Friday, June 21, 2019

Nahe valley

The Nahe is a river in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, Germany, a left tributary to the Rhine. The name Nahe is derived from the Latin word Nava, which is supposed to be based upon the Celtic origin for the wild river. So much for the small introduction with wikipedia support. But yes, talking about the wild river in Germany, I think it has earned the name. This river is one of the very last spots in Germany, where the Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata) occurs. In the Vineyards around the river lives another gem: the Western Green Lizard (Lacerta bilineata). I spent a nice day in the beautiful area near Bad Kreuznach.

The river Nahe
The river Nahe

Pelophylax ridibundus - Marsh Frog
Pelophylax ridibundus - Marsh Frog

Calopteryx splendens - Banded Demoiselle ♂
Calopteryx splendens - Banded Demoiselle ♂

Fulica atra - Eurasian Coot
Fulica atra - Eurasian Coot

Natrix tessellata - Dice Snake
Natrix tessellata - Dice Snake

Natrix tessellata - Dice Snake
Natrix tessellata - Dice Snake

Habitat close to the vineyards
Habitat close to the vineyards

Lacerta bilineata - Western Green Lizard, juvenile
Lacerta bilineata - Western Green Lizard, juvenile

Lacerta bilineata - Western Green Lizard
Lacerta bilineata - Western Green Lizard

Monday, May 6, 2019

Scaly Emerald

Lacerta viridis - European Green Lizard

The German name of the European Green Lizard (Lacerta viridis) is "Smaragdeidechse", which translates to "Emerald Lizard". Both names fit very well and so the coloration of this handsome reptile is not really a suprise. 

Lacerta viridis - European Green Lizard

Compared to the Dalmatian Wall Lizard (Podarcis melisellensis) in the top left corner, the Emerald Lizard looks huge.

Lacerta viridis - European Green Lizard

Lacerta viridis - European Green Lizard

I carefully sneaked up to a nicely colored male specimen. I got very close and took a bunch of pictures.

Lacerta viridis - European Green Lizard

After proving my patience, I was lucky too: My bright green model was not only used to my presence, it was obviously even bored - and yawned! This observation and a collection of great pictures made my day.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Frog Rescue

When I came across this manhole, I checked if some animals were trapped inside. And yes, I found six Marsh Frogs (Pelophylax ridibundus) and one Agile Frog (Rana dalmatina). It took a little time, but I got all of them and released them at a pond nearby. I seized the oportunity and took a few pictures of the Agile Frog, it was the only one I saw during this trip. 

Manhole

The descent

The search begins...

Pelophylax ridibundus - Marsh Frog

Rana dalmatina - Agile Frog

Rana dalmatina - Agile Frog

Saturday, May 4, 2019

One week in Croatia, Part ⅠⅠ

Lake Vrana -the biggest lake of Croatia- and its surrounding areas were proclaimed a Nature Park in 1999. This unique habitat is of inestimable value and is characterized by a high biodiversity. In addition to 249 registered bird species, there are also numerous reptiles. 

Habitat - Lake Vrana

The Blue-throated Keeled Lizard (Algyroides nigropunctatus) can be seen in rocky areas and stone walls.

Algyroides nigropunctatus - Blue-throated Keeled Lizard

As with most lizards, it pays to be patient again. The male specimens with the blue coloration around the head are particularly photogenic.

Algyroides nigropunctatus - Blue-throated Keeled Lizard

Exceptionally beautiful Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata var. flavescens). The Croatian name is "Ribarica", which means "fisherwoman". They can swim & dive very well and they prey mainly on fish. 

Natrix tessellata var. flavescens - Dice Snake

I saw a couple of these handsome little aliens: Caterpillar of the Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea didyma).

Melitaea didyma - Spotted Fritillary, Caterpillar

Beautiful landscape and perfect habitat for reptiles.

Habitat - Stone walls and shrubby vegetation

Dahl's Whip Snake (Platyceps najadum) is one of the fastest snakes, I have ever seen. Luckily, I was fast enough to get pictures of this nice snake.

Platyceps najadum - Dahl's Whip Snake

With about 50cm (19.7in) the Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata) is by far the biggest lizard in Croatia. These "little dinosaurs" were a bit shyer than their smaller relatives.


At the very last day, just after dusk, I found the highlight of this trip: An European Cat Snake (Telescopus fallax) climbing in a stone wall of an old ruin.



...perfect conclusion!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

One week in Croatia, Part Ⅰ

For the past few months, I have been working as a naturalist guide in Costa Rica and so nature has been my "office". Before I have to go back to a regular office, working as a graphic designer, I spent one week in Croatia. A European paradise for herping and nature photography.

