Rhodos & Kastellorizo, 27.3. – 2.4.2017

After an endless winter break it was finally time for the official 2017 season opening. The destination: the Greek islands of Rhodos and Kastellorizo which we had already visited in 2011. The team: our British colleagues Paul Lambourne, Alison Guest and Trevor Willis plus Peter (Birgit had to work, unfortunately). The main goal of this trip were the local Lacertids, of course. However, the non-European team members were particularly interested in the Salamanders of Kastellorizo – strange people, those Brits… Thanks to Thomas Bader for herpetological tips.

  • Linosa, 12.-17.06.2018

    Linosa, 12.-17.06.2018

    The Robinson Crusoe Project

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  • Kastellorizo & Nisyros, 12.-21.05.2018

    Kastellorizo & Nisyros, 12.-21.05.2018

    At the edge of Europe (and beyond)

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  • Milos & Serifos, 14. – 21.04.2018

    Milos & Serifos, 14. – 21.04.2018

    Spring trip to the Western Cyclades

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  • Southeastern Spain, 10.2016 – 11.2017

    Southeastern Spain, 10.2016 – 11.2017

    Betic lizards – a photo documentation

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  • Northwestern Spain, 16.-23.9.2017

    Northwestern Spain, 16.-23.9.2017

    Reptile Rallye on the Iberian Peninsula

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  • Ionian Islands, 25.5.-5.6.2017

    Ionian Islands, 25.5.-5.6.2017

    Cruising through Ulysses’ homeland

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  • Portugal, 14. – 21.4.2017

    Portugal, 14. – 21.4.2017

    Lizard safari at the Atlantic coast

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  • Rhodos & Kastellorizo, 27.3. – 2.4.2017

    Rhodos & Kastellorizo, 27.3. – 2.4.2017

    Season Opening 2017

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  • Pyrenees, 2008 - 2016

    Pyrenees, 2008 - 2016

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

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  • Sicily & Aeolian Islands, 26.5. – 6.6.2016

    Sicily & Aeolian Islands, 26.5. – 6.6.2016

    Mission Volcano! Smoking mountains and rare reptiles

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  • Astypalaia & Naxos, 25.3.-3.4.2016

    Astypalaia & Naxos, 25.3.-3.4.2016

    Hellas reloaded – Back in Europe’s biodiversity lab

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  • Spain, 29.8.-11.9.2015

    Spain, 29.8.-11.9.2015

    Biodiversity on the south-eastern tangent

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  • Montenegro, 2. – 11.7.2015

    Montenegro, 2. – 11.7.2015

    Lizard Safari in the mountains of Montenegro

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  •  Malta, 3. – 6.4.2015

    Malta, 3. – 6.4.2015

    The exclusive Podarcis filfolensis Home Story!

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  • Oman, 6.–15.3.2015

    Oman, 6.–15.3.2015

    Adventures in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula

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  • Central Spain, 29.8. - 14.9.2014

    Central Spain, 29.8. - 14.9.2014

    14 days in the heat of Castile

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  • Lefkada, Kefalonia & Akarnania, 24.5. - 3.6.2014

    Lefkada, Kefalonia & Akarnania, 24.5. - 3.6.2014

    Reptile adventures in Western Greece

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  • Mallorca / Alicante - 15.-23.03.2014

    Mallorca / Alicante - 15.-23.03.2014

    2014 Season Kick-off with 16 reptile species

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  • Corsica, 07.-17.09.2013

    Corsica, 07.-17.09.2013

    Mountains, sea and rock lizards

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  • Portugal, 13. - 20.07.2013

    Portugal, 13. - 20.07.2013

    Lizard hunting in Central Portugal

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  • Romania, 24.05. - 03.06.2013

    Romania, 24.05. - 03.06.2013

    Herping adventures from the Black Sea coast to the Iron Gate

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  • Menorca, 17. - 24.03.2013

    Menorca, 17. - 24.03.2013

    Visiting the Balearic lizards

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  • Peloponnese, 20. - 27.10.2012

    Peloponnese, 20. - 27.10.2012

    Autumn trip on Peloponnese

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  • Montenegro, 27.07. - 04.08.2012

    Montenegro, 27.07. - 04.08.2012

    Summer trip in the mountains of Montenegro

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  • Skyros & Evia, 26.05. - 04.06.2012

    Skyros & Evia, 26.05. - 04.06.2012

    Our search for the legendary giant lizards...

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  • Crete, 06. - 13.04.2012

    Crete, 06. - 13.04.2012

    Searching for flowers and lizards on Crete...

