2010 in pictures

Well, I have to say that 2010 has been my best year so far for my interest in Herpetology, many new findings for me, including some rare species such as Majorcan midwife toad (Alytes muletensis) in Majorca this summer, finding a Greek adder (Vipera berus bosniensis) on a snow covered mountain in northern Greece, and of course many rare amphibians during my first ever trip to the tropics in Costa Rica.

Majorcan midwife toad (Alytes muletensis) (C) Matt Wilson

I will keep many special memories from 2010 with me forever, such as seeing so many Ottoman vipers (Montivipera xanthina) in north-eastern Greece in the spring, finding a giant Sand Boa (Eryx jaculus) and seeing dozens of Eastern spadefoot toads (Pelobates syriacus) on Limnos as well as seeing 11 Algerian false smooth snakes (Macroprotodon cucullatus) in Menorca. Possibly the greatest highlight was spending several nights in the rainforest on the CRARC reserve owned by Brian Kubicki, and being able to see three Splendid leaf frogs (Cruziohyla calcarifer) in the wild, something very people will ever be able to do.

The rarest snake of 2010: Greek adder (Vipera berus bosniensis) (C) Matt Wilson

Besides the fantastic animals I have been able to see in the wild this year I have been very fortunate to have great company along with me on my travels so I would like to thank the following people who have joined me and helped me find the animals I’ve been searching for: Greece (May): Bobby Bok (NL), Thomas Reich (SW), Ilias Strachnis (GR), Majorca (July): Kev Byrnes (UK), Suzanne (UK), Samuel Pinya (ESP), Menorca (October) Bobby Bok (NL), Jan Van der Voort (B), Gijs Damen (B), Peter Engelen (B), Anniek Aerden (B), Jeroen Speybroeck (B), Leonard Zammit (MT), Costa Rica (Nov/Dec): Andrew Gray (UK), Brian Kubicki (USA). I’d also like to thank Carl Corbidge (UK) who I have joined numerous times in the field in the UK this year and who will be coming to both Portugal and Corfu with me in 2011.

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By Matt Wilson

Waiting for spring…(actually February!)

Well winter has well and truely arrived, and as I write this my street is covered with over one foot of snow, its probably no surprise to most people that I am not a winter person. Like many of the animals I pursue I wish I could just go underground and stay there until spring arrives in 2011. Luckily, this year I will have a trip in February to southern Portugal (Algarve) with my friend Carl Corbidge, with the hope of seeing a number of amphibian species in full breeding activity at that time. Some target amphibian species start reproducing in December until the spring in the southern Iberian peninsula, such as Spadefoot toads (Pelobates), Parsley frogs (Pelodytes), Newts (Triturus, Pleurodeles) and salamanders (Salamandra). However, several more species usually start breeding in February, such as Tree frogs (Hyla), Painted frogs (Discoglossus), Toads (Bufo) so with some luck we may see some explosive amphibian breeding!

Male Ottoman vipers (Montivipera xanthina) in combat, Lesvos, Greece (C) Paul Manning

Something else that made me think of spring this week was a photograph sent to me by Paul Manning, a wildlife photographer who spends a lot of time on the Greek island of Lesvos, and also has a nice website where you can see his photos. The photo that Paul sent to me is a fantastic shot of two male Ottoman vipers (Montivipera xanthina) doing the ‘combat dance’ where one snake aims to force the other snakes head to the ground to win the prize of a female. This is something I have never seen myself, and Paul was very fortunate to be able to witness some rarely seen behaviour, this photo really made me already start looking forward to my next trip to Greece in spring 2011. To see some photos of some Ottoman vipers found my me and my colleagues this year click here

Male Ottoman vipers (Montivipera xanthina) in combat on the Greek island of Lesvos, (C) Paul Manning

By Matt Wilson

Costa Rica photo albums with species list

I have uploaded my photos from my trip to Costa Rica onto my Google Picassa photo albums gallery, you can view the albums (in two parts) at the following links: part 1 and part 2

Hope you like them, and I will surely be back to the tropics in the future!

