Island hopping pt 1 Sardinia.

Island hopping pt 1 Sardinia.

Postby Kevin Byrnes » Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:59 pm

Following the very successful trip to Sardinia that I did with Paul Lambourne and Sean Cole in January, I still needed a couple of species from that island and so began to put together another visit. Looking at the atlas I decided that it would make more sense to also visit Sicily and Malta as I was in the area.I was going to concentrate on species I had not seen before and to have some downtime to relax a little, I also asked my friend Meredith if she would like to join me and see what this fieldherping was all about.
Thursday 18th April
I drove my van down to Bristol and arranged to meet Merri at around midnight, she turned up at 04:30 and after a couple of hours sleep we headed off to the airport. The flight was ok except for the mad dash from the bus back onto the plane to retrieve my missing passport. The first herp of the trip was an Italian wall lizard Podarcis siculus that I had to remove from the car hire office.

Image1 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

We left here and headed north to a rocky coastal site which I had visited before and where I hoped to find Bedriaga's rock lizard Archaeolacerta bedriagae. We walked among the rocks quickly finding Moorish geckos Tarentola mauritanica and Tyrrhenian wall lizards Podarcis tiliguerta and when we reached the summit I finally found a single rock lizard catching the last of the sunshine on a rock below me.

Image2 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image3 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Feeling rather pleased with myself, we left here and headed off to find our Airbnb, where we soon found Moorish and Turkish geckos on the exterior walls.

Image5 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image4 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Friday 19th April
A lazy start to the day as Merri was feeling unwell and yesterdays find had given us some freetime, a walk around the garden gave lots of Italian wall lizards on the walls. Our only target here now was the Sardinian brook newt which I planned to look for on Sunday as the intended location was part of an army firing range which I hoped would be a bit quieter on a Sunday. In the afternoon we visited the town of Santa Theresa to get fuel and have a walk about like tourists do, several Tyrrhenian wall lizards were seen and I flipped an Ocellated skink Chalcides ocellatus from beneath a stone.

Image6 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image7 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image8 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image9 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

In the evening I explored the area and soon found a pond with lots of Tyrrhenian tree frogs Hyla sarda and also a Viperine snake Natrix maura swimming around in the darkness.

Image10 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image11 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image12 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr
It was strange sitting there in the dark listening to the frogs calling,there was a call, just a few feet away but I could not find the owner but it sounded exactly like the Parsley frog I heard in Portugal, a creaking sound like a dead branch.
Saturday 20th April
We left the airbnb and began our drive south to our next house at Tortoli, stoppingfor a while at a piece of wasteland where me,Paul and Sean had stopped in January.Merri found some crates of ceramic tiles and so she was happy to be left while I explored the site. I soon found a Tyrrhenian tree frog, 2 Western whip snakes Hierophis viridiflavus,several Ocellated skinks and lots of Italian wall lizards. The rest of the day was just travelling and settling in .

Image13 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image14 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image15 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image16 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image17 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr
Sunday 21st April
Merri was still feeling rough in the morning and so I headed off alone to the Brook newt site,stopping briefly at a dried up river bed where I found Italian and Tyrrhenian wall lizards a Grass snake Natrix natrix which quickly escaped and 2 Painted frogs Discoglossus sardus. I carried on with the journey and pulled into a layby on the hill as I had noticed a small rocky stream coming down the hillside.I moved a stone in a small pool but found only a couple of leeches, I then moved another and was shocked to see a Sardinian brook newt ! This meant there was no need to visit the potentially dangerous firing range and so after a quick photo session I headed back.

Image18 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image19 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image20 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

I stopped on the way back to examine a building site where work seems to have stopped and has left behind deep pools of water. Part of the ground seemed to be covered in a weed suppressant fabric which held several Western whip snakes and the usual Italian wall lizards. Across the road I noticed an underground chamber where I rescued a Tyrrhenian tree frog and a Tyrrhenian painted frog.

Image22 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image23 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image24 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Friday 22nd April
We packed and began a leisurely drive to Cagliari stopping at a riverside to have a picnic and use up our supplies, plus it seemed a perfect spot for a quick bit of herping. Nothing of real interest found here just lots of ocellated skinks. We carried on to the airport and flew to Sicily arriving at our airbnb on Mt Etna at around midnight
Kevin Byrnes
 
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Re: Island hopping pt 1 Sardinia.

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:19 pm

Enjoyed all 3 chapters, thanks!

I am pretty sure the enigmatic frog calls are territorial calls of Hyla sarda. I remember also hearing something Pelodytes-like on Sardinia, which at least turned out to be just that.
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Re: Island hopping pt 1 Sardinia.

Postby Gerald Ochsenhofer » Sat Sep 21, 2019 8:03 pm

Thanks for posting! Sardinia is absolutely worth a visit, not only for herps, but also if you like to hike/climb and have interest in cultural places/museums, not to mention the nice beaches :-)
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