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Excursion to northern Greece (Epiros, Thessalia, West- and Centralmacedonia) from June, 4th till June, 21st, 2008.

Unsere /our route
On wednesday, June 4th, Dr. Werner Mayer and I drove down from Salzburg to Ancona via Bologna. At 4:00 p.m. we took the Anek ferry boat to Igoumenitsa.
Thursday, June 5th
About 8:30 we arrived in Greece and drove to Kastoria, passing Ioannina and Konitsa. On the way from Igou to Ioannina we found Testudo marginata and Testudo h. boettgeri, north of Ioannina Testudo h. boettgeri only. At the eastern slopes of the Pindos mountains we saw syntope living Podarcis muralis albanicus and Podarcis erh. riveti.

Podarcis muralis albanicus

Habitat of Podarcis muralis and Dr. Werner Mayer
Friday, June 6th
The morning we spent to find Algyroides nigropunctatus at the Kastoria lake and have been lucky. We found them at the rocks and on the stems of Platanus trees, growing at the shoreline along the Kastoria peninsula. In the water Pelophylax ridibundus (balcanicus).
In the afternoon we searched in the hills north of the lake: Testudo h. boettgeri, Lacerta trilineata, Podarcis erh. riveti and a road killed Malpolon (monsp.) insignitus fuscus.

Habitat of Algyroides nigropunctatus

Algyroides nigropunctatus

Algyroides nigropunctatus - ventral

Pelophylax ridibundus

Podarcis erhardii riveti, male
Saturday, June 7th
From Kastoria via Kozani and Veria to Leptokaria at the eastern side of Olympus mountain. At the end of the Aliakmona dam we found Podarcis erh. riveti in the gravel floodplains, overgrown by grass, although we expected Podarcis t. tauricus in this habitat. Between Leptokaria and Karia we saw Testudo marginata and Podarcis erh. riveti at low altitudes.

Habitat of Testudo marginata

Testudo marginata
Sunday, June 8th
On this day we searched the Pinios delta and parts of the Ossa mountains. Near Stomio we looked for Podarcis t. tauricus for some hours, but only saw Podarcis muralis, Lacerta viridis meridionalis?, Testudo h. boettgeri and a few Natrix tessellata.
At the eastern slopes of the Ossa mountains near Melivia we found Bombina variegata scabra, Pelophylax ridibundus and larvae of Salamandra salamandra in a small creek. On the rocks near by some Lacerta viridis ssp.

Podarcis muralis

Lacerta viridis meridionalis, juvenil

habitat of: Bombina v. scabra, Pelophylax ridibundus and Salamandra salamandra
Monday, June 9th
While the weather was acceptable during the last days - warm and partly cloudy with a few showers and some bright sunshine, quite good for reptile searching, the monday was "day off". The whole day with low rain clouds with strong rainfall and thunderstorms.

habitat: Podarcis erhardii riveti
Tuesday, June 10th
Driving from Leptokaria via Karia and Elassona to Larissa. At low altitudes on the southern slopes of the "Big Olymp" mountain Testudo marginata and Podarcis erh. riveti. In a small creek east of Olimbiada (Sparmou) Salamandra salamandra larvae and Pelophylax ridibundus. In the Platanus forest some Podarcis muralis. In Thessalia it was very dry and also very warm. On the gravel floodplains of the Paliomantano river we found hundreds of newly metamorphosed Bufo bufo spinosus, Pseudepidalea viridis and Rana dalmatina. One of the highlights of the trip were the finding of 2 stone curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus), immotile sitting between gravel stones. Also after handling to take some good images, they dont run away for a few minutes. On the pastures, overgrown with small Quercus coccifera, east of the river, I only found Testudo hermanni boettgeri, Pseudepidalea viridis and Lacerta trilineata, although I know this area for nearly all herps, occuring in this area, since decades.

Burhinus oedicnemus

Rana dalmatina, froglet

habitat of: Testudo h. boettgeri, T. marginata, Lacerta trilineata, Pseudopus apodus, Pseudepidalea viridis, Vipera ammodytes ......................

Testudo hermanni boettgeri

Pseudepidalea viridis
Wednesday, June 11th
From Larissa to Thessaloniki we took the highway, from Thessaloniki to the Doirani lake the main road. At late afternoon we found Testudo hermanni boettgeri, Podarcis tauricus and Lacerta viridis on pastures near the lake, in a pond Emys orbicularis.

habitat near lake Doirani

Baby Testudo hermanni boettgeri

Lacerta viridis
Thursday, June 12th
Near the banks of the lake, in large flat meadows with some ditches we saw Pelobates syriacus balcanicus tadpoles, Pelophylax ridibundus, Emys orbicularis, Mauremys rivulata, Testudo h. boettgeri, Lacerta viridis meridionalis, Podarcis erh. riveti, Podarcis t. tauricus, Natrix natrix persa and Natrix tessellata.
In the afternoon we piked up Christoph Riegler at Thessaloniki airport amd drove to Lagadikia between Koronia and Volvi lake.

