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 Post subject: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 4:55 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
Posts: 880
Location: NE Ohio
Deutschland…

Obviously being a herp/nature oriented guy Europe was never high on my list of places to visit, although I figured I would go there one day. Well after last year’s trip to Costa Rica I instinctively knew I needed to go to Europe. With family friends in Germany, at least one country was on the must-see list, and as plans finalized we realized that there is so much to see in that one country we really did not visit anywhere else. The we I talk about is my fiancé, Jessica, and I. So with the hopes of castles, culture and creatures we departed the states on June 14 to land in Dusseldorf WAAAY too long later. I’ll keep the suspense light. Herps were few and hard to come by and the only two snakes I saw, Grass Snakes (Natrix natrix) were basking together and escaped before I could photograph or capture them.

After spending time with our friends in Krefeld, seeing a bit of the cities and The Netherlands I needed nature. So our friend, Irene, took us to a local park. Bird life was incredible and frogs were calling everywhere. Aside from some toad metamorphs, which I didn’t even attempt to ID, I was able to find one frog, which a biologist contact in Germany identified as a Marsh Frog (Pelophylax ridibundus).
Image
Thanks Jochen!

Great Crested Grebes were everywhere at this park, along with other areas of Germany.
Image

Soon though, Jess and I were on our own. Our first stop Heidelberg. The castle was incredible and Jess found it funny that I kept focusing on the birds. Here I am looking at the one and only Hawfinch of the trip.
Image Many people had cameras around their neck, but only I had binoculars!

The place did not appear particularly herp rich and walking over to check out this fountain I had no herp expectations.
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But upon looking in it was covered in toadpoles and toadlets. Closer examination revealed caudate larvae. And further examination revealed adult Alpine Newts (Mesotriton alpestris)! This was a top herp target for the trip, but with so many people around and in such a touristy area I didn’t scoop any out for pictures and only ended up with this one horrible picture.
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I suspected Fire Salamander larvae were also in the fountains and searching around the construction area, which can be seen in the background of the picture, I was able to find this:
The original salamander: Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra)!
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Too cool. Our next stop was the Black Forest, which contained awesome habitat, such as this:
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And very few herps. Although, this one pond was loaded with Alpine Newts. Unfortunately, Jess had the wrong camera setting and none of the pictures came out. Here is me admiring the loads of newts.
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Another walk around a part of the forest brought us to a nice lake. Next to a bridge we noticed movement. It ended up being some Viviparous Lizard (Zootoca vivipara).
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Night drives allowed me to see lots of Roe Deer and Red Foxes and one original toad: Common Toad (Bufo bufo), but the road was dangerous and I wasn’t able to get a picture.

Our next few stops had no herps, only a few birds, but luckily we saved the best for last. Berchtesgaden National Park! Again, herps were hard to come by and this is where I saw the snakes, a reintroduced European Beaver and one of many Eurasian Coots, along with either Rudd or Roach (a type of European minnow species) below. All waiting on handouts.
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One day I climbed a mountain.
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Took a rest, and some food and drink at the mountaintop restaurant.
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Seriously, this is one of the top 5 hardest hikes I have ever done, and that is coming from a professional hiking guide. But I did get to see a highly sought after bird.
Alpine Clough.
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Jess and I took a scenic drive that skirted over the border into Austria. Ended up seeing the last herp of the trip (we did see them other places too).
Sand Lizards (Lacerta agilis).
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I’ll end on that lizard picture. After that we headed back to our friends in Krefeld, in a cold-induced stupor (I was sick the entire trip and Jess towards the end) and on July 1 we were back in the states.

Andy

For those who care, the list of species we saw is below. Asterisks are lifers.
REPTILES
1. * Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis
2. * Viviparous Lizard Zootoca vivipara
3. * Grass Snake Natrix natrix

AMPHIBIANS
1. * Common Toad Bufo bufo
2. * Marsh Frog Pelophylax ridibundus
3. * Alpine Newt Mesotriton alpestris
4. * Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra

MAMMALS
1. * Eurasian Beaver Castor fiber
2. * Bank Vole Myodes glareolus
3. * Yellow-necked Mouse Apodemus flavicollis
4. * Eurasian Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris
5. * European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus
6. * European Hare Lepus europaeus
7. Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
8. American Mink Mustela vison
9. * Red Deer Cervus elaphus
10. * European Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus