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  • Andalucia, 10. - 18.03.2012

    Andalucia, 10. - 18.03.2012

    A hot week full of herping highlights in Southwestern Andalucia

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  • 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.

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  • 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

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  • Rhodos & Kastellorizo, 12. - 19.03.2011

    Rhodos & Kastellorizo, 12. - 19.03.2011

    Trip to the easternmost island of Greece...

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • Northern Peloponnese, 3.-11.4.2010

    Northern Peloponnese, 3.-11.4.2010

    Four Podarcis species in one area!

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  • Northern Greece, 01. - 15. 06.2009

    Northern Greece, 01. - 15. 06.2009

    Great trip to the Pindos mountains...

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  • Sicily, 28.03. - 04.04.2009

    Sicily, 28.03. - 04.04.2009

    Orchid trip to eastern Sicily

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  • Spain, November 2008 / February 2009

    Spain, November 2008 / February 2009

    Lizards in the Alicante Province

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  • Samos, September 2008 / 2009

    Samos, September 2008 / 2009

    Chamaeleons, Trachylepis and beautiful beaches...

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  • Eifel region

    Eifel region

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

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  • The team (from left to right): Peter, Trevor, Paul, Alison – the latter two already joined us during our Pyrenees adventure in August 2016.

    27.03.:

    Journey from Düsseldorf to Rhodos via Athens – there are no direct flights in spring. Arrival at Rhodos Airport: 10:30 pm.

    28.03.:

    The British colleagues were not expected until 29.3. – Thus, a complete day remained for lizarding! On Rhodos, three Lacertid lizards occur: Ophisops elegans, Lacerta trilineata and Anatololacerta pelasgiana. Now, the winter break was officially finished with an extensive photo session with this species. A perfect lizard day!

  • Sunrise: time to start searching for lizards!

  • Anatololacerta pelasgiana – male specimen close to the coast

  • Anatololacerta pelasgiana – female

  • Ophisops elegans (male) – This species can be easily observed in dune habitats.

  • Ophisops elegans (male)

  • Ophisops elegans (female)

  • Ophisops elegans (female)

  • Lacerta trilineata diplochondrodes: The subspecies from the eastern Aegean area and the European Black Sea coast differ from the nominate subspecies by the bluish colors on their neck.

  • Lacerta trilineata diplochondrodes, male

  • 2:35 pm - Anatololacerta pelasgiana: Mating starts with the male biting in the flanks of the female.

  • 2:36 pm – Mating takes extremely long in this species: This pair remained in the shown position for about 20 minutes (in comparison to this, mating frequently only takes a few seconds in Podarcis species)…

  • 2:54 pm – 20 minutes later: an almost peaceful scenery

  • 3:02 pm – Even after copulation was finished, the male kept biting the female’s flank.

  • Males from the mountains of Rhodos show beautiful colors.

  • In the same area, Ophisops elegans can be found.

  • Mauremys rivulata

  • Cerinthia cerysi

  • Ophrys lucis

  • Ophrys cretica

  • Ophrys regis-ferdinandis

    29.03.:

    A sunny morning: Time for another lizard photo session in the Lindos area – and a nice surprise: Trachylepis aurata. This rather shy skink could be photographed sunbasking. Afterwards it was time to pick up the British colleagues at the airport. They arrived at 11:30 am. After everyone had shed some tears of happiness we started making plans: In the afternoon, our transfer flight to Kastellorizo was scheduled – two hours left for herping on Rhodos. We decided to visit a known habitat for Blanus strauchi, one of the species on Paul’s tick list. Soon, we found an adult specimen… quite lucky. Afterwards, we headed back to the airport. From there, an Olympic Air propeller aircraft brought us to Kastellorizo airport (besides of us, there was only one additional passenger). On the island, the local cab brought us to our accommodation where we dropped our luggage and when immediately started herping. In the village of Kastellorizo, there are some overgrown areas with ruins: perfect herping spots! On the top of Paul’s wishlist was Lyciasalamandra luschani – A wish which could be easily fulfilled, as the whole island is full of those critters. Paul was blissfully happy… Turning stones also delivered some Ablepharus (budaki) anatolicus as well as Xerotyphlops vermicularis, Blanus strauchi and Ophiomorus punctatissimus. It’s amazing that on such a small island all the three Greek reptile species occur which live underground. A successful day, which was wrapped-up in a romantic Greek tavern in the harbor.

