Linosa, 12.-17.06.2018

The black lizards of Linosa Island (south of Sicily) had been on our bucket list for a long time. However, we always had been scared off as the journey to this remote island is complicated and takes a lot of time. Anyway, in 2018 we decided to visit this tiny island of only 5 square kilometers: As expected, getting there was a logistic challenge – but what we found is one of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean.

  • 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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  • Our trip to Linosa

    12.06. – Getting there, 1st step

    In the evening we took a plane from Düsseldorf to Rome and slept in a B&B at the coast near Fiumicino Airport: noisy Fiumicino flight path, lukewarm pizza – Bella Italia!

    13.06. – Getting there, 2nd step

    In the morning, we had some time to explore the Fiumicino coast: In the greater Rome area you shouldn’t have too high expectations regarding the beaches. But at least we came across same Italian Wall Lizards (Podarcis siculus campestris) and Geckos (Tarentola mauritanica). At noon, we headed back to the airport for our connecting flight to Lampedusa. After our arrival on Lampedusa, we checked in at our accommodation and started to explore the island. No, Lampedusa is definitely not an extraordinary beautiful island: a naked limestone plateau with functional architecture, a lot of litter and crowded with tourists. In the evening it started to rain and we stopped our field trip for an early dinner.

  • A beach section near Fiumicino

  • Podarcis siculus campestris

  • Podarcis siculus campestris

  • Podarcis siculus campestris

  • Approaching Lampedusa

  • Rain clouds over Lampedusa harbor…

    14.06. – Getting there, 3rd step

    Twice a day, there’s a ferry from Lampedusa to Linosa. Ours was scheduled for 9 a.m.. However, at the ticket office they were reluctant to give us our tickets and told us to wait until 8:30: Due to bad weather conditions it wasn’t sure if there would be a ferry at all (admittedly: it was quite windy). After some more discussions, we were proud owners of two ferry tickets ready to enter the boat. The captain informed all passengers that the weather was very bad. Though, the boat would leave to Linosa but there would be no boat back today… and not tomorrow… and the day after tomorrow – who knows… We hesitated for a moment – should we really do this trip? – and entered the boat. Actually, we should be the only(!) passengers on this passage. It turned out to be a hell of a ride. Crossing the rough sea was like a rollercoaster – nothing for the faint-hearted…

    After one hour we arrived at Linosa, were our host Guiseppe was already waiting for us: We made it, finally! The island welcomed us with a gorgeous Canary Island-like volcano landscape and – compared to Lampedusa – rich vegetation: a different world! Besides of us there were hardly any tourists on the island – a calm and relaxed place (Linosa has a few B&BS, a Trattoria which is open already in June and a small supermarket). We started exploring the island. To our pleasure, the local black subspecies of Maltese Wall Lizard (Podarcis filfolensis laurentiimuelleri) turned out to be quite common and not shy at all. These lizards are real opportunists always trying to find new food resources: We saw them licking pollen form flowers but also cannibalism seems to occur frequently. They can be found in areas with rich vegetation but also on bald coastal rocks. Furthermore, we came across the melanistic local morph of Chalcides ocellatus as well as Tarentola mauritanica. After this great nature experience we soon forgot our long journey to get here.

  • Linosa, finally!

  • The Faraglione at Linosa east coast – note the flowers in the foreground:

  • They are a popular food source for the lizards (Podarcis filfolensis laurentimuelleri)…

  • …the lizards are licking the pollen with great persistence.

  • Podarcis filfolensis laurentimuelleri on flower: similar behavior has been reported from other Podarcis island populations – e.g. Podarcis lilfordii or Podarcis levendis.

  • Podarcis filfolensis laurentimuelleri

  • Podarcis filfolensis laurentimuelleri

  • Podarcis filfolensis laurentimuelleri - pair

  • Foto session

  • Habitat with a view

  • After all this veggie food, this guy needs something real: cannibalism seems to occur frequently

  • Chalcides ocellatus: the dark morph of Linosa has been described as subsp. linosae. However, it seems to be rather a color morph of Chalcides ocellatus tiligugu.

  • Pair of Tarentola mauritanica

  • Punta Calcarella

  • Monte Nero

  • On Linosa, Pancratia maritima grows on volcanic ash instead of sandy dunes.

  • Linosa City

  • Caribbean-like style on Linosa

  • Cubism

    15.06. – The Robinson Crusoe-Effect

    Nice weather, but still windy: As announced, the ferries were out of service for the whole day. We started to get concerned about the white crestwaves on the sea: Like Robinson Crusoe, we were stranded on a lonely island – uncertain how long we had to stay here… (Actually, we left open who of us should be Robinson and who should be Friday).

