4 days and 3 nights in Northeastern Colombia Part 1

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Herpaderp
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4 days and 3 nights in Northeastern Colombia Part 1

Post by Herpaderp » January 16th, 2018, 9:05 pm

Just spent an awesome 4 days in Tayrona National Park in Magdalena, Colombia. I live in Medellin, Colombia and a herpetologist and naturalist I know in Bogota put me in touch with a researcher and biologist at the University of Magdalena, Jose Luis Perez ([email protected] ), who offered to take me into the infrequently explored mangroves, and Caribbean lowland dry tropical forests of North-Eastern Colombia's Magdalena department. We used one of the park's small fishing villages as our base-camp and, with the help and permission of some of the local people, explored the vast, labrynthine, though poorly kept trail systems (visitors to the park are typically not permitted to venture off the beaches) in a small fraction of this enormous wilderness. We were accompanied most nights by local resident Jefer (never got his last name), a tough, though friendly ex-military Colombian guy who, despite a limp from a knee injury a few years prior, moved through the dense forest like a cat and who had (along with Jose) an incredible eye for contrast and the slightest movements. He and Jose combined (I think I did pretty well for not being too familiar with the area) didn't miss much. Jose's knowledge of the local herpetofauna, and the biodiversity of the area in general, made this one of the most interesting herping trips I've been on. Anyways, on to the herps.

The plan was four days and nights of herping. We unfortunately got rained out the third night, so it turned into three, but we managed 7 species of snake (and probably around 15 snakes in total), various other anoles, ameivas, skinks, iguanas, geckos, mammals, birds and inverts. The reef at the beach we were camped on was also decent snorkelling (good visibility and a fair number of species). Although, as with most places in the Caribbean, it is, unfortunately, quite bleached. Anyways, enjoy!

First snake species of the trip was one that was at the top of my list, Prothidium lansbergii (hog-nosed viper). We found it at around 1230 pm underneath a piece of bark about a metre from the edge of the trail we were on, adjacent to some exposed tree-roots. Found another dead one a couple of days later in a local's papaya/yuca garden, but didn't take photos. Pretty sure one of the bloody feral domestic cats got to it right before we did.
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(hog-nosed viper)

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That was the only snake of the first day herp (which I was fine with, seeing as how day herping in dense forest is like looking for a needle in a haystack much of the time). The rest of the hike turned up some geckos, skinks, ameivas, spiders and anoles.
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Lepidoblepharis sancaemartae (Santa Marta Gecko)

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Ameiva praesignis (Blue phase Giant Ameiva)

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Ameiva bifronata (Griswold's Ameiva)

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Cnemidophorous gaigei (Gaige's Rainbow Lizard)

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Anolis auratus (Grass anole)

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Gonatodes albugularis (male Yellow Headed Gecko)
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this one had a red head

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Gymnophthalmus speciosus (Golden Spectacled Tegu) - the idea that this is a micro tegu blew my mind. Wish I'd had a coin for scale.

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habitat
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The first night turned up one snake, and another lifer for me, a juvenile Pseudoboa neuweidii (Mussurana). This was the most commonly found snake of the trip and also the most stunning. I saw it from 20 yards away climbing up the embankment of a dried-up river bed. The fluorescent red/pink of this snake seemed almost artificial and I had to take a second to make sure my eyes were working properly. Incredibly docile. We would go on to find a couple of these each night. Was hoping to find a big adult. Gecko's and inverts abounded.

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Pseudoboa neuweidii ( juvenile Mussurana)
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Phyllodactylus ventralis (Margarita Leaf-Toed Gecko)
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The second day we saw one unidentified, 1.5m+/- tan-looking snake that took off like a shot about 3 metres in front of us and went down a steep embankment where we couldn't follow. Probably some sort of rat snake (which the locals call a “cazadora” or “hunter” because it can be found actively pursuing lizards etc. During the day). Jose's cousin and a couple of her friends were visiting the park that day from Baranquilla and they asked us to walk them to one of the nearby beaches so they didn't have to catch a boat (the hike there had good habitat). Was hilarious watching them scream and hide behind us as the frightened snake flew down the hill. The day herps turned up the usual suspects in terms of lizards, inverts, etc.