  • Coast at Lindos: perfect scenery for lizarding

  • Anatololacerta pelasgiana

  • Trachylepis aurata

  • Blanus strauchi

  • Anatololacerta pelasgiana with contrasting pattern

  • Kastellorizo airport: This beautiful lizard trip got out of control somehow, as soon as the British colleagues arrived – the focus switched towards rather slicky creatures:

  • Alison admiring Lyciasalamandra luschani

  • Blanus strauchi

  • Xerotyphlops vermicularis

  • Ophiomorus punctatissimus: Although the populations from Peloponnese and southern Turkey (including Kastellorizo) have been separated about 12 Mio years ago, the animals from both regions still look the same. It seems that this species is well engineered from an evolutionary perspective.

  • Hemidactylus turcicus

  • Kastellorizo: View to Turkish mainland

  • The locals have their own specific relationship to reptiles...

    30.03.:

    The weather was sunny and we started searching for snakes. Anyhow, turning stones didn’t deliver – but luckily we had Alison in our team: she found an adult Eirenis modestus. Apart from numerous snake eyed skinks we spotted some Anatololacerta sp. at the village. This was extremely interesting: So far, there are no records of Anatololacerta on Kastellorizo in literature. But during our stay in 2011, we already came across a single specimen. This time, we found 3 specimens. Hence, there seems to be a stable population of these lizards on Kastellorizo. A moment of scientific glory! Amazing. Furthermore, it would be interesting to know whether these lizards are Anatololacerta pelasgiana pelasgiana like on Rhodos or if the belong to the Turkish (sub-)species budaki. However, parts of the team started to complain: they wanted to continue searching for snakes – such ignoramuses… So we started a long hike to the barren center of the island to search for snakes. Even in this dry and karstic landscape we found Lyciasalamandra luschani everywhere. Besides of a juvenile Eirenis modestus, which unfortunately disappeared in a rock crevice, we also found some Bufotes viridis. But no more snake records, unfortunately…

  • Sunrise over the Turkish mainland

  • Ablepharus (budaki) anatolicus: The specimens from Kastellorizo (and adjoining Turkish mainland) look like Ablepharus budaki. But genetically they differ significantly and therefore could be regarded as a separate species. In this case, the name Ablepharus anatolicus would be available.

  • Alison found this adult Eirenis modestus – it is always useful to have competent women in the team.

  • Team Bronski Beat photographing Eirenis modestus

  • Female Anatololacerta sp. – they look more or less the same as their relatives on Rhodos.

  • A male Anatololacerta of the Kastellorizo population

  • Laudakia stellio is widespread on Kastellorizo

  • Laudakio stellio with nice blue colors

  • Bufotes viridis

  • View on Kastellorizo

    31.03.:

    The day started with rolling thunder and afterwards it rained during the whole morning – mandering weather! Well equipped with cameras and umbrellas, Trevor and Peter went out bravely into the pouring rain (while Paul preferred to enjoy his beauty sleep). The salamanders were everywhere: on the road, in the grass and even on walls. These amphibians climb remarkably well, they even clamber on solid cement walls. In the afternoon, the sun came out. But now, we already had to go to the airport. Our flight back to Rhodos was scheduled for 3 pm. On Rhodos, we received our hire car and went to an area where we hoped to find Hemorrhois nummifer. We searched a lot but without success: the only findings were a Testudo graeca and some Ablepharus kitaibelii.

  • Mandering weather!

  • Trevor with fashionable umbrella

  • Lyciasalamandra luschani is a very good climber

  • Lyciasalamandra luschani: these critters even clamber on cement walls

  • Lyciasalamandra luschani practicing pull-ups

  • Wet morning...

  • Kastellorizo International Airport: Paul & Alison waiting for their flight back to Rhodos

  • Testudo graeca: probably an introduced specimen as this species doesn’t occur on Rhodos (There is only a population of Testudo hermanni, which has been introduced as well).

  • Admitted: this smartphone shot of Ablepharus kitaibelii is rather un-ambitious.

    01.04.:

    Our last day on Rhodos and the final chance to find some snakes. But obviously, the Karma of this trip wasn’t the best since our return from Kastellorizo. We wasted ridiculously much time searching for Hermorrhois nummifer – without success… The only findings were Anatololacerta pelasgiana, Lacerta trilineata and some (doubtful) records of Trachylepis aurata. In the evening it was time to say goodbye to the English colleagues: everyone shed some tears, emotional moments… Thanks a lot, boys and girls – you were great travel companions!

  • A female Lacerta trilineata with beautiful bluish throat

  • Alison and Paul enjoying a quick Greek snack before flying back to the UK

    02.04.:

    Return flight to Düsseldorf.