Jurgen and Pauls jolly Israel adventure, Part 1, The North.

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Jurgen and Pauls jolly Israel adventure, Part 1, The North.

Postby Paul Lambourne » Wed May 23, 2012 3:40 pm

After a last decent cup of tea, I left home at 05:15 to drive to the airport.. a pleasant ish.. easyjet flight later and I landed at Tel Aviv.. After almost three weeks of constant rain the sunshine that greeted me was most welcome. I finally cleared Customs.. a single male traveller, with a bag of snake hooks and camera equipment and no idea where he was staying.. imagine the officers joy.., and headed outside to meet Jurgen.

Outside the terminal Jurgen was smoking, after the prefunctary Islander insults etc we collected the hire car and headed to our destination, the North of Isreal..for those of you that have not had the joy of driving with jurgen, just think Grand theft auto.. he drives a car like he has stolen it :D

As we neared our base for the next three days, an area in the North, with both steppe like and Mediterranean habitat, we encountered our first DOR snake, a stunning Malpolon. A very different looking snake to Malpolon I have encountered else where in Europe, very reddish in colour ..

We arrived at our base and relaxed (Jurgen smoked, I moaned about lack of tea) for five minutes and then hit the minor roads to look for herps and meet up with Israels top boys, Guy and Aviad. It was just getting dark and temps were good, so we where hopeful of an eventful night.

We met Guy and his charming wife Leum ( both Guy and Aviad have charming partners, that herp with them and dont seem to mind their obsessive interest in such things..it must be like winning the lottery, or maybe English girls are different..true I am lucky enough to have an attractive partner, but if I suggested we went herping together she would look at me as if I had suggested we sell our kidneys for crack)
Guy had kindly brought us a welcoming gift in the form of a sub adult Daboia he had removed from somebodies house early.. OK flowers or chocolates is the norm, but Jurgen and myself could not have been happier.
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We started scanning the roads for herps as the golden hour.20:00 to 21:30 was upon us..Guy soon spotted a second daboia.. Jurgen was so excited he nearly stopped smoking.. nearly..
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stunning patterning
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Soon after Guy spotted an Atractaspis engaddensis..one of our top ticks for the trip.. a stunning snake, with a very curious stike/bite action..
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as we were laying around taking excited pics of the mole viper.. these cute little things were running about us, and trying to crawl up our trousers.. bless..

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shortly afterwards we found this little fella, Myriopholis macrorhyncha.
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Sadly we later found a dying Daboia, which I had to dispatch.. unfortunately DORs were all too common. To cheer us up Guy found a fabulous little Telesocpus fallax syriacus,

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We met up briefly with Aviad, who in typical Israeli style also brought us a snake, in the form of Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus..
Saying goodbye to our guides Jurgen and I headed back to our base, grey foxes and Jackals were seen on the return trip, along with many small mammals.. as we approached our accommodation, the last herp of the night presented itself, on a road side outcrop, and stunning Ptyodactylus guttatus was out hunting..
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We sat, Jurgen smoking, me moaning about not having a cup of tea for 19+ hours and listened to Jackals howling in the distance, before finally turning in for a few hours sleep.

Up after a pants sleep, we headed to the far North, for my biggest want of the trip, Montivipera bournmuelleri. On route we stopped at a road side ditch that actually had water in it! The ditch was like a tadpole soup, with Pelophylax bedriagae taken full advantage of the conditions..
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small ditch about 2.5mx 2.5m


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Jurgen disgusted at my joy of finding dragonflies stomped off to smoke and curse Islanders, and found a number of juvenile Natrix tessellata
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We carried on further north, our objective however was in an area of Military occupation, and on this occasion the habitat was not accessible.. It is what it is.. disappointing but at least the vipers have the best protection of any herp :D
We searched suitable habitat outside the military zone and found Lacerta media israelica, Ptyodactylus puiseuxi, Phoeniocolacerta laevis,ophisops elegans,Erienis levantinus,erienis rothi ,Trachylephis vittata, and Laudakia stellio. As well as many arachnids and insects..
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habitat

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Erienis levantinus

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Phoenicolacerta laevis

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Eirenis rothi

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The biggest grasshopper I have ever seen, the size of a mouse.. even Jurgen stopped smoking momentarily..

