Slovenia, July 2017

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Slovenia, July 2017

Postby Kristian Munkholm » Sun Jul 16, 2017 7:58 pm

This year's family vacation went to Slovenia, a week based in a village in the Julian Alps and stops on the way to and from in Thuringia, Bavaria and Salzburg. We had a wonderful trip, hiking in the stunning scenery of Triglav National Park and swimming in crystal clear lakes.

On some of our recent trips my herping endeavours had perhaps taken a bit much focus relative to the interests of the rest of the family so it was a conscious decision to tone it down this time around. Accordingly, with one notable exception, herp encounters were merely accidental, few and far between and largely unphotographed. Even so, there were a couple of nice finds, justifying a short report.

The first find was a slow worm in the woods outside Bad Lobenstein, a small town in Thuringia where we spent the first night at a night cozy old hotel. I had gone for a short evening walk after saying good night to Henriette and the kids, forgetting to bring not just my camera but also my cell phone. I didn't much mind missing pics of the Anguis but I would have liked to get some of the fighting male roe deer I also happened upon.

Pauline found a second slow worm one morning in the Vrata valley but I was some way ahead on the path at the time, only heard about it afterwards.

Lacertids seemed shockingly scarce as we encountered only two specimens in 12 days, both in Triglav National Park. The first one, found by Gustav at 1100 m below the north face of theTriglav, looked familiar, yet perhaps a little different, a viviparous lizard that, depending on unresolved issues regarding taxonomic status could be a new species for me, Zootoca (vivipara) carniolica.

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I saw the second lacertid on a steep rock face at 1150 m at the end of a two day trek. At the time I was uncertain of the species but since we were all tired and just wanted to get back down to the house I only took a couple of quick snaps. After returning home I was happy to receive confirmation that it was indeed a Horvath's rock lizard, a(nother) new species for me.

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On this hike we also found three adders in an alpine valley at 1700 m. Looking very much like bosniensis, these should nonetheless belong to the Italian clade of the nominate subspecies. Unfortunately, the silver and black freshly shed male evaded my lens but the two females were quite nice as well. The second was spotted by Gustav, just as he was about to step out onto the rock in the middle of a lake upon which it lay basking.

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The only other snakes found were at Lake Bled where we ended up going swiiming three times because Pauline and Gustav fell so in love with the place. We found a large, dead grass snake in the parking lot and Pauline saw a second, smaller snake swimming in the lake itself, by her description most likely a dice snake.

On the aforementioned hike as well as elsewhere in the area we also saw a few common toads, including somewhat interestingly an amplexed couple in a small puddle – in July!

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Besides these toads, the anuran list was completed by just a few common frogs found here and there.

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This brings us, finally, to the caudates. One morning, when the rest of the family were feeling a bit worn out and wanted some quiet time in the apartment I explored some of the surrounding landscapes. In a deep gorge, I spotted some fire salamander larvae in a puddle next to the main stream. I searched the surroundings for adults, didn't manage to find any.

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Thankfully, I had more luck with their alpine congeners. Though I didn't have any spots and hadn't set any time aside for searching I had very much hoped to find alpine salamanders somwhere in the mountains. On a short family hike, right next to where Gustav found the Zootoca I casually flipped a few rocks and was rewarded with two of these beauties – wonderful.

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Headed home, we made a stop at Obersalzberg for a history lesson, not for herping. It was a rather cold, gray morning and the thought that this might be perfect salamander weather did cross my mind but still I wasn't really looking. I was all the more delighted when Gustav suddenly called me over when he saw something moving through the shrubs among the rocks at 1840 m.

View from Kehsteinhaus
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...& that's pretty much it for the herps, except... wait, there was that one dedicated herping outing...

One day, as we headed into Ljubljana, I left the others behind for a few hours while I drove out into the countryside. It was a nice trip :-)

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Of course, apart from the herps, there were the inverts, mammals (missed photos of the red deer as well...), landscapes, flowers, etc.

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As for the flowers, as some of you may know I have a fondness for orchids. There were lots of them, of many different species, all quite common, and then there was this one which had me puzzled for a while. Any other orchid lovers (Mario?) around here ever seen anything like it?

