Wednesday, May 13, 2020

German spring - Reptiles

Spring is also the best time to observe reptiles in Europe. The Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis) is the most common reptile around and it was the first one I found this year. A lot of patience was necessary to get a portrait shot of a quite shy Viviparous Lizard (Zootoca vivipara).

Anguis fragilis - Slow Worm
Anguis fragilis - Slow Worm

Zootoca vivipara - Viviparous Lizard
Zootoca vivipara - Viviparous Lizard

The Aesculapian Snake (Zamenis longissimus) is very rare in Germany. There are only a few isolated and small populations in the country, I am very lucky to live in the center of one of those. This  spring I was able to find three juveniles. Young Aesculapian Snakes have a beautiful pattern!

Zamenis longissimus - Aesculapian Snake, juvenile
Zamenis longissimus - Aesculapian Snake, juvenile

Zamenis longissimus - Aesculapian Snake, juvenile
Zamenis longissimus - Aesculapian Snake, juvenile
The sun was already gone, when I saw a pair of Sand Lizards (Lacerta agilis) still hanging around on a tree trunk. Regarding Grass Snakes (Natrix natrix), 2020 has already been a successful year. I observed quite some of these good swimmers around different lakes and ponds. 

Lacerta agilis - Sand Lizard, gravid female
Lacerta agilis - Sand Lizard, gravid female

Lacerta agilis - Sand Lizard, male
Lacerta agilis - Sand Lizard, male

Natrix natrix - Grass Snake
Natrix natrix - Grass Snake

Samira found what I consider to be the most secretive reptile of Germany, a very pretty Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca)... perfect conclusion for this year's spring time.

Coronella austriaca - Smooth Snake
Coronella austriaca - Smooth Snake

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

German spring - Amphibians

I spent another winter in Costa Rica, so I was able to flee from the cold and enjoy the tropical flora and fauna. Back in Germany, I also appreciate the European species. The timing is perfect, since Amphibians are by far most active during spring time.
Unfortunately I missed the annual meeting of dozens of Common Frogs (Rana temporaria) in their breeding pools, but I was lucky enough to find a single one sitting on a meadow close to a pond. The Common Toads (Bufo bufo) arrive a little bit later at the ponds and also they stay much longer in the water before they go back to the forest, so I was able to watch many of them. 

Rana temporaria - Common Frog
Rana temporaria - Common Frog

Bufo bufo - Common Toad
Bufo bufo - Common Toad

Bufo bufo - Common Toads, mating
Bufo bufo - Common Toads, mating

Last year I showed a picture of an adult Barred Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra terrestris) at the Amphibious welcome in Germany So now it is time for a picture of a cute Salamander Larva. 

Salamandra salamandra terrestris - Barred Fire Salamander, Larva
Salamandra salamandra terrestris - Barred Fire Salamander, Larva

You can tell the Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus) is a male by the webbed hind feet and a low, smooth crest along the back that continues into a slightly higher crest on the tail, ending in a thread-like tip.

Lissotriton helveticus - Palmate Newt
Lissotriton helveticus - Palmate Newt, male 

Samira and I were super happy to find a beautiful and rare European Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates fuscus). We named this little cutie "Klumpi". The Pool Frog (Pelophylax lessonae) is way more common, but still very pretty.

Pelobates fuscus - European Spadefoot Toad
Pelobates fuscus - European Spadefoot Toad, "Klumpi"

Pelophylax lessonae - Pool Frog
Pelophylax lessonae - Pool Frog

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Handsome herps

In conclusion of this years Costa Rica stay, I want to show some of my favorite reptile & amphibian pictures I took during the last weeks. Starting with an impressive Annulated Tree Boa (Corallus annulatus). In Costa Rica, this boa only occurs in the Caribbean lowlands. The snake was about 150 cm (59 in) long.

Corallus annulatus - Annulated Tree Boa
Corallus annulatus - Annulated Tree Boa

Corallus annulatus - Annulated Tree Boa
Annulated Tree Boa, portrait

The Central American Banded Gecko (Coleonyx mitratus) with its beautiful pattern and cute large head and eyes is my favorite Costa Rican gecko. They can be quite common in the right habitats in the northwest of the country, but not easy to find because of their nocturnal and secretive behaviour.

Coleonyx mitratus - Central American Banded Gecko
Coleonyx mitratus - Central American Banded Gecko

Another observation that I am very happy about, is this amazing Blue-sided Leaf Frog (Agalychnis annae). It was the first time for me to find this quite rare frog in the wild. After seeing hundreds of his red-eyed "cousins", it was really cool to find this golden-eyed beauty.

Agalychnis annae - Blue-sided Leaf Frog
Agalychnis annae - Blue-sided Leaf Frog

The Emerald Glass Frog (Espadarana prosoblepon) is more common and I have seen many of them during my night hikes, but for the first time, I was able to take a picture of its transparent belly. The process was very similar to the photography of the Reticulated Glass Frog one year ago.

Espadarana prosoblepon - Emerald Glass Frog
Espadarana prosoblepon - Emerald Glass Frog

Espadarana prosoblepon - Emerald Glass Frog
Espadarana prosoblepon - Emerald Glass Frog

Definitley one of my favorite Costa Rican snakes: False Tree Coral (Rhinobothryum bovallii). It is simply amazing to find this stunning and colorful snake climbing in the dark. 

Rhinobothryum bovallii - False Tree Coral