Island hopping pt 2 Sicily

Island hopping pt 2 Sicily

Postby Kevin Byrnes » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:02 pm

Tuesday 23rdApril
After a long trip from Sardinia, we had arrived very tired at our airbnb on Mt Etna at midnight, we went straight to sleep as we had an early start in the morning with a boat trip planned for the Aeloian islands to see the Aeolian wall lizard Podarcis raffonae. Our bedroom had wooden shutters so it was still dark when I awoke at 08:20, we should have left the house at 07:30 ! I assumed Merri had set her alarm and she thought I had. I left the house and stomped around the garden for a while flipping huge rocks to ease the tension, the single Italian wall lizard Podarcis siculus was no help. I went back inside and calmed down, contacted the owner of the boat that was to take us to the small island and then rebooked the hydrofoil for Thursday. I then lost internet connection and so had no confirmation of booking. Putting this aside, I decided to drive to a small lake on the north coast and then to Palermo. Despite setting the satnav for the quickest route ,it took us hours to get across the island with all the hairpin bends,Merri was not happy. At the lake we found lots of Pool frogs Pelophylax lessonae
Italian wall lizards,Green lizards Lacerta bilineata an Ocellated skink Chalcides ocellatus and a Hermann's tortoise Testudo hermanni.

Image1 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image2 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image3 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Leaving here we drove on to Palermo arriving late at night and drove up the hill above the town parking in some woodland. I stepped out of the car and then realised that I had come all this way and hadn't reminded myself where the pond was where I hoped to find the African green toad Bufotes boulongeri. I wandered along a track in the dark listening for calls and then heard a noise by my foot. I switched the torch on and there was an African green toad in front of me.I took some photos, moved on a few feet and then found another. It was getting late so we left here and headed for a nearby site for the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis. I had marked some locations via google earth but as our car crunched it 's way along farm tracks past houses a few lights came on and it seemed not so good now. We drove on, trying not to attract attention to ourselves but soon a set of car lights appeared on the track slowly following us. We carried on and stopped briefly at a low point where I discovered we were parked right next to a pond. I shone the torch into the water and there it was, an African clawed frog, just like that! It soon swam away and I saw several others but they were all very nervous. I managed to take one poor photo and as the dog next door was going mental we decided to head for home arriving at 03:30.

Image4 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image5 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image5a by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Wednesday 24th April
We met the cleaning lady today and got the internet connection sorted, found the ticket confirmation, forwarded it to Merri's phone and then drove to Catania to get them printed out, what a relief.After lunch we drove to a large ravine near Syracuse to search for the Sicilian wall lizard Podarcis waglerianus. We got very excited a few times at very green lizards but they all proved to be concolour Italian wall lizards. Turning stones and rubbish gave a few Western whip snakes Hierophis viridiflavus and an Ocellated skink.

Image10 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image11 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image12 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image13 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image14 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image15 by Kevin Byrnes, on
Flickr

Thursday 25th April
Oh yes, today is the day ! We got up early and drove to Milazzo to catch the hydrofoil to Salina. We arrived in Salina and rang the skipper who didn't seem to know we were arriving despite me previously emailing him, half an hour later the boat was sorted and we were on our way to Scoglio faraglione. The sea was like a lake, it was a beautiful sunny day and we soon stepped off the boat and onto the rocks. We started to climb the steep slope and Merri soon spotted the first lizard basking on a rock, this one was quite approachable and we took several photos, the others quickly ran between bushes and were difficult to approach. We had our photos and there was no reason to stay any longer so we returned to the boat and the skipper took us back around the other side of the island, a great day out.

Image16 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

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

Friday 26th April
Up early and packing to leave, it was a beautiful sunny morning and the garden was full of lizards, not sure where they had been hiding for the rest of our trip. We drove to the local beach to pass the time before our flight, stopping to examine a large pile of roofing sheets and my last chance for an Italian aesculapian snake Zamenis lineatus, no luck just Moorish geckos. We stayed at the beach for a while where Merri collected a large bag of plastic litter for disposal and then we flew to Malta for pt 3 of our trip
Kevin Byrnes
 
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Joined: Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:44 am
Hometown: Stroud
country: England

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