Northern Greece, 01. - 15. 06.2009

For the two weeks of our trip to Northern Greece we had scheduled five stations: the Ossa mountains, the Metsovo area, subsequently some days at the coast of Parga, afterwards the Vikos National Park and finally the Konitsa area.

  • Pyrenees, 2008 - 2016

    Pyrenees, 2008 - 2016

    Searching for Pyrenean lizards - third time's a charm!

    clearpx
  • Sicily & Aeolian Islands, 26.5. – 6.6.2016

    Sicily & Aeolian Islands, 26.5. – 6.6.2016

    Mission Volcano! Smoking mountains and rare reptiles

    clearpx
  • Astypalaia & Naxos, 25.3.-3.4.2016

    Astypalaia & Naxos, 25.3.-3.4.2016

    Hellas reloaded – Back in Europe’s biodiversity lab

    clearpx
  • Spain, 29.8.-11.9.2015

    Spain, 29.8.-11.9.2015

    Biodiversity on the south-eastern tangent

    clearpx
  • Montenegro, 2. – 11.7.2015

    Montenegro, 2. – 11.7.2015

    Lizard Safari in the mountains of Montenegro

    clearpx
  •  Malta, 3. – 6.4.2015

    Malta, 3. – 6.4.2015

    The exclusive Podarcis filfolensis Home Story!

    clearpx
  • Oman, 6.–15.3.2015

    Oman, 6.–15.3.2015

    Adventures in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula

    clearpx
  • Central Spain, 29.8. - 14.9.2014

    Central Spain, 29.8. - 14.9.2014

    14 days in the heat of Castile

    clearpx
  • Lefkada, Kefalonia & Akarnania, 24.5. - 3.6.2014

    Lefkada, Kefalonia & Akarnania, 24.5. - 3.6.2014

    Reptile adventures in Western Greece

    clearpx
  • Mallorca / Alicante - 15.-23.03.2014

    Mallorca / Alicante - 15.-23.03.2014

    2014 Season Kick-off with 16 reptile species

    clearpx
  • Corsica, 07.-17.09.2013

    Corsica, 07.-17.09.2013

    Mountains, sea and rock lizards

    clearpx
  • Portugal, 13. - 20.07.2013

    Portugal, 13. - 20.07.2013

    Lizard hunting in Central Portugal

    clearpx
  • Romania, 24.05. - 03.06.2013

    Romania, 24.05. - 03.06.2013

    Herping adventures from the Black Sea coast to the Iron Gate

    clearpx
  • Menorca, 17. - 24.03.2013

    Menorca, 17. - 24.03.2013

    Visiting the Balearic lizards

    clearpx
  • Peloponnese, 20. - 27.10.2012

    Peloponnese, 20. - 27.10.2012

    Autumn trip on Peloponnese

    clearpx
  • Montenegro, 27.07. - 04.08.2012

    Montenegro, 27.07. - 04.08.2012

    Summer trip in the mountains of Montenegro

    clearpx
  • Skyros & Evia, 26.05. - 04.06.2012

    Skyros & Evia, 26.05. - 04.06.2012

    Our search for the legendary giant lizards...

    clearpx
  • Crete, 06. - 13.04.2012

    Crete, 06. - 13.04.2012

    Searching for flowers and lizards on Crete...

    clearpx
  • Andalucia, 10. - 18.03.2012

    Andalucia, 10. - 18.03.2012

    A hot week full of herping highlights in Southwestern Andalucia

    clearpx
  • Northern Spain, 02. - 13.09.2011

    Northern Spain, 02. - 13.09.2011

    Herpetological trip to the northwest of Spain: the mountains west of Leon, the Atlantic coast south of A Coruña and the Picos de Europa.

    clearpx
  • Aegean Islands, 28.05. - 13.06.2011

    Aegean Islands, 28.05. - 13.06.2011

    Five islands in two weeks: Kythira, Pori, Milos, Kimolos and Sifnos

    clearpx
  • Rhodos & Kastellorizo, 12. - 19.03.2011

    Rhodos & Kastellorizo, 12. - 19.03.2011

    Trip to the easternmost island of Greece...

