Malaga

Portugal, Spain, Andorra

Malaga

Postby Kevin Byrnes » Mon Dec 31, 2018 3:20 pm

In the beginning of December I began to get itchy feet again and felt the need for another short trip away somewhere for some winter sunshine with hopefully a few new species ticked off.
Thursday 6th December
I flew from Bristol and landed in Malaga in the early evening and after collecting the hire car I began the journey into the hills behind Malaga. After a stop for supplies and an insane drive up a dirt track involving MUCH swearing at the satnav I finally arrived at my airbnb house. I had a quick cup of tea to calm down and headed out to check some local ponds where I hoped to see the start of the amphibian breeding season. Sadly, the only herps seen were a few juvenile Iberian water frogs Rana perezi, As returned to the house and put the key into the door I heard a strange noise at my feet, I looked down to see a very large Spiny toad Bufo spinosus scratching at the door as if it wanted to come in. This was probably the largest toad I have ever seen and after a few photos I put it onto the grass and then checked a drain cover where I found a small Turkish gecko Hemidactylus turcicus
Image1 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image2 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image3 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Friday 7th December
A brief stop in the garden to watch a Hoopoe and admire the view of the local hills and with today's temperature set to hit 20 degrees I headed off to El Torcal a huge limestone block rising from the plain. I stopped at a nearby abandoned farm where I flipped lots of building materials but found only a single Turkish gecko H turcicus

Image5 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image12 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image4 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

I checked a few rocky banks and walls enroute but found no sign of life and began to worry that 20 degrees may seem hot to me but to the local lizards it may seem like midwinter. At the top of El Torcal I moved away from all the tourists and began to walk among the karst limestone formations where I soon spotted some movement in the grass, it was a young Large psammodromus Psammodromus algirus. A couple of sandwiches and a cold beer later, I began my search again and soon spotted a lizard sneak into a crack in a wall. I sat down to wait for it to reappear but as I turned my head I saw one of the target species for the trip Vaucher's wall lizard Podarcis vaucheri.
Image6 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image7 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image8 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image9 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

With the morning's mission a success I headed south back to Malaga and to a location given to me by fellow herper Ray Hamilton where I hoped to find a few reptiles. How my satnav survived this journey is beyond me as it tried to take me through gardens and across crops etc. Eventually I arrived at the spot and pulled up next to a rocky grassy area, where I found Moorish geckos Tarentola mauritanica, a Natterjack toad Epidalea calamita and in a some nearby pools Iberian water frogs R perezi. I walked up to some nearby ruins and flipped a lot of cover but found nothing else.

Image10 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image11 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Saturday 8th December
Up early and a 3.5 hr drive east to a river source which is home to the Spanish algyroides Algyroides marchi, I had no idea if they would be active at this time of year but as I was in Southern Spain it would be stupid not to go and look for myself. I arrived late on a sunny morning and began to search all the rock faces, tree stumps etc etc, I flipped logs, stones, searched sunny glades and stream edges but no sign of any herps at all, in fact the only thing of interest was a fox and also a couple of hundred wasps which emerged from a log I turned over.

Image13 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr
I left here very disappointed and headed for the Sierra nevada and a canal channel system cut through the hills. I had seen videos of this on Youtube where reptiles etc had fallen into the channel and were unable to escape so escape "ladders" had been installed on walls to aid escape. This included some of my target species and so I was keen to visit , unfortunately I arrived in the dark and so after dropping into the dry channel with my headtorch I began to explore the passage. I quickly found a Horseshoe whip snake Hemorrhois hippocrepis which I released onto the bank above and carried on my walk, I walked 1.5 miles desperately hoping that my torch batteries would not fail but found only a few bats and a single Moorish gecko. When I returned to the snake location I found that it had returned to the passage but was now in a crack in the wall.

Image16 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image17 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image18 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image20 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image21 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image19 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr.

I left early the next morning and although disappointed with what little I had found, I enjoyed meeting a few familiar faces and having a bit of sun.
Kevin Byrnes
 
Posts: 172
Joined: Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:44 am
Hometown: Stroud
country: England

Re: Malaga

Postby Ray Hamilton » Tue Jan 01, 2019 6:10 pm

Hi Kev,

Pleased to hear you were able to enjoy some Spanish December sunshine. A difficult time to find reptiles.

El Torcal is a great site to visit for wildlife - including Griffon Vultures.

I walked 1.5 miles desperately hoping that my torch batteries would not fail
:lol:
Ray Hamilton
 
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Re: Malaga

Postby Michal Szkudlarek » Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:25 pm

Kevin, did you try to find any Caudata? They should have mating season now in Andalusia I think, if precipitation is ok.
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Michal Szkudlarek
 
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Re: Malaga

Postby Kevin Byrnes » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:45 am

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:Kevin, did you try to find any Caudata? They should have mating season now in Andalusia I think, if precipitation is ok.


Hi Michal, no I didn't particularly target any caudata, I did check a few ponds but the water was rather muddy and visibility reduced.
Kevin Byrnes
 
Posts: 172
Joined: Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:44 am
Hometown: Stroud
country: England


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