Doirani lake, habitat of: Emys orbicularis, Pelophylax ridibundus

Emys orbicularis

Pelophylax ridibundus

Podarcis tauricus tauricus

frustrated Austrian football fan: Dr. Werner Mayer
Friday, June 13th
It´s friday, the 13th and the day starts very well. On the way from Langadakia to Sholari a fresh road killed Eryx jaculus turcicus. On the hills at the north side of lake Volvi we found Testudo hermanni boettgeri, Testudo graeca ibera, Podarcis erh. riveti, Lacerta viridis, Lacerta trilineata, Pseudopus apodus, Natrix natrix persa, Dolichophis caspius and Typhlops vermicularis. In the Platanus forest between the lake and the coast we saw Lacerta viridis meridionalis, Pseudopus apodus and Vipera ammodytes meridionalis. From Stavros we drove along the east coast of Halkidiki peninsula to Ierissos and, crossing the hills, via Arnea back to Langadakia. On the way a road killed very large Dolichophis caspius, Testudo h. boettgeri, Podarcis erh. riveti and Lac. trilineata.

Eryx jaculus turcicus DOR

Dolichophis caspius

Typhlops vermicularis

young Testudo graeca ibera

Vipera ammodytes meridionalis

habitat of Vipera ammodytes meridionalis, Pseudopus apodus, Lacerta viridis
Saturday, June 14th
From Lagadikia via Thessaloniki - Edessa - Florina to the little Prespa lake. Near the village Pirgi (south of lake Vegoritida) a fresh road killed Elaphe quatuorlineata (wasn´t there one hour before). A short stop west of Florida was not successfull - only one Lacerta trilineata. At a restplace at the western slopes of Varnous mountains we found some Podarcis muralis. At the banks of the little Prespa lake near Mikrolimni 9 Natrix tessellata, basking between rocks in front of the restaurant. Our hotel was in Agios Germanos. At a creek, east of the village some Podarcis muralis and a very nice, heavy marked Lacerta viridis female could be observed.

Elaphe quatuorlineata DOR

Lacerta viridis, female
Sunday, June 15th
The weather was, like during the last days was partly cloudy with some showers. Crossing the dam, separating the little from the big Prespa lake, we drove to Vrondero. At a few stops we saw Lacerta trilineata, Podarcis erh. riveti and Testudo hermanni boettgeri. In the afternoon we went back to "our" restaurant in Mikrolimni. Also the Dice snakes have been there again. On rocks nearby we observed Algyroides nigropunctatus and Podarcis muralis. On rocks in the reed beside the water 1 Natrix natrix persa and some very large Natrix tessellata.

Vronderes: habitat: Lacerta trilineata

Natrix tessellata

Monday, June 16th
From Agios Germanos we drove up to the Varnous mountain on very bad gravel roads. Again we found Lacerta viridis and Podarcis muralis. At about 1400 meters a.s.l. an adult Rana dalmatina and some Lacerta agilis cf. bosnica. Last are new for this area in these "low" altitudes. In a small creek were Bombina variegata scabra and many Salamandra salamandra larvae. Between 1600 and 1700 meters a.s.l. we searched for Vipera berus bosniensis and Vipera ursinii ssp. in, for these species best looking habitats. Vipera berus is known from this valley in at least one specimen.

Varnous mountains

Rana dalmatina

Lacerta agilis cf. bosnica, female

Varnous mountains

habitat of: Bombina variegata scabra und Salamandra salamandra

Bombina variegata scabra

Varnous mountains, 1600 m a.s.l.
at the edge of the forest habitat of: Vipera berus bosniensis

possible habitat: Vipera ursinii
Tuesday, June 17th
During this day we searches on the lower slopes around the little Prespa lake. At the dam we found Podarcis t. tauricus, Lacerta viridis and Testudo h. boettgeri. On the peninsula between the little and the large Prespa lake was Testudo h. boettgeri and Podarcis erh. riveti. In the village Psarades a dried Pseudepidalea viridis. In the crested drains between Karies and Mikrolimni we found Bufo bufo spinosus and Triturus (c.) macedonicus. At late afternoon a fresh road killed Zamenis longissimus in the village Agois Germanos.