    But we didn’t have time to worry as we still had some extensive photo sessions with the lizards on our schedule. Once again, they proved to be curious opportunists: fruits of the Opuntia plants – and also their flowers - were appreciated food sources, but also the cadaver of Tarentola mauritanica (and even fruit gum were accepted). As soon as we rested, the lizards approached to find out if we had something to eat: back-pack, camera, sunglasses – everything was subject of profound investigation. We don’t know if this confidingness is caused by the absence of predators like snakes on the island or by the fact that it has been populated by humans only since the 19th century. Similar behavior has been reported from some uninhabited Balearic islets. However: a fantastic spectacle with an impressive volcanic scenery! Time flew like an arrow and we headed back in the evening with countless pictures on our memory sticks.

  • Podarcis filfolensis laurentiimuelleri: Occasionally, bluish specimen can be found which resemble to the nominate subspecies from Filfola island.

  • Another bluish specimen

  • A nice female

  • Podarcis filfolensis eating the cadaver of Tarentola mauritanica

  • Rivals' dispute

  • Strong waves

  • Monte Nero

  • Mesembryanthemum crystallinum

  • Glaucium flavum growing as a pioneer on a lava field

  • Opuntia: popular food source for the lizards:

  • The flowers are tasty...

  • ...and also the fruit

  • Scenic lizard habitat

  • Someone's watching us...

  • ...there must be something to eat...

  • Yummie: fruit gums!

  • Podarcis filfolensis laurentiimuelleri

  • Podarcis filfolensis laurentiimuelleri

  • Podarcis filfolensis laurentiimuelleri

  • My playground!

  • The lizards permanently did signalling

  • Podarcis filfolensis laurentiimuelleri

  • Podarcis filfolensis laurentiimuelleri

  • Selfie?

  • Monte Nero

  • Monte Nero

  • The black gang

  • Podarcis filfolensis laurentiimuelleri

  • Podarcis filfolensis laurentiimuelleri

  • Chalcides ocellatus

  • The crater of Monte Nero

    16.06. – return trip, part 1

    In the morning, our host told us that today “maybe” a ferry would come – quite encouraging… But actually, despite of the fact that there was still strong wind, at 10:45 we were able to take a boat to Lampedusa. Before, we took some quick pictures of skinks and lizards yet, when it was time to say goodbye: Linosa will be an unforgettable memory for us.

    We arrived at Lampedusa at noon, our return flight to Rome was scheduled for the late evening. So we had enough time to explore the island. We hired a car: a shiny Fiat Punto which obviously had been produced before the invention of power steering (Note: on Lampedusa it is possible to rent a car without showing a driving license or any other document). As we had realized three days ago, Lampedusa doesn’t impress by scenic landscapes. However, the island is home for some reptile species: Besides of Tarentola mauritanica and Chalcides ocellatus also Macroprotodon cucullatus and Malpolon monspessulanus occur on the island – the latter two were only observed DOR. Furthermore, in Lampedusa city there are introduced populations of Podarcis siculus and Podarcis filfolensis – but we didn’t see any Lacertid there.

    Our flight to Rome was in time. However, our transfer to the hotel in Rome was delayed: Due to a marathon, the complete city of Rome was blocked resulting in a huge traffic jam. We arrived at our accommodation at 00:30 a.m.

  • Chalcides ocellatus

  • Chalcides ocellatus

  • The ferry approaches

  • Lampedusa

  • Tarentola mauritanica

  • Chalcides ocellatus: For Lampedusa subsp. zavattarii has been described, which is also closely related with Chalcides ocellatus tiligugu.

  • Macroprotodon cucullatus (DOR)

  • Malpolon monspessulanus (DOR)

  • The cliffs of Lampedusa

    17.06. – return trip, part 2

    As our return flight to Düsseldorf was scheduled for the evening we had plenty of time for sightseeing in Rome. In between the numerous old stones of Forum Romanum and the countless tourist groups we spotted some lizards at least: Podarcis muralis and Podarcis siculus. At noon, the heat forced us (as well as the lizards) to hide in the shadow: A lazy afternoon, waiting for the return flight.

    At 10 p.m. we finally arrived at home – happy and satisfied with this successful trip: Travelling to Linosa requires exorbitant effort – a trip you probably will do only once in your life. However, as a reward, we found an extraordinary beautiful island with its fascinating inhabitants.

  • Forum Romanum

  • Podarcis muralis nigriventris

  • Podarcis muralis nigriventris

  • Podarcis siculus campestris