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Species list:

Salamandra atra 3
Salamandra salamandra 4 larvae
Proteus anguinus ~25 – mostly juveniles

Bufo bufo 7 (+ 2 dead)
Rana temporaria 5

Anguis fragilis 2
Iberolacerta horvathi 1
Zootoca (vivipara) carniolica 1

Vipera berus 3
Natrix natrix 1 dead

Opihidia sp. (probably Natrix tessellata) 1
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Re: Slovenia, July 2017

Postby Michal Szkudlarek » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:11 pm

I did not even know that Salamandra atra is present in Slovenia :oops:
How big was that stone over alpine salamander? 40cm in diameter? As to second finding of this species it was observed foraging at day, right? Did you find a wild cave with olms? Did you have any specialistic equipment to get into the cave?
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Re: Slovenia, July 2017

Postby Frédéric Seyffarth » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:46 pm

Nice finds, nice landscapes!
Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Slovenia, July 2017

Postby Guillaume Gomard » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:16 am

The picture of the adder basking on its isolated rock is a very interesting observation, it´s the first time I see this. I would be curious to know if other members already made a similar observation ?
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Re: Slovenia, July 2017

Postby Kristian Munkholm » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:42 pm

Thanks, Frédéric :D

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:How big was that stone over alpine salamander? 40cm in diameter?


The smaller salamander was found under the larger rock, perhaps some 35-40 cm across.

The larger salamander was found under the smaller rock, perhaps some 25 cm across.

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:As to second finding of this species it was observed foraging at day, right?


Yes.

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:Did you find a wild cave with olms?


Yes.

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:Did you have any specialistic equipment to get into the cave?


No.

Guillaume Gomard wrote:The picture of the adder basking on its isolated rock is a very interesting observation, it´s the first time I see this.


The lake (perhaps I should say pond) was immediately next to a popular hiking path and the rock no more than a couple of meters from the shore.
It was quite near the cabin and we had just started out on our hike when I realized we had left the sandwiches in the room and went back to get them. When I came back after a few minutes my wife and kids showed me the adder. At the time it was just basking on the rock. They told me that when they found it most of its body had been submerged along the side of the rock, maybe even partially under it, and it had slowly made its way up.

I imagine the adder might have fled out into the water from the shore when other hikers walked by before us, emerging onto the rock to dry when the danger had passed. It was remarkably exposed.
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Re: Slovenia, July 2017

Postby Michal Szkudlarek » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:05 pm

Kristian Munkholm wrote:Thanks, Frédéric :D

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:How big was that stone over alpine salamander? 40cm in diameter?


The smaller salamander was found under the larger rock, perhaps some 35-40 cm across.

The larger salamander was found under the smaller rock, perhaps some 25 cm across.

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:As to second finding of this species it was observed foraging at day, right?


Yes.

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:Did you find a wild cave with olms?


Yes.

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:Did you have any specialistic equipment to get into the cave?


No.

Guillaume Gomard wrote:The picture of the adder basking on its isolated rock is a very interesting observation, it´s the first time I see this.


The lake (perhaps I should say pond) was immediately next to a popular hiking path and the rock no more than a couple of meters from the shore.
It was quite near the cabin and we had just started out on our hike when I realized we had left the sandwiches in the room and went back to get them. When I came back after a few minutes my wife and kids showed me the adder. At the time it was just basking on the rock. They told me that when they found it most of its body had been submerged along the side of the rock, maybe even partially under it, and it had slowly made its way up.

I imagine the adder might have fled out into the water from the shore when other hikers walked by before us, emerging onto the rock to dry when the danger had passed. It was remarkably exposed.

wow
had you known that that cave hosts olms before you entered it?
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Re: Slovenia, July 2017

Postby Guillaume Gomard » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:11 pm

Your explanation seems much more probable than a spontaneous basking in such an exposed place. Interesting observation anyway, thanks for sharing.
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Re: Slovenia, July 2017

Postby Kristian Munkholm » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:41 pm

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:had you known that that cave hosts olms before you entered it?


Yes
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Re: Slovenia, July 2017

Postby Berislav Horvatic » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:19 pm

Kristian Munkholm wrote:As for the flowers, as some of you may know I have a fondness for orchids. There were lots of them, of many different species, all quite common, and then there was this one which had me puzzled for a while. Any other orchid lovers (Mario?) around here ever seen anything like it?

My orchid expert says Dactylorhiza fuchsii, with nonstandard coloration. Did not comment on the possible rarity of the
form. She also sent me a photo of a totally white specimen of this species.
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Re: Slovenia, July 2017

Postby Kristian Munkholm » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:41 pm

Berislav Horvatic wrote:My orchid expert says Dactylorhiza fuchsii, with nonstandard coloration. Did not comment on the possible rarity of the form.


That's what I ended up with as well. I don't know anything about the possible rarity either but I've certainly never seen anything like it. I tried a quick image search, didn’t come up with any similar specimens.
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