    clearpx
  • Central spain, 25.09. - 03.10.2010

    Central spain, 25.09. - 03.10.2010

    Iberolacertas within Sierra de Gredos, Pena de Francia and Sierra de Guadarrama

    clearpx
  • Alps, 03. -17.07.2010

    Alps, 03. -17.07.2010

    Our first trip to the Alps led us to the Allgäu area, the Julian Alps and Carinthia

    clearpx
  • Northern Peloponnese, 3.-11.4.2010

    Northern Peloponnese, 3.-11.4.2010

    Four Podarcis species in one area!

    clearpx
  • Northern Greece, 01. - 15. 06.2009

    Northern Greece, 01. - 15. 06.2009

    Great trip to the Pindos mountains...

    clearpx
  • Sicily, 28.03. - 04.04.2009

    Sicily, 28.03. - 04.04.2009

    Orchid trip to eastern Sicily

    clearpx
  • Samos, September 2008 / 2009

    Samos, September 2008 / 2009

    Chamaeleons, Trachylepis and beautiful beaches...

    clearpx
  • Spain, November 2008 / February 2009

    Spain, November 2008 / February 2009

    Lizards in the Alicante Province

    clearpx
  • Eifel region

    Eifel region

    Our local "playground": botanical highlights, meadows with numerous butterflies and some herpetofauna...

    clearpx
  • Nice beach at Kokkino Nero at the wooded eastern slopes of Mount Ossa

    During our trip we saw great mountain ranges with a remarkable flora and a rich herpetofauna – combined with summer temperatures and a (mostly) blue sky: the perfect ingredients for a wonderful trip! Although this time, there was no “must-have” reptile species on our list, our report is somehow “lizard-focused”.

    Ossa

    Our first station, the Ossa mountains, can be reached from Thessaloniki airport in 2 hours. Although only 1900 m high and not very extensive, this mountain range combines very different landscapes: the eastern shores to the Aegean Sea are green and densely wooded, the western slopes are extremely arid. The high altitude areas consist of karstified limestone. Hence, these mountains show a rich flora and fauna.

  • At the seashore we found Typhlops vermicularis and

  • Lacerta trilineata trilineata

  • In the forest we came across this Podarcis erhardii riveti with remarkable pattern. We noticed Podarcis erhardii and Podarcis muralis at several places in the Ossa Mountains, in the Vikos-National Park and in the Smolikas area. Sometimes it was difficult to distinguish between these species. We didn’t find any geographical separation – P. erhardii at low altitudes and P. muralis at high altitudes – either.

    We had a beautiful but exhausting hike from the village of Spilia to the Mount Ossa. Later on, we realized that now there is an asphalt road (which didn’t exist in our map) up to the Kissavou-refuge. From there, it is not far to the Ossa peak. We hoped to find Lacerta viridis in the peak area but the weather was stormy up there, so we weren’t lucky.

  • The high altitudes of Ossa are sparsely vegetated but anyhow rich in species.

  • At an altitude of 1400 m Ablepharus kitaibellii was very abundant. We noticed them sun-basking on stones.

  • Here, we also came across this female Anguis graeca and…

  • …Zamenis situla – the cloudy eyes show that this specimen was about to shed its skin

  • Descending from Ossa, we came across this adult Testudo marginata and subsequently…

  • …a juvenile specimen

  • Amata kruegeri

  • Parnassius mnemosyne on Astragalus angustifolius

  • The Western foothills of Ossa – in this dry habitat we found numerous species, e.g.:

  • Pelophylax kurtmuelleri in a cattle watering tank

  • Nemoptera sinuata

  • A fierce grasshopper: Saga hellenica

    Metsovo

    Leaving Ossa, we passed Larissa and Meteora and finally arrived at Metsovo which is a good starting point for trips to the Pindos, the Katara-Pass and the Peristeri mountains. The village with its ski resort is a popular destination for greek tourists and quite busy. However, we had a good time during our stay. The Katara-area has a remarkable flora but we had to realize that our knowledge about the greek mountain flora is rather limited…

