My finds from Europe

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huck
Posts: 29
Joined: July 25th, 2016, 6:26 pm
Location: Los Angeles

My finds from Europe

Post by huck »

Hi guys! I recently took a trip to Europe for the month of August. For three weeks, I stayed in the arid, vineyard strewn hills in Provence, and for the last week I trekked in the ominous Alps of the Gran Pardiso National Park. Here are my finds:
In this link I have shared a photograph of a Moorish gecko (tarantula mauritanica), that I found in a small village where i stayed. Every night these herps would congregate around streetlights. They'd snatch beetles and flies whizzing around them. To catch them, I would prowl the streets with a feather duster to scare them down into an area where i could reach them.
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Throughout the weeks, at my sisters horseback-riding camp, I spent hours searching for snakes in garbage piles and grassy fields, without luck, although I did discover a small drainage ditch consisting of a tiny puddle and a plethora of pelophylax frogs. Here are my finds from that location:
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A marsh frog (pelophylax ridibundus) ensconced in grasses.
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A Perez's frog (pelophylax perezi).
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A size comparison between the two species, the pelophylax ridibundus and the larger pelophylax perezi.
I also found abundant and ubiquitous the European mantis (mantis religiosa), so I took many pictures. I particularly like this picture of it stretching.
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As the weeks passed, I still hadn't seen a snake (except for a "DOR" grass snake (natrix natrix) and a fleeting glimpse of a montpelier snake (malpolon monspessulanus)). Thanks to Bill McGihan, Jeroen Speybroeck and "lateralis" for their advice, who informed me on local snake species and herping techniques to find them. So I relentlessly searched everywhere. I was so devoted to finding any snake that, more than once, I fell face first into stagnant, algae, larvae and moss infested pools, fully clothed. For example, during one expedition, I was walking on a pond's edge when I lost my footing, slipped, and crashed down a steep 6 foot bank. But I only traveled half the drop-I was caught by the arms of thick blackberry vines, whose huge thorns hooked then embedded into my waist and legs. I pryed the thorns out, revealing a bloody torso, and humbly walked away, again without any snake. I was becoming quite disheartened as my Provencal days came to a close; I had embarked on nearly 15 outings scrutinizing every nook and cranny. Nonetheless, on the last evening, during the last six hours of my time in Provence-I found a snake.
I was walking along a stream bank in the redolent temperate paradise of the Forét Communale de Buox. Woodnotes rippled in the air. As I sauntered alongside an active stream, I noticed something lying completely still in a gentle pool. I couldn't believe my eyes when I recognized the creature. It was a viperine snake (natrix maura)
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As you can see, I took many pictures. This was the habitat in la Forét Communale de Buox:
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I was overjoyed. I also found this:
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A common toad (bufo bufo) in the Forét Communale de Buox.
The next morning we left for Italy: (this is a photo I took of a chamois (rupicapra rupicapra)
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On the first evening, I found an asp viper under a flat rock. I sprinted back to my hotel, brought back my camera and my sister to the spot. I relocated the flat rock, but when I flipped the rock, the viper had disappeared.
Later that week, as my family and I were on the third day of of a seven day mountain trek, I found this beauty:
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(rana temporaria)
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A gravid female common frog (rana temporaria). These frogs were everywhere in the high altitude ponds and lakes of Gran Paradiso National Park.
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A viviparous lizard (lacerta vivipara) that my dad found crawling through the reeds of an alpine marsh.
On every day until the last I flipped every flat-ish rock I found without encountering any snake. When we returned to Cogne, the town where we finished the trek, I thought my herping was over. I surveyed the hills surrounding my hotel, and saw no rocks, except for trillion-ton mountains that would be a bit difficult to lift. Yet, I was wrong. On the following morning, 30 minutes before we were to depart for America, I heard my dad scream for me, "HUCK, VIPERRRRRR!!!!!!!" When I ran up to him, I saw the snake: It was a beautiful little smooth snake (coronella austriaca). This was the gran finale. All of this hard work had paid off.
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Thanks everybody! I hope you enjoy the content! Please follow my instagram @hucktphotography for more wildlife pictures.

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Joined: June 29th, 2011, 12:56 am
Location: Belgium
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Re: My finds from Europe

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck »

Glad you got to find some herps under suboptimal conditions! Looks like a fairly large asp. I knew you would turn up a Natrix maura in the end.

I wouldn't trust the ID of the water frogs, though. Both ridibundus and perezi are highly variable and similar. While both species may co-occur (even together with P. kl. grafi, complicating matters even more), the invasive ridibundus has taken over much of perezi's historical range in S France. This fact is however largely established by molecular data, not so much by morphology.

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huck
Posts: 29
Joined: July 25th, 2016, 6:26 pm
Location: Los Angeles

Re: My finds from Europe

Post by huck »

Thank you for he identification Jeroen! These were the only two general types of frogs I found, so maybe different subspecies/morphs of p. Ridibundus? Maybe cross-bred specimens between p. Perezi and p. Ridibundus? Who knows!

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