We headed back towards our base, Jurgen waxing on about how daboia is the sexiest snake in the world and smoking and me wondering if Jurgen is a robot, as he doesnt seem to sleep, eat, drink or poo... I think he is a nicotine based life form..We stoped at a man made irrigation lake and Jurgen spotted some Hyla
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And to his immense joy a Testudo.. Jurgen rarely shows emotion but I swear I saw the traces of a smile between Marlboroughs..
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We head back to our base to eat pot noodle, smoke, moan about the fact that I have not had tea now for approaching 48 hours and to do some more road cruising.. We waited for the golden hour and began our search..we found a very rapid Daboia.. and a not so rapid Eryx jaculus..
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We stopped at about 23:30 hrs and decided to have an early night.. jackals and other mammals were seen on the drive home..
Next we headed to the home of the painted frog... on route we saw this sweet innocent bird being attacked by an unruly mammal.
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here we found stunning dragonflies..much to Jurgens disgust...
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Ashena isoceles

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Orthetrum trinacria
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Trithemis annulata

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Crocothemis erythraea

Few herps were at the Painted frog site, but large mammals and fish were in abundance..although we did see the usual frog, green toad and terrapin..
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Stopping of on the way back we found Typhlops vermicularis and Hemidactylus turcicus. Soon we were into our last night of Northern road cruising.. Jurgen was double smoking as it was his last chance for daboia..we saw many DOR snakes, daboia,jugularis etc.. and were very lucky to find an adult Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus and another Eryx jaculus.
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After a few hours of search, smoking and tea withdrawal we headed back to the accom only to find the entrance blocked by this mighty beast, Jurgen was clearly too afraid to leave the car, so I took it upon myself to move the creature on..
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After our ordeal a quick pot noodle and bed was on the cards..

We were travelling South in the morning.. new habitat, new herps..

TO BE CONTINUED.....

pAUL
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Re: Jurgen and Pauls jolly Israel adventure, Part 1, The North.

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Wed May 23, 2012 4:00 pm

An impressive first part !!!!
Great species, pictures and fun!

http://www.biblelandshop.net/israelitea ... rtdefault0
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Re: Jurgen and Pauls jolly Israel adventure, Part 1, The North.

Postby Gabriel Martínez » Wed May 23, 2012 4:02 pm

I´m sorry for your experience in bonrmuelleris heaven. Last year we had the same trouble... like you, I think that is cool that these vipers will be more pretected impossible :)

ABout your species, this Telescopus fallax is awesome!! The bird with the mouse is impressive... and its like if you couldn´t see Trionyx. I hope to see part 2 soon
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Re: Jurgen and Pauls jolly Israel adventure, Part 1, The North.

Postby Bobby Bok » Wed May 23, 2012 4:05 pm

Wow, only a first part. This would be one of the best trips ever. Stunning Daboia, Telescopus, Rhynchocalamus, .... and pretty much everything else ;)
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Re: Jurgen and Pauls jolly Israel adventure, Part 1, The North.

Postby Jürgen Gebhart » Wed May 23, 2012 4:18 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol:
One of the best Trip report`s I ever read, how funny, but a little overstaded!
I`m very excited about the second part!
:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Jurgen and Pauls jolly Israel adventure, Part 1, The North.

Postby Kenny De Boeck » Wed May 23, 2012 4:29 pm

This makes me want to go to Israel...I like it!
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Re: Jurgen and Pauls jolly Israel adventure, Part 1, The North.

Postby Jürgen Gebhart » Wed May 23, 2012 5:04 pm

A few of my shots of the north:

I love Daboia palaestinae and Daboia palaestinae loves me and that`s the reason for me to go back to Israel again and again and again.

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Typhlops vermicularis, the biggest I (we) ever saw
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Re: Jurgen and Pauls jolly Israel adventure, Part 1, The North.

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Wed May 23, 2012 5:12 pm

I'm wondering if Jürgen's Crocothemis might be servilia ...
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Re: Jurgen and Pauls jolly Israel adventure, Part 1, The North.

Postby Peter Oefinger » Wed May 23, 2012 6:09 pm

Phantastic collection of snakes!
@Paul: Where are the orchids? :lol:
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Re: Jurgen and Pauls jolly Israel adventure, Part 1, The North.

Postby Paul Lambourne » Wed May 23, 2012 7:14 pm

Thanks for your kind words folks.. much appreciated..

Jeroen Speybroeck wrote:I'm wondering if Jürgen's Crocothemis might servilia .

Jeroen, I would agree looking at the length of the black stripe on the abdomen.. what do you think of Jurgens other dragonflys? Trithemis? brachythemis?

Peter Oefinger wrote:@Paul: Where are the orchids?


Peter.. there were hardly any plants, let alone orchids! :D Montenegro in three weeks.. should get some pics for you there..you had lizard pics what more do want :D
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