Little Prespa lake

Bufo bufo spinosus

Prespa lake

Podarcis erhardii riveti, male

habitat of: Triturus (c.) macedonicus

Triturus (c.) macedonicus
Wednesday, June 18th
Very good, but a bit to hot weather. Near Lemos one Dolichophis caspius. Again to Mikrolimni. On rocks Algyroides nigropunctatus and Podarcis muralis. In a podest, built by fishermen out of iron and wooden shelfs many Natrix tessellata had their resting place. Disturbing them, they just drop down into the water. On rocks at the banks nearby Podarcis erh. riveti. Driving on to Grevena. In Kastoria we showed Christoph Riegler Algyroides nigropunctatus. At this time we could observe a lot of Natrix tessellata.

Podarcis tauricus tauricus, male

habitat of: Lacerta viridis, Podarcis t. tauricus, Testudo h. boettgeri

hiding Dice snakes. You may see at least 4 specimens.

uniform brown Natrix tessellata on the way to her hiding place. Look at the video
WMV Time: 2:37; (320 x 240): 9,9 MB

Podarcis erhardii riveti; female

Christoph Riegler and Dr. Werner Mayer in Kastoria

Emys orbicularis

Lacerta trilineata
Thursday, June 19th
The temperatures now were like in high summer. At a short stop at the Stavropotamos canyon south of Grevena we saw Podarcis erh. riveti, also mating, Lacerta trilineata, Testudo h. boettgeri and one Natrix natrix persa. Searching for Podarcis t. tauricus in the grassy floodplains of the Aliakmonas river east of Grevena was without success. So we drove on to Kalabaka at the Meteora rocks. Near the village Kastraki Testudo hermanni boettgeri and Lacerta trilineata.

a greek fairytale

Stavropotamos canyon

rock at Meteora

Meteora rocks

to hot for everything ...........................
Friday, June 20th
The morning - like at each of my Greek trips - we visited the famous Meteora rocks and one monastery. This year Vaarlam. On the road from Kalabaka to the monastery Agios Stephanos a road killed juvenile Elaphe quatuorlineata. In the late morning, below a heavy crested plate we saw one Hierophis gemonensis. Unfortunately we couldn´t get him, so this species is not confirmed for the area till now. But I could see the head/neck and it was definetivly gemonensis. At noon we started from Kalabaka to the Katara bent. Along the Aoos dam (Limni o Pigon) to Greveniti and futher on the highway to Igoumenitsa. At the Aoos dam we found Podarcis muralis, Mesotriton alpestris and Hyla arborea. Near Greveniti we saw Vipera ammodytes meridionalis and lots of Podarcis muralis. In a ditch, partly overgrown by Nymphea, dozens of Mesotriton alpestris and one Natrix natrix persa. Near Miliotades possibly a Platyceps najadum (long, very thin snake) crossed the road. We left Greece at 10:30 p.m. to Ancona.

Hyla arborea

habitat of: Hyla arborea, Ichthyosaura alpestris, Podarcis muralis, Pelophylax ridibundus

habitat of: Podarcis muralis and Vipera ammodytes

Baby Vipera ammodytes
in grevine

small ditch; habitat of : Ichthyosaura alpestris and Natrix natrix persa

Natrix natrix persa

the end ......................................

Samstag, 21. Juni
Arrival in Ancona at 1:11 p.m. and back to Salzburg/Austria on the highway.

species found (DOR = dead on road): 33 species

Ichthyosaura alpestris
Salamandra salamandra
Triturus (c.) macedonicus

Bufo bufo
Bombina variegata scabra
Hyla arborea
Pelobates syriacus balcanicus
Pelophylax ridibundus / balcanicus
Pseudepidalea viridis
Rana dalmatina

Emys o. orbicularis x E.o. hellenica
Mauremys rivulata
Testudo graeca ibera
Testudo h. boettgeri
Testudo marginata

Algyroides nigropunctatus
Lacerta trililineata
Lacerta viridis ssp.
Podarcis erh. riveti
Podarcis muralis
Podarcis t. tauricus
Pseudopus apodus

Elaphe quatuorlineata DOR
Eryx jaculus turcicus DOR
Dolichophis caspius
Hierophis gemonensis
Malpolon (m.) insignitus fuscus DOR
Natrix natrix
Natrix tessellata
Platyceps najadum
Typhlops vermicularis
Vipera ammodytes meridionalis
Zamenis longissimus DOR

species occuring in the area, but not found:

Triturus vulgaris

Rana graeca

Ablepharus kitaibeli
Anguis fragilis

Coronella austriaca
Telescopus fallax
Zamenis situla

Vipera berus bosniensis
Vipera ursinii ssp.?