Pyrénées

In September 2007 I moved to the south of France for five months. Although I was there for the winter I still found abit of time to search for reptiles and amphibians in this species rich area close to the French Pyrénées. I enjoyed my time in this area of the Mediterranean so much that in July 2008 I returned to stay with Herpetologist friend Daniel Phillips at his village in the beautiful sun drenched, vineyard covered hillsides. Furthermore we left the Mediterranean lowlands for several days to ascend to higher altitudes where it was cooler to search for some other species in the Pyrénées.

All photographs (C) Matt Wilson

Table 1: My findings from my two stays in S-W France

Latin name Common name winter 07 07/08
Salamandra salamandra Fire salamander 2
Bufo bufo spinosus Mediterranean common toad 3 15
Bufo calamita Natterjack toad 3
Hyla meridionalis Mediterranean tree frog many
Rana ridibunda Marsh frog many many
Rana perezi Perez’s frog many many
Rana temporaria Common frog 20+
Discoglossus pictus Painted frog 3 20+
Alytes obstetricans Common midwife toad tadpoles 3
Psammodromus algirus Large psammodromus few few
Tarentola mauritanica Moorish gecko few 20+
Podarcis liolepis Catalan wall lizard many 2
Podarcis muralis Common wall lizard many
Zootoca vivipara Viviparous lizard few
Lacerta agilis Sand lizard 2
Lacerta bilineata Green lizard 5
Timon lepidus Ocellated lizard 7 20+
Anguis fragilis Slow worm 1 1
Natrix maura Viperine snake 4 20+
Natrix natrix Grass snake 2
Hierophis viridiflavus Western whip snake 2
Rhinechis scalaris Ladder snake 2 slough 2
Malpolon monspessulanus Montpellier snake 5 4
Coronella austriaca Smooth snake 1
Vipera aspis Asp viper 5
Gravid female Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) found in December 2007

Gravid female Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) found in December 2007

Female Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra)

Female Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra)

Male Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) from the same site as the female

Male Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) from the same site as the female

Huge Marsh frog (Rana ridibunda)

Huge Marsh frog (Rana ridibunda)

Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita)

Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita)

Grass snake (Natrix natrix) feeding on a Common toad (Bufo bufo)

Grass snake (Natrix natrix) feeding on a Common toad (Bufo bufo)

Juvenile Painted frog (Discoglossus pictus)

Juvenile Painted frog (Discoglossus pictus)

Grass snake (Natrix natrix)

Grass snake (Natrix natrix)

The river Agly as it passes through the hillsides west of Perpignan

The river Agly as it passes through the hillsides west of Perpignan

Vineyard habitats home to many snake, lizard and amphibian species

Vineyard habitats home to many snake, lizard and amphibian species

A hatchling Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) rescued from a hillside road

A hatchling Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) rescued from a hillside road

Adult Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)

Adult Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)

A Grass snake (Natrix natrix) feigning death

A Grass snake (Natrix natrix) feigning death

Juvenile Ocellated lizard (Timon lepidus)

Juvenile Ocellated lizard (Timon lepidus)

Artificial canal used to water vines, a great habitat for amphibians and water snakes

Artificial canal used to water vines, a great habitat for amphibians and water snakes

Common toad (Bufo bufo)

Common toad (Bufo bufo)

Mediterranean tree frog (Hyla meridionalis)

Mediterranean tree frog (Hyla meridionalis)

Painted frog (Discoglossus pictus)

Painted frog (Discoglossus pictus)

Mediterranean tree frog (Hyla meridionalis) resting during the daytime

Mediterranean tree frog (Hyla meridionalis) resting during the daytime

Common midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans)

Common midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans)

Little holes, home to midwife toads

Little holes, home to midwife toads

Viperine snake (Natrix maura)

Viperine snake (Natrix maura)

Vineyards

Vineyards

Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)

Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)

Young Slow worm (Anguis fragilis)

Young Slow worm (Anguis fragilis)

Very large female Common toad (Bufo bufo spinosus)

Very large female Common toad (Bufo bufo spinosus)

Mediterranean tree frog (Hyla meridionalis)

Mediterranean tree frog (Hyla meridionalis)

Female Common toad (Bufo bufo spinosus)

Female Common toad (Bufo bufo spinosus)

Habitat in the Mediterranean where the garrigue meets the vineyards

Habitat in the Mediterranean where the garrigue meets the vineyards

The first of two Ladder snakes (Rhinechis scalaris) found at night

The first of two Ladder snakes (Rhinechis scalaris) found at night

Second Ladder snake (Rhinechis scalaris)

Second Ladder snake (Rhinechis scalaris)

Ocellated lizard (Timon lepidus)

Ocellated lizard (Timon lepidus)

Pyrenees

During my summer trip myself and Daniel Phillips decided after several days in the Mediterranean part of south west France that it was too hot so went went higher up into the Pyrenees to search for reptiles and amphibians. The species found in this area are alot more temperate than those found lower down, and can tolerate much colder temperatures. Our main targets for these few days were the Pyrenean Asp viper (Vipera aspis zinnikeri) and the Pyrenean subspecies of Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis garzoni). Many thanks to Patrice Baud for his help during these few days.

Landscape in the French Pyrenees

Landscape in the French Pyrenees

Habitat of Common frog (Rana temporaria) in the Pyrenees

Habitat of Common frog (Rana temporaria) in the Pyrenees

Common frog (Rana temporaria)

Common frog (Rana temporaria)

Habitat for Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), Asp viper (Vipera aspis), Common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) and Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis)

Habitat for Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), Asp viper (Vipera aspis), Common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) and Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis)

Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca)

Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca)

Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca) found active around dusk

Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca) found active around dusk

Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis garzoni)

Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis garzoni)

Common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis)

Common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis)

Female Common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis)

Female Common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis)

Viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara)

Viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara)

A dead Western whip snake (Hierophis viridiflavus) found dead on a country road

A dead Western whip snake (Hierophis viridiflavus) found dead on a country road

Larvae of Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra)

Larvae of Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra)

The first Asp viper that we caught (Vipera aspis zinnikeri)

The first Asp viper that we caught (Vipera aspis zinnikeri)

Second Asp viper (Vipera aspis zinnikeri)

Second Asp viper (Vipera aspis zinnikeri)

Third Asp viper (Vipera aspis zinnikeri)

Third Asp viper (Vipera aspis zinnikeri)

Fourth Asp viper (Vipera aspis zinnikeri)

Fourth Asp viper (Vipera aspis zinnikeri)

Fifth and last Asp viper (Vipera aspis zinnikeri)

Fifth and last Asp viper (Vipera aspis zinnikeri)

 

4 comments on “Pyrénées

  1. I was just in the middle of a homechooling session with my son and came to try and identify a lizard I often found in my garden when I lived in St Laurent de Cerdans in the Pyrenees. I found it! Lacerta bilineata. I always called them ‘magic lizards’…’green lizard’ just doesn’t do it justice! Wonderful photos and information, thank you. It was lovely to feel ‘back home’ in the Pyrenees just for a few moments.

    Like

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