dry but a lot of wind, when we drove north, exploring some ponds near Almograve and Vila Nova de Milfontes, hoping to find Common Tree Frog (Hyla (arborea) molleri), which ended up to be the only amphibian species we could not find. Conditions were not optimal - too much wind for sitting on bramble leaves during the day. Under some stones and wood, Natterjack and Spadefoot at Almograve. At VN de M, unfortunately… Stripeless Tree Frog (seen but even calling during the day). Rather than hoping for more luck during the night, we saved this taxon for a future spring to the northwest of the peninsula.
Frank had already continued to Monchique last night to benefit from the rainy night. With success, as he found many Fire Salamanders (Salamandra salamandra crespoi). Here, we met very briefly with Wouter Beukema and his father, Jan who started a trip of there own here. Rather than staying with them, it was mainly my selfish strong desire to go look for Salamandra (salamandra) longirostris which led us to move on towards the east, with Frank joining us. We stayed for one night at Monte Gordo, just before the Spanish border. After dark, Sander, Bobby, Frank and me drove a bit inland to visited a nearby beautiful brook in the hills, where quite a few Iberian Midwife Toad (Alytes cisternasii) were calling. Also a few Fire Salamanders here (crespoi?). Not so easy to find the little toads, as it was not very warm, but Sander and Bobby persisted and found a nice male carrying eggs. Beautiful!


Sander, Frank, Jan B, Bobby, Wouter and Jan VDV at Monchique salamander site


Frank’s animalarium


Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra crespoi)


Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra crespoi)


Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra crespoi)


Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra crespoi)


Wouter


Sander


Fire Salamander in SE Portugal (crespoi?)


Iberian Midwife Toad (Alytes cisternasii)

December 20th - Huelva, Laguna de Medina and on to Alcala de los Gazules

After crossing the Rio Guadiana border with Spain, we revisited a 2006 industrial ruin site. No skinks or worm lizards this time, but Bobby found a juvenile Horseshoe Whip Snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis). Also a beautiful big adult, killed by local idiots.
We passed the Laguna de Medina for some birding.
We stayed at Alcala de los Gazules for this and the next night. Driving around in heavy rain, we found many animals, including Iberian Parsley Frog (Pelodytes ibericus - also calling everywhere in the Alcornocales area), Iberian Painted Frog (ssp. jeanneae), Common Toad, Southern Marbled Newt and four Fire Salamanders (Salamandra (salamandra) longirostris). We met again with Frank, who had found an additional five salamanders.


Jan and Bobby at Huelva site


Horseshoe Whip Snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis)


Sander and Bobby at Laguna de Medina


Bobby


Southern Marbled Newt (Triturus pygmaeus)

December 21st - PN Alcornocales - wetter than wet

First, we took some time to photograph salamanders and frogs. Then, we made what was supposed to be a beautiful tour through the PN Alcornocales, but which was dominated by vast amounts of rain.


Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi jeanneae)


Jan and Bobby next to puddles where Pelodytes ibericus reproduces


Bobby photographing Pelodytes


Iberian Parsley Frog (Pelodytes ibericus)


Frank and longirostris (1)


Frank and longirostris (2)


portrait of gravid female Fire Salamander (Salamandra (salamandra) longirostris)


salamander time with Jan, Frank, Sander and Bobby


Fire Salamander (Salamandra (salamandra) longirostris)


Fire Salamander (Salamandra (salamandra) longirostris)


Fire Salamander (Salamandra (salamandra) longirostris)


Fire Salamander (Salamandra (salamandra) longirostris)


Fire Salamander (Salamandra (salamandra) longirostris)


Fire Salamander (Salamandra (salamandra) longirostris)


juvenile Fire Salamander (Salamandra (salamandra) longirostris)


Iberian Parsley Frog (Pelodytes ibericus)


Iberian Parsley Frog (Pelodytes ibericus)


Sander and Bobby taking cover from the rain, before making a run towards the car

December 22nd - PN Doñana

Really unbelievable, the amount of rain that can fall in a couple of days… We drove back west to PN Doñana. Luckily, shortly after our arrival the sky miraculously cleared up. Cold wind, though, so not too much reptile activity - the only active reptile was a single Carbonell’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis carbonelli). Besides that, some calling Iberian Water Frog and Iberian Parsley Frogs. Also, we uncovered some Moorish Gecko, Natterjack Toad, and Bobby found a second Iberian False Smooth Snake.
We found ourselves a bed at Matalascañas, where a Stripeless Tree Frog was calling in the garden. After dark, to a spot along a stream, where Frank had been before. Here, we found Painted Frog, Natterjack, Midwife Toad and again heard Parsley Frog.


finally at the famous national park


Purple Swamphen


Azure-winged Magpie


Bobby at Doñana


temporary Pelodytes breeding site


danger !


Carbonell’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis carbonelli)


El Rocio


Bobby and Sander in front of El Rocio


evening entertainment by Sander


Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi)


Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita)


Iberian Midwife Toad (Alytes cisternasii)


Iberian Midwife Toad (Alytes cisternasii)


young Iberian Midwife Toad (Alytes cisternasii)


young Iberian Midwife Toad (Alytes cisternasii)


always up to something naughty - Bobby and Sander


Sander

December 23rd - El Rocio, towards Mazagon, and woods north of Cartaya

First, Sander got some birding time at the lagune near El Rocio. In the mean time, Bobby, Frank and me, found some Vaucher’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis vaucheri) in the village.
Next, we did a dune walk on our way towards Mazagon. Here, some Carbonell’s Wall Lizard and a few very tiny Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus).
Our trip’s final spot was the open pine wood north of Cartaya, which we also visited in 2006. Here, we found very few animals: some Moorish Gecko, Natterjack Toad and Frank found a single Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus) and a beautiful reddish Southern Smooth Snake (Coronella girondica). After that, we continued west and stayed again at Monte Gordo. Frank carried on, finding firstly at the same Cartaya spot yet another Southern Smooth Snake and a Iberian False Smooth Snake.


ready to leave our Matalascañas hostal


El Rocio


‘no lizards???’


Bobby praying for his first vaucheri to come back out


Vaucher’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis vaucheri)


Frank and Bobby at El Rocio


some bad boy seems to have left the footpath…


Mazagon beach (with Frank, Sander and Bobby)


Sander and Bobby coming back from the beach


Frank, Bobby and Jan at girondica site


Southern Smooth Snake (Coronella girondica)


Southern Smooth Snake (Coronella girondica)

December 24th - home

Not wanting to risk the same mess on my way back, I had booked a return flight to Eindhoven, together with Jan. However, trouble once again, as this flight was cancelled and we had to join Bobby and Sander to Amsterdam. After an unanticipated train voyage through the Dutch snowy landscape, I finally managed to get home.


white train travel

List of the observed species

1. Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra) - ssp. crespoi and (s)sp. longirostris
2. Southern Marbled Newt (Triturus pygmaeus)
3. Bosca’s Newt (Lissotriton boscai) - distinct “maltzani” clade
4. Ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl)
5. Iberian Midwife Toad (Alytes cisternasii)
6. Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi)
7. Iberian Parsley Frog (Pelodytes ibericus)
8. Parsley Frog sp. (Pelodytes sp. nov.; preliminary attributed to punctatus by Tejedo et al. (2003))
9. Western Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes)
10. Common Toad (Bufo bufo)
11. Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita)
12. Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis)
13. Iberian Water Frog (Pelophylax perezi)
14. Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica)
15. Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus)
16. Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus)
17. Vaucher’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis vaucheri)
18. Carbonell’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis carbonelli)
19. Madeira Wall Lizard (Teira dugesii)
20. Horseshoe Whip Snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis)
21. Southern Smooth Snake (Coronella girondica)
22. Iberian False Smooth Snake (Macroprotodon brevis)
23. Western Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)

What we missed …

Of course, we didn’t find everything, although we searched and hoped for Spiny-footed Lizard (Acanthodactylus erythrurus), Bedriaga’s Skink (Chalcides bedriagai), Western Three-toed Skink (Chalcides striatus), Maria’s Worm Lizard (Blanus mariae) and even Lastaste’s Viper (Vipera latastei). Strangely enough, four species of snakes but no Viperine Snake (Natrix maura).

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