Habitat

Podarcis siculus campestris - Italian Wall Lizard

The Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus campestris) is very photogenic. I saw many of these pretty lizards. Luckily they are not very shy and they can even be curious.

Testudo hermanni "hercegovinensis" - Dalmatian tortoise

Dalmatian Tortoise (Testudo hermanni boettgeri var. hercegovinensis) is a subspecies of Hermann's Tortoise. This tortoise is spread east of the Adriatic in parts of the former Dalmatia, the Croatian coastal regions, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, the northernmost habitat of tortoises in Europe.

Balkan Whip Snake - Hierophis gemonensis

The Balkan Whip Snake (Hierophis gemonensis) is in my opinion one of the most underrated snakes. It has a wide range and is common within much of its range. Nevertheless, I think it's a beautiful snake!

Limenitis reducta - Southern White Admiral

I am mainly looking for reptiles, but with the macro ready, I always enjoy seeing some insects. The Southern White Admiral (Limenitis reducta) has a wingspan of approximately 50 mm.

Pseudopus apodus - European Legless Lizard

The European Legless Lizard or Sheltopusik (Pseudopus apodus)  consumes arthropods, snails and slugs, and even small mammals.

Habitat

Emys orbicularis - European Pond Terrapin

The European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis) is very shy, so you have to approach them slowly and carefully to take some pictures.

Hyla arborea - European Tree Frog

Mainly due to the loss of breeding habitats, the European Tree Frog (Hyla arborea) displays a considerable decline in West and Central Europe. Luckily in Croatia I found some of these beautiful frogs in their perfect habitats.

Natrix natrix persa - Balkan Grass Snake

I was able to watch this juvenile Balkan Grass Snake (Natrix natrix persa) hunting for tadpoles.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Amphibious welcome in Germany

After three marvellous months in Costa Rica, I am back in Germany. Of course it's great to finally see my girlfriend, family and friends again. But the temperature drop was enormous and unfortunately I am not surrounded by that much nature here as I was in Costa Rica. Luckily there are still some beautiful amphibians around. Shortly after my arrival in Germany I was able to see some of those. For example the Barred Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra terrestris) and the Alpine Newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris). Like most amphibians they are nocturnal, so I keep doing night tours... unlike in Costra Rica, here in Germany I don't need to watch out for venemous snakes like the Fer de Lance (Bothrops asper). 

Salamandra salamandra terrestris - Barred Fire Salamander

Ichthyosaura alpestris - Alpine Newt


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Tenorio Volcano NP - Rio Celeste

Volcano Tenorio National Park is located in the north of Costa Rica. The 11,900 ha of the park include rain forest and primary cloud forest. Many different species of animals live in this park, for example the rarely seen Tapir. The main reason for a visit is the beautiful river Rio Celeste and its waterfall. What makes Rio Celeste so unique is the name-giving color: Bright turquoise-blue!

Typical "I was here" pic, next to the NP sign.
The trails can be muddy, slippery and steep... so I would recommend hiking shoes or boots (at the entrance they have boots for rent). Meanwhile, the Tenorio National Park is quite popular, so if you don't want to hang around with many tourists, you should arrive early in the morning. Especially at the waterfall, it gets quite crowded later in the day and there might be "selfie-jams". Swimming is forbidden, which protects nature and is beneficial for landscape photography.

Stairway to the waterfall
Rio Celeste - Waterfall
Surrounded by this amazing landscape, it can be hard to focus on the search for reptiles. It was funny to see almost all the other visitors walking past this small venomous snake, without seeing it. I showed the snake to people who politely asked me what I was photographing.  Also I gave them some quick information about this interesting animal.

Bothriechis schlegelii - Eyelash Viper
Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii)
It was way easier to spot the curious White-nosed Coati. Feeding wild animals is prohibited in the national park. Some people still do it anyway, so the Coatis often come close to humans, begging for food.
Nasua narica - White-nosed Coati
White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica)
Rio Celeste
Spilotes pullatus - Tiger Rat Snake
Do you see this gorgeous creature?
My favorite observation of the day was this -at least 2 meter long- Tiger Rat Snake (Spilotes pullatus). It was climbing elegantly in the trees at a height of about 4 meters. This snake is non venomous and diurnal.

Spilotes pullatus - Tiger Rat Snake
Tiger Rat Snake (Spilotes pullatus)
Rio Celeste
Rio Celeste
The landscape with its fantastic river is a very good reason to visit the park. There is also the possibility to observe some animals. I was very happy about the sightings of the snakes! But I can reassure those who want to enjoy the landscape without seeing any snakes: if you don't look for them, it is very unlikely to see any. Of course they are around - that's the jungle.