Croatia, BiH, Serbia, Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Greece including ALL islands


Postby Kevin Byrnes » Mon Feb 03, 2020 11:56 pm

Feeling bored at home and in need of some more adventure I sat at home looking at Google earth and wondering where I could visit, tick a few species and get out again quickly. A few places sprang to mind but after checking available flights I decided on Karpathos which I could visit and only needed to take a Friday and Monday off work. There were three species on the island that I needed to find, Karpathos salamander Lyciasalamandra helverseni, now that Kotschy's gecko had been split into 4 species I needed to find Oertzen's gecko Mediodactylus oertzeni. The Karpathos frog which had previously been a full species was now I believe a subspecies of Levant frog and now titled Pelophylax b ceregensis, I had previously seen the Levant frog in Gozo but thought I had better get a photo of it here before some taxonomist changes it back.
Friday 17th January
Left home at 3 am and began the long drive to Luton airport, wondering at which point the usual holiday disaster would strike. I flew from Luton to Athens and then another flight to Karpathos arriving at 8 pm. Well. that went without incident I thought to myself as I made my way towards the Thrifty car hire office only to see steel shutters covering it. I looked on in horror but then noticed a thrifty flag in the Hertz office next door, what a relief. I showed the assistant my booking form only to be told that there was no booking, "How can there be no booking" I demanded "I have the confirmation here, look, pick up on the 17th and drop off on the 20th". The assistant said "Yes sir, but that is December and this is January"!
I managed to sort out a car, switched my satnav on and headed North to Olympos, the satnav took me to a local harbour with the route following a ferry route out to sea. Picking a random town on the map I headed up the island and then switched to the original plan getting there at 10:30 pm. I made my way up through the maze of small streets, through a howling gale and eventually found my airbnb. I began to search through the town turning over many rocks, bits of wood and assorted rubbish but finding nothing.
Saturday 18th January
Had a good nights sleep for once and woke to a sunny morning and stunning views of the village perched on the cliff. I was rather disappointed at the lack of salamanders, I had expected them to be an easy find after reading previous trip reports. I looked at the valley below and saw a stream with lush
green banks so dropped down to there and began to flip stones. I quickly found a few Oertzen's geckos and at one point found one sitting next to a Snake eyed skink Ablepharus kitaibelii both of which escaped as I slowly reached for my camera.

Image1 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image3 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image5 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image8 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image12 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image13 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image14 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

With one of the targets ticked off I headed for a frog location that I had found online. After a long drive along a dirt track I arrived at a small stream and parked the car, I walked 50 metres up stream and heard a loud plop as I neared a small pool. Looking into the water I noticed a medium sized frog, well that was easier than I expected. A few photos were taken, a few nearby rocks turned and I left the scene.

Image17 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image18 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image19 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image20 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image21 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image22 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image23 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Next stop was the nearby town of Diafani where I bought some food and a couple of beers which worked their magic and put me in a nice afternoon nap.When I woke up I read Bobby's and Gert Jan Verspui's trip reports again and studied the photos which was rather frustrating as I could see my airbnb in the background. I went into town at night and began to search every pile of rubble and abandoned courtyard I could find but only ended up losing my glasses. I tried one last narrow street and there it was, the bag of builders gravel featured in Gert Jans photo, I flipped a stone and found a small Karpathos salamander, no idea where all the others were but that didn't matter anymore, all targets ticked.

Image28 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image25 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image26 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image27 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Sunday 19th January
Not sure what to do with the rest of my stay, I thought I may as well try a nearby town that everyone else seems to visit and try my luck there. I stopped by a nearby church to admire the view and also found a large scorpion beneath a stone.

Image31 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image32 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image33 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

As I came over the hill I saw the town below me with lots of small fields and stone walls, well, where do I begin. Luckily I noticed a large sign at the roadside showing a map of the area and symbols for the local wildlife including salamanders ! I matched one of these to the satnav and drove through town parking on the outskirts, I flipped a few roadside stones noting that some had been moved recently and not quite gone back into place. I moved up the track and saw a small pile of old cactus branches, I moved a couple of these and found 6 Karpathos salamanders, happy days !

Image34 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image35 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image36 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

They were tricky things to photograph and did not want to sit still.
Monday 20th January
Began my journey home and was surprised to see that despite my walking up and down the village steps many times I had failed to see a salamander carved into one of them.

Image37 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image38 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

I eventually arrived back in the UK, got on the bus at the airport and suddenly thought "Where are my house keys"... I had left them in the hire car which set off a weeks worth of disasters which would have made a fabulous tv show
Kevin Byrnes
Posts: 172
Joined: Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:44 am
Hometown: Stroud
country: England

Re: Karpathos

Postby Jose Luis Perez » Tue Feb 04, 2020 10:53 am

Hi Kevin.
First of all, congratulations for your findings and pictures.
I was going to visit Karpathos this month, to try and see the Lyciasalamadra helverseni. But sadly, I was unable to find good flight combinations...
Thanks for sharing
Kind regards
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Jose Luis Perez
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:53 am
Location: Madrid (Spain)
Hometown: Madrid
country: Spain

Re: Karpathos

Postby Bobby Bok » Tue Feb 04, 2020 4:39 pm

Very cool Kev! Glad you got your targets and can't wait to be back there myself soon :)
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Bobby Bok
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