  • View to Metsovo from the Katara-Pass

  • A typical plant of the Katara area: Campanula hawkinsiana

  • Dactylorhiza kalopissii with dotted lip

  • At lower altitudes in the Pindos mountains: Iris sintenisii

  • Time and again tortoises (Testudo hermanni) were crossing the roads

    We took the extremely dangerous – although asphalted – road with numerous rockfalls from Metsovo towards the village of Haliki in the mountains. Up there, we were rewarded by wonderful orchid meadows with Cephalanthera longifolia, Coeloglossum viride, Dactylorhiza sambucina, Orchis pinetorum and Orchis ustulata. At an altitude of 1600 m we found a pond with five amphibian species: Pelophylax sp., Bombina variegata, Hyla arborea, Mesotriton alpestris and probably Triturus macedonikus. Our way home was an adventure, as a thunderstorm turned the road into a muddy torrent.

  • Between Metsovo and Haliki

  • Dactylorhiza sambucina

  • A pale variant of Orchis pinetorum

  • Podarcis muralis

  • Bombina variegata

  • Hyla arborea

    One of our most beautiful hikes led us to the lonely Peristeri mountains. At the high altitudes of that range Lacerta agilis bosnica occurs – after intensive search we finally found those lizards. At lower altitudes Lacerta viridis viridis was common but very shy and difficult to photograph – we finally managed to take a snapshot of a specimen sitting on the road.

  • Mount Peristeri – habitat of…

  • Lacerta agilis bosnica: male

  • A female

  • Another male

  • Crocus veluchensis flourishing in beneath of a snowfield

  • Male Lacerta viridis viridis at Metsovo

    Parga

    After our stay in the mountains we spent two days at the beach of Parga – with a little bit of herping in the surrounding wetlands. At summer temperatures our herping activities were limited to the morning hours and the evening.

  • The islets off the coast of Parga

  • Extensive wetlands in the area of Parga: home of

  • Natrix natrix persa…

  • …and Natrix tessellata

  • Pelophylax sp (ridibundus or epeiroticus)

  • Emys orbicularis hellenica

  • In Greece, Lacerta trilineata major can only be found at the west coast

    Vikos National Park

    After some hot days at the sea we longed for the moderate climate in the Vikos National Park. But meanwhile, the summer had also started in the mountains. So our hiking tours were not too extensive.

  • Morning sun in the Vikos gorge

  • Algyroides nigropunctatus

  • Podarcis erhardii

  • Himantoglossum caprinum

  • Ophrys epirotica

  • Ophrys cerastes: note the hairless inner sides of the lateral lobes, separating this species from O. oestrifera

  • View from the Astraka refuge to the Timfi Mountains: A good place for spring flowers like…

  • …Armeria rumelica and

  • Saxifraga marginata

  • Assembling of Libythea celtis at the shore of the Voidomatis river

  • Apatura metis

    Konitsa and Smolikas

    Konitsa is a good starting point for trips to the Smolikas: it’s a busy place with some hotels and a basic infrastructure with shops and filling stations. The area beyond is sparsely populated with endless forests and mountain ranges – for us this is one of the highlights in Greece. Due to the completion of the motorway across the Pindos, there is now hardly any traffic on the quite scenic route (E90) from Konitsa to Siatista. Hence, we really enjoyed our excursion in that area.

  • The village of Konitsa at the western foothills of the Smolikas range

  • View from the southern slopes of Smolikas to the Timfi mountains

  • Geranium versicolor

  • Marshy meadow with Dactylorhiza saccifera and other Dactylorhiza species

  • Dactylorhiza baumanniana

  • Orchis coriophora

  • Lacerta viridis

  • Rana graeca

  • Cordulegaster heros

  • Pinguicula crystallina hirtiflora

  • Lilium albanicum: a botanical highlight of that area

    Epilog: Chalkidiki

    With regard to our return flight from Thessaloniki we spent our last day at a beach hotel near Gerakini on the Chalkidiki (40 minutes from the airport): Our last day for herping!

  • Lacerta viridis (meridionalis?)

  • Podarcis erhardii

  • Psakoudia beach: home of

  • …Lacerta viridis meridionalis and…

  • …Testudo graeca

  • A juvenile Testudo graeca

  • Bufo viridis

  • Mediodactylus kotschyi visiting our hotel at night

    Acknowledgment:

    Johannes Flohe for botanical tips.

    Jeroen Speybroeck for herping advices.