Barcelona - spring is here

Portugal, Spain, Andorra

Barcelona - spring is here

Postby Ilian Velikov » Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:30 pm

With the bad weather and slow start of the season this year the forum is becoming less and less European, so I decided to share some of my finds from around Barcelona to bring back the .eu in fieldherping.eu.

We arrived in Barcelona in October last year and while we were staying in our temporary accommodation obviously I decided to check the local parks. Tarentola were easy to find during the day under stones and ruble from demolished buildings. I found an empty egg and a few newborns along with the adults.

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Then we moved to our permanent accommodation on the other side of the Collserola mountain and then the long wait for the winter to end began. I didn't really know what I would find in the area but being a place that I've never visited almost all species would have been new and exciting for me. This winter turned out to be unusually cold for this part of Europe, and we even got a centimeter or two of snow for a couple of days. It was raining a lot and even though there were warm days the nights were still very cold, so I couldn't find any amphibians. The only species active more or less on sunny days throughout the winter was Podarcis liolepis.

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But then the almonds and other trees started to blossom along with other flowers including some early orchids, the temperatures got above 20 C which apparently is what the Mediterranean species need in order to get active, and a couple of days ago things started to stir. Large psammodromus were now out basking still covered in mud from their hibernaculas and I saw a nice young male of Malpolon exploring the surroundings of a footpath bordered by some trees and shrubs. We went back to the same spot the next day and I caught a large male. It took me about fifteen minutes to get him out of a tangle of thorny bushes after which my arms looked like I've been fighting a gang of angry street cats but it was all worth it. After I, my wife and my three year old daughter admired him for a while I let him go in the same bushes that I caught him. After about an hour I just passed by the spot curious to see if there would be more snakes and he was there again basking on the same spot – brave experienced guy that obviously wouldn't give up his territory because of some annoying humans.

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Himantoglossum robertianum

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Xylocopa violacea, note the orchid pollinia and the pollen-eating mites hitching a ride

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in situ

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in situ

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Finally I'm sharing this photo of an individual which has to be 100% P. liolepis but I couldn't help but notice the features matching P. hispanicus which is found hundreds of miles to the south from here – very small size, dorsal line that forks in two just after the neck, no green on back, no blue scales on the flanks...He looks a bit drab and dirty because he hasn't shed yet but I'm sure I can see these features and yet he has to be liolepis...
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Re: Barcelona - spring is slowly coming

Postby Daniel Kane » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:49 pm

Nice start to your season! I particularly like your in-situ Malpolon pictures.

If you're identifying your final lizard on range, despite the phenotype, do you think there's a chance that it might have been transported there from further south (so be a 'true' P. hispanicus).
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Re: Barcelona - spring is slowly coming

Postby Ilian Velikov » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:18 am

Thanks Daniel! Yes the in-situ Malpolon is my favorite too. There's always great satisfaction in taking an in-situ photo of a snake.

Regarding the lizard - I really don't know. It does also look like young liolepis (minus the double vertebral line) and it was found among other liolepis (not far from that red-bellied male) but Barcelona has to be Europe's capital of transported animals. There are established populations of around five species of South American parrots, and people have been catching monitor lizards and caiman in the area, to name a few, so who knows...
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Re: Barcelona - spring is slowly coming

Postby Michal Szkudlarek » Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:41 am

Ilian Velikov wrote:Thanks Daniel! Yes the in-situ Malpolon is my favorite too. There's always great satisfaction in taking an in-situ photo of a snake.

Regarding the lizard - I really don't know. It does also look like young liolepis (minus the double vertebral line) and it was found among other liolepis (not far from that red-bellied male) but Barcelona has to be Europe's capital of transported animals. There are established populations of around five species of South American parrots, and people have been catching monitor lizards and caiman in the area, to name a few, so who knows...

Wow, interesting. I thought Benelux was Europe's capital of introduced species.
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Re: Barcelona - spring is slowly coming

Postby Ilian Velikov » Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:42 pm

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:Wow, interesting. I thought Benelux was Europe's capital of introduced species.


Ha, yes it might be. Not sure who holds the first place but Barcelona must be in the first three.
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Re: Barcelona - spring is slowly coming

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:24 pm

Ilian Velikov wrote:
Michal Szkudlarek wrote:Wow, interesting. I thought Benelux was Europe's capital of introduced species.


Ha, yes it might be. Not sure who holds the first place but Barcelona must be in the first three.


We don't have the climate to be a hotspot. The only thing is people pay better attention to them here :P .
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Re: Barcelona - spring is slowly coming

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:25 pm

Just count the number of native species on Mallorca or Sardinia.
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Re: Barcelona - spring is slowly coming

Postby Ilian Velikov » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:16 am

Jeroen Speybroeck wrote:We don't have the climate to be a hotspot. The only thing is people pay better attention to them here .


That's most likely true. It's also true that those introduced species, in Barcelona for example, have a rather restricted habitat which they could occupy, i.e. islands of nature(parks, roadside banks, fields) in a sea of human development (towns, roads, etc.). Usually these islands are frequented by people in great numbers (runners, bikers, families, herpers), so chances are that any surviving introduced species unable to move away from these isolated islands is going to be spotted sooner or later by someone. Try dumping a corn snake for example in the mountains or river valleys of the Balkans where often there are many miles of nothing but nature dotted with no more than tiny villages and dirt roads and shepherds, and maybe some bigger town or a highway but these are far enough between. What are the chances of anybody encountering it? And I can assure you at least in Bulgaria there are enough so-called "terrarists" and other "collectors" to create a demand for importing(legally and illegally) exotic species. So who knows what species might be there in the wild by now.
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Re: Barcelona - spring is slowly coming

Postby Ilian Velikov » Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:49 pm

First amphibian for me here.

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Re: Barcelona - spring is slowly coming

Postby Ray Hamilton » Fri Mar 30, 2018 2:54 pm

Hi Ilian,

Enjoyed your post so far. Interesting to see how things are unfolding up in Barcelona. My wife and I have spent the last four months in Malaga Province and been out searching for signs of reptile and amphibian movement. The weather here has been very wet and cold. Locals can't believe the amount of rain that has fallen in March. Apparently it has been the wettest March in 106 years. At least all the reservoirs are topping up again. Still no real sign of it changing yet.

Keep us updated on your finds, Ray Hamilton.
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