The following short video captures the moment of my first rainforest ‘capture’ in Costa Rica, courtesy of Frog blog Manchester

Me photographing a Fer-de-lance or Terciopelo (Bothrops asper) (C) Andrew Gray

Species observed in Costa Rica (23nd Nov-6th Dec), with some notes:

Amphibians:

  • Cane toad (Bufo marinus)- Commonly found on the Caribbean coast
  • Hourglass tree frog (Hyla ebraccata)- Common at mid elevations
  • Drab tree frog (Smilisca sordida)- Common everywhere
  • Reticulated glass frog (Hylolinobatrachium valerioi)- Only 4 specimens seen
  • Fleischmann’s glass frog (Hylolinobatrachium fleischmanni)- Quite common
  • Unidentified species of glass frog (Hylolinobatrachium ssp)- At only one site
  • Smoky jungle frog (Leptodactylus pentadactylus)- Only 2 large adults seen
  • Lowland tree frog (Scinax elaeochroa)- Very common on Caribbean coast
  • Variable rain frog (Craugastor crassidigitus)- Common
  • Common tink frog (Eleutherodactylus diastema)- Heard calling literally everywhere!
  • Brilliant forest frog (Lithobates warszewitschii)- 5 seen
  • Red-eyed leaf frog (Agalychnis callidryas)- Found at 3 sites
  • Spurrell’s leaf frog (Agalychnis spurrelli) Only one adult found
  • Splendid leaf frog (Cruziohyla calcarifer) 3 specimens at one site
  • Lemur leaf frog (Hylomantis lemur) 15-20 seen
  • Strawberry poison dart frog (Oophaga pumilio) Common at several sites
  • Green & black poison dart frog (Dendrobates auratus) Common at several site

Reptiles:

  • Deppe’s whip tail lizard (Cnemidophorus deppii) Commonly seen
  • Four-lined whip tail lizard (Ameiva quadrilineata) Commonly seen
  • Slender anole (Norops limifrons) Common
  • Pug-nosed anole (Norops capito) Common
  • Green tree anole (Norops biporeatus) Only 4-5 individuals
  • Rose-bellied spiny lizard (Sceloparus variabilis) Not common
  • Lemur anole (Norops lemurirus) Uncommon
  • Striped basilisk (Basiliscus vittatus) Common
  • Green basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons) Common
  • Litter skink (Sphenomorphus cherrei) Only 1
  • Spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura similis) Common on Pacific coast
  • Yellow-headed gecko (Gonatodes albingularis) Only a few specimens
  • House gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) Very common
  • Spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus)  3 specimens seen at night
  • American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) Common at one Pacific site
  • Lichen coloured slug eating snake (Sibon longifrenis) DOR
  • Ebony keelback (Chironius grandisquamis) One adult 0f over 200cm not caught/or photographed
  • Cat-eyed snake (Leptodeira septentrionalis) 1 live 1 DOR, both found at night
  • Yellow blunt-headed vine snake (Imantodes inomatus) 1 specimen found at night
  • Coral snake (Micrurus alleni) 1 adult in leaf litter beside stream at night
  • Golden eyelash viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) 2 ”golden” specimens found on Caribbean coast
  • Fer-de-lance/Terciopelo (Bothrops asper) 2 specimens seen, one found sitting in the road at night after a rain shower
By Matt Wilson

Last day in the tropics..

I’ve come to the end of my 2 week trip to Costa Rica and I have been to some unique places and seen some fantastic animals, including over 40 species of amphibians and reptiles. There are many highlights I would like to share through my photography from this trip, but since this is a European herp blog, I will probably just add extensive photo galleries instead of a full length report. Today I rounded off the trip nicely by being able to photograph a beautiful female Bushmaster, one of the rarest, most venomous and beautiful snakes in Central America. It is also the largest viper, and the second largest venomous snake in the world. There was no chance I would be able to see one of these fantastic reptiles in the wild myself, so I am grateful for local help and being allowed to meet a Bushmaster found by somebody else. However, as mentioned, we found over 40 species searching by ourselves and with the help of Brian Kubicki from the Costa Rican amphibian research center. After travelling through Costa Rica to places such as the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and the central mountain rainforests we were able to find many species, such as Poison dart frogs, Leaf frogs, Glass frogs, Bullfrogs, Tree frogs, Rain frogs, Crocodiles, Basilisks,  Geckos, Anoles, Skinks, Coral snakes, Eyelash vipers, Fer-de-lance, Colubrid snakes and many more.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Andrew and also Brian for showing me how to herp in the tropics, which can be quite different than herping in Europe 🙂

Here are a very small selection of photos of a few of the animals from the trip:

Splendid leaf frog (Cruziohyla calcarifer) (C) Matt Wilson

American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) (C) Matt Wilson

Spurrell's leaf frog (Agalychnis spurrelli) (C) Matt Wilson

Green & black poison dart frog (Dendrobates auratus) (C) Matt Wilson

Yellow blunt-headed vine snake (Imantodes inornatus) (C) Matt Wilson

Eyelash pit viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) (C) Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson