Piemonte and Sud-Tirol

Piemonte and Sud-Tirol

Postby Pablo Deschepper » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:11 pm

Last week I returned from a 1 week herping trip with 2 friends to northern Italy. The first couple of days were spend in Piemonte where we tried to find Vipera walser, but to no avail. We had all kinds of weather, from very foggy and cold, to cloudy with sun and one day, rain was just pouring from the sky. Luckily we could always count on Coronella to save us from snake-less days. Even when rain was gushing down, we could find some crawling around when rain paused. In walserland was also where I found my first black natrix. As for vipers, we found 2 asps, one small one and a decent sized reddish female.

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As I have told, we did not succeed in finding walser, better luck next time I guess... During our time in Piemonte we met a guy doing his master's thesis on the behavioral ecology of Vipera walser. The guy did not see a walser all summer... I would be deep into alcoholism if that was me. Defenitely after reading some more successfull herp reports where walser was encountered even more than once in one day! (Jeroen, Gerrit-Jan, Bobby)

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Next targets were Vipera berus, Vipera ammodytes and a stunning subspecies of salamandra atra, aurorae, which has only a very limited distribution. Upon arriving in our b&b in Sud-Tirol, what struck us were the flanks of mountains with more horizontal than vertical trees. Apparantly, this part of Italy was struck by a severe storm on the 20th of september 2000 and again in autumn 2018 (https://www.dailysabah.com/europe/2018/ ... t-least-20).

The first day was full of rain and temperatures in the valley only reached 12 degrees celsius. Perfect for aurorae? Since we did not have too much experience with atra, we did not quite know what to expect but decided to drive up to the aurorae spot. Temperature dropped to 3 degrees celcius and rain was still falling down like cats and dogs when we arrived. With some warm clothes on, we left the car and started our hike. The first part of the path was full of obstacles, climbing over and limbo-ing under fallen trees did not raise our hopes in finding aurorae... It was only after crossing a small stream and when trees were above 90% vertical again that we found our first salamander. What a stunning subspecies! We found two more and it even stopped raining when we found the last one, allowing for more decent pictures.

fallen trees
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The next day, we wanted to try our luck on finding a black italian clade berus. We selected a spot around 1900m above see level that looked promising and went for it. We found 2 berus..or beri? One of them was pitch black with some white markings on the upper lip! Bingo!

some scenery

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The last target before leaving was Vipera ammodytes. They are found on and next to steep rock slides, I have herped in easier places. The first species encountered on a smaller rock slide however was an asp, Vipera aspis ssp fransisciredi...Nice! First time seeing this subspecies for me...On another rockslide which was tricky to access we found an ammo quite quickly once we found a good entry to the rock slide. A beautiful silver/black individual. Although we did not find walser, we could leave Italy satisfied with the glowing aura of aurorae surrounding is and blessed with some stunning vipers.

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species list:
Coronella austriaca
Vipera aspis aspis
Vipera aspis fransisciredi
Vipera berus "Italian clade"
Vipera ammodytes ammodytes (former ruffoi)
Hierophis viridiflavus
Natrix natrix
Zamenis longissimus DOR
Podarcis muralis
Zootoca (vivipara) carniolica
Anguis veronensis
Salamandra atra aurorae
Rana temporaria


Cheers,
Pablo
Pablo Deschepper
 
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:23 pm
Hometown: Erps
country: Belgium

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