A return to the Cyclades archipelago

White beach on Milos (C) Matt Wilson

Next week I will be returning to the beautiful Cyclades islands in Greece for a summer holiday. I was last on these islands in 2011 when I visited Milos and Kimolos with my Swiss friend Thomas Reich, primarily to search for the Milos viper (Macrovipera schweizeri). This time around I am visiting volcanic Santorini (Thira) and the neighbouring island of Ios. This will not be a herping trip but more of a holiday to relax and enjoy the night life for a change together with my friend Adam. Although the trip is a holiday I should be able to post at the very least some nice photos of the very common Erhard’s wall lizard (Podarcis erhardii ssp myconensis) which occurs on both islands. It will be far too hot to observe most other species by wandering around the resorts, but if I have time I will make a small effort to find the nocturnal Cretan cat snake (Telescopus fallax ssp pallidus) which occurs on Santorini but so far not recorded from Ios.

The endemic Milos wall lizard (Podarcis milensis) from the Cyclades (C) Matt Wilson

Although dry and barren, the Cyclades are among my favourite islands perhaps owing to their relative isolation in the Aegean sea they capture the true island feel because you have to take a boat to reach them (except Santorini). At this time of year the islands are particularly popular with backpackers and younger crowds looking for decent nightlife, especially on Ios 🙂 . Despite the harsh summer temperatures I hope to spend some time visiting the remote beaches and chapels which are found throughout these islands which really form part of their identity. One of the highlights of my trip to Milos last year was reaching the peak of the island to find a tiny chapel which was open and stocked with bottles of water and guest book for sign to thirsty hikers.

To see my field report from Milos and Kimolos in the Cyclades from last year, click here.

Beautiful beach on the west coast of Milos, Cyclades (C) Matt Wilson

The town of Plaka in the west of Milos, Cyclades (C) Matt Wilson

White building on Milos (C) Matt Wilson

The endangered Milos viper (Macrovipera schweizeri) found crossing a dirt road at night on Milos (C) Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson

Flooded dunes

On Saturday I went over to the Merseyside coast with Carl Corbidge for our first visit to this area in 2012, as it looked like it might not actually rain this time. Oddly enough it turned out to be ‘too’ sunny for successfully locating Sand lizards (Lacerta agilis), but we did manage to spot one female along with two Viviparous lizards (Zootoca vivipara). Apparently this year has been a very poor one for the rare sand lizard, because of vast amounts of rain, but on the other hand it has been a great year for Natterjack toads (Bufo calamita). The dune ponds were all completely full, and filled with tadpoles which is a big contrast this time last year when not a single tadpole had time to develop. After a short while we found two Natterjacks along with a few Common frogs (Rana temporaria). Leaving this area in the afternoon we tried to find some adders at my local site but we had left it too late, too hot and nothing was found except some Common toads (Bufo bufo).

Female sand lizard (Lacerta agilis)

Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita)

Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita)

Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita)

Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita)

Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita)

Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita) second specimen

Breeding pond

Breeding pond

By Matt Wilson