BIRDS (I will say it was cool to see things like House Sparrow, European Starling and Mute Swan in their native habitats.)
1. * Greylag Goose Anser anser
2. Canada Goose Branta canadensis
3. Mute Swan Cygnus olor
4. * Eqyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca
5. Gadwall Anas strepera
6. Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
7. Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
8. * Common Pochard Aythya ferina
9. * Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
10. Common Merganser Mergus merganser
11. Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
12. * Little Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus
13. * Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
14. * White Stork Ciconia ciconia
15. * Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
16. * Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
17. * Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
18. Great Egret Ardea alba
19. * Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
20. * European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus
21. * Red Kite Milvus milvus
22. * Black Kite Milvus migrans
23. * Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
24. * Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
25. * Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
26. * Eurasian Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
27. * Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
28. * Black-headed Gull Chroiccocephalus ridibundus
29. Herring Gull Larus argentatus
30. * Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
31. Rock Dove Columba livia
32. * Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
33. Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto
34. * Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
35. * Common Swift Apus apus
36. * European Bee-eater Merops apiaster
37. * Great-spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
38. * Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus
39. * Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius
40. * European Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
41. * Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio
42. * Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
43. * Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
44. * Alpine Clough Pyrrhocorax graculus
45. * Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula
46. * Carrion Crow Corvus corone
47. Common Raven Corvus corax
48. * Eurasian Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris
49. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
50. * Common House Martin Delichon urbicum
51. * Willow Tit Poecile montanus
52. * Coal Tit Periparus ater
53. * Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus
54. * Great Tit Parus major
55. * European Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
56. * Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
57. * Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea
58. * Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria
59. * Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
60. * Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
61. * White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus
62. * Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybia
63. * Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris
64. * Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
65. * Greater Whitethroat Sylvia communis
66. * European Robin Erithacus rubecula
67. * Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
68. * Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula
69. * Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
70. * Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
71. * Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
72. European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
73. * Dunncock Prunella modularis
74. * Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
75. * White Wagtail Motacilla alba
76. * Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
77. * Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
78. * Common Reed Bunting Emeriza schoeniclus
79. * Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
80. * Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
81. * European Greenfinch Chloris chloris
82. * Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus
83. * European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
84. * Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
85. * Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
86. House Sparrow Passer domesticus
87. * Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus


Last edited by Andy Avram on July 12th, 2012, 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 11:21 pm 
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Joined: June 11th, 2010, 10:19 am
Posts: 276
Location: Jyväskylä, Finland
Nice stuff. However, your Lacerta agilis and Zootoca vivipara are the wrong way round.


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 6:52 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:50 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
Nice! Very jealous of the fire salamander!!


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 9:47 am 
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Joined: July 3rd, 2010, 8:05 am
Posts: 222
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Nice read Andy, more than I expected from that part of the world.

Michael Cravens


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 11:42 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:32 am
Posts: 240
Martti Niskanen wrote:
Nice stuff. However, your Lacerta agilis and Zootoca vivipara are the wrong way round.



Indeed.

And I am not convinced that frog is Pelophylax ridibundus - the black face mask covering the eyes is more typical of Rana temporaria (and relatives) than of the green Pelophylax group.


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 1:19 pm 

Joined: June 10th, 2010, 11:57 am
Posts: 133
I'm reasonably comfortable saying the fish under the coot are rudd; the dorsal fin looks to be too far back for roach.


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 Post subject: Sv: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 1:36 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:24 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Sweden
WW** wrote:
Martti Niskanen wrote:
Nice stuff. However, your Lacerta agilis and Zootoca vivipara are the wrong way round.



Indeed.

And I am not convinced that frog is Pelophylax ridibundus - the black face mask covering the eyes is more typical of Rana temporaria (and relatives) than of the green Pelophylax group.

I agree, its almost certainly a brown frog - Rana temporaria or arvalis. Most likely temporaria.


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 1:42 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
Posts: 880
Location: NE Ohio
Martti, you are correct. Somehow my brain switched the ID on those pictures back in the states. I fixed the labels.

Nir, The Fire Salamander was a top target and highlight. We found it so easily that my fiance thought we would see tons of them. I told her (correctly) that we probably will not see another on the whole trip.