The second night turned up 5 more snakes: a stunning gold and slate Leptodeira annulata (Annulated Cat-eyed Snake), a juvenile Phimophis guianensis (Trochel's Pampas Snake), 2 Oxybelis Aeneus (Brown Vine Snake), the dead Prothidium lansbergii mentioned earlier and another Pseudoboa neuweidii.

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Leptoderia annulata (Annulated Cat-eyed Snake)

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Phimophis guianensis (juvenile Trochel's Pampas Snake)

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Oxybelis aeneus (Brown Vine Snake)

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Part II up next...

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: 4 days and 3 nights in Northeastern Colombia Part 1

Post by Josh Holbrook » January 17th, 2018, 7:55 am

That phimophis is great!

Herpaderp
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Re: 4 days and 3 nights in Northeastern Colombia Part 1

Post by Herpaderp » January 17th, 2018, 8:51 am

Josh Holbrook wrote:That phimophis is great!
Thanks Josh. Really cool snake. Wish the adults stayed as colourful!

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: 4 days and 3 nights in Northeastern Colombia Part 1

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » January 18th, 2018, 1:27 pm

Josh Holbrook wrote:That phimophis is great!
Agreed!!! I think mussurana refers to Clelia species, but thanks for your post!

DanW
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Re: 4 days and 3 nights in Northeastern Colombia Part 1

Post by DanW » January 26th, 2018, 12:49 pm

Cool stuff, thanks for sharing. Is part 2 in Tayrona well. You did much better with snakes than me on my two nights in the park, I think we only had a tree boa and a Bothrops asper.

Dan

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LouB747
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Re: 4 days and 3 nights in Northeastern Colombia Part 1

Post by LouB747 » January 27th, 2018, 11:49 pm

Awesome. Gotta love red snakes.

Herpaderp
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Re: 4 days and 3 nights in Northeastern Colombia Part 1

Post by Herpaderp » February 2nd, 2018, 9:51 am

DanW wrote:Cool stuff, thanks for sharing. Is part 2 in Tayrona well. You did much better with snakes than me on my two nights in the park, I think we only had a tree boa and a Bothrops asper.

Dan

No prob! Yeah, both in Tayrona. I missed the Bothrops, unfortunately (though I'd seen them in Costa Rica), wanted to see the Magdalena locality. Tree boa was the prize for me.

Herpaderp
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Re: 4 days and 3 nights in Northeastern Colombia Part 1

Post by Herpaderp » February 2nd, 2018, 9:55 am

LouB747 wrote:Awesome. Gotta love red snakes.

Oh yeah!

Man, I've watched your blue coral video (all your videos really, subbed to your channel) so many times. Your King Cobra in HK is also one of the prettiest I've seen. I was talking to your buddy JP last summer at a herping event in Krabi, Thailand, he was telling me about all your guys adventures. I'm going to be in Krabi for 4-5 months this summer, if you ever want to come up and do some herping It'd be fun to head out together. Shoot me a PM.

Cheers!

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LouB747
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Re: 4 days and 3 nights in Northeastern Colombia Part 1

Post by LouB747 » February 4th, 2018, 1:39 pm

Herpaderp wrote:
LouB747 wrote:Awesome. Gotta love red snakes.

Oh yeah!

Man, I've watched your blue coral video (all your videos really, subbed to your channel) so many times. Your King Cobra in HK is also one of the prettiest I've seen. I was talking to your buddy JP last summer at a herping event in Krabi, Thailand, he was telling me about all your guys adventures. I'm going to be in Krabi for 4-5 months this summer, if you ever want to come up and do some herping It'd be fun to head out together. Shoot me a PM.

Cheers!
Thanks for the support! I may hit you up on that offer, if even for a night. Sounds amazing. Thanks again.

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