Michael, glad you enjoyed. It was a little less then I expected, but I guess the reality is that there are very few herp species there so you take what you can get when herping is secondary (or even third-ary). Luckily though I enjoy looking at other wildlife. I just wish I had a freshwater fish ID book - so many cool fishes swimming around.

WW, fixed the lizards. Had a brain mix-up on those. As for the frog - Rana temporaria should have no amount of green on it, has a blunt rounded snout and in Germany does not associate to water aside from breeding. This frog had a fair amount of bright green, along with the green dorsal stripe, a sharp, longer snout, was on a trail that was more of dike with water on both sides and a quick google search shows other Marsh Frogs that are all green with a dark mask. I am confident it is a frog on the Pelophylax genus, but of course anything beyond is a little more difficult. But your herp experience far outweighs mine and this was my first trip to Europe...

Tai, Rudd was my first instinct, but I don't have a book, or even a list of European (or German) freshwater fish. I would have loved to ID more of the fish. I for sure saw Northern Pike, Common Carp, Tench, European Perch, Common Minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) but also saw other another small, surface dwelling minnow species, a large species in the riffles (Chub maybe?), a species of trout and maybe a few more of I think about it.

Andy


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 1:52 pm 
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Joined: April 15th, 2011, 12:29 pm
Posts: 720
Location: Southern Indiana
I agree that is not a brown frog. Here are some pics from google of Pelophylax with masks.

Image



Image


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 4:21 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 4:02 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Borden County, TX
I always enjoy seeing Salamandra on here. I'm surprised you didn't find any in the Black Forest. There are several stunning color varieties of S. s. terrestris that I have seen from there.

Travis


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 7:04 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:22 am
Posts: 438
Location: Athens, OH
Nice report. I'm not sure being a pro hiking guide from flat Ohio means a whole lot...


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 10:59 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:32 am
Posts: 240
Hmmm... I suspect you may be right about the frog being a Pelophylax after all - the narrow light middorsal line is certainly exceptional in brown frogs. WTH, I am not an amphibian guy... Incidentally, the habitat issue is much less clear-cut than the books will have you believe - we have Rana temporaria in our garden pond right through the summer. And I am sure of the ID since it's the only species of frog found in the area ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 13th, 2012, 1:49 am 
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Joined: June 11th, 2010, 10:19 am
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Location: Jyväskylä, Finland
The frog is most definitely a Pelophylax in my eyes.


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 13th, 2012, 7:25 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Around the time I left Germany 24 years ago, Grey Herons, lizards and fire salamanders were restricted to very remote nature reserves and basically the stuff of legends. Now the herons roost on the roofs of urban train stations, lizards can be seen in many open areas, and fire salamanders are found in baroque fountains. Them Germins musta done something right, conservation-wise.

(Still, I ain't going back :-))

PS: That first park you mention, is it in Düsseldorf? If so, which one is it?


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 14th, 2012, 6:20 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
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Location: Unicoi, TN
Good stuff, Andy.
Good list of mammals as well.

Pretty cool finding herps near a university that was started in 1386!


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 14th, 2012, 9:22 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
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Location: NE Ohio
tdimler, I am not terribly sure how easy it is to find Fire Salamanders in mid-late June. Are they supposed to be easy?

Carl, thanks, I hope you can make it over to Germany too. And hey, we have some big ravines and gorges in my corner of the state. Enough that it rivals the elevation change in your neck of the woods! But I get what you are saying.

WW, that doesn't suprise me that some brown frogs use water on a regular basis, I was just looking at all the clues to the ID as a whole. For some reason I thought you were in Australia or somewhere not in Europe.

Hans, Grey Herons were pretty common, but the lizards I only saw in certain pockets. The park we went to was due west of Krefeld right against the Netherlands border. I don't know the name, but it shoes up on goolemaps.
Overall, it was a fun trip, but I do need to the tropics again.

Thanks Bill. Heidelberg was cool and I was surprised at how great the wildlife was there in the city (and castle) but also within a 1/2 hour radis around had some of Germany's best birding spots.


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 Post subject: Re: Germany - few herps, long read....
PostPosted: July 14th, 2012, 9:51 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:27 pm
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Very cool that you found newts/tadpoles in that fountain. Do people not throw coins in fountains in Germany?


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