Paphos, Cyprus 2014

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Paphos, Cyprus 2014

Postby Thor Hakonsen » Sat Jun 14, 2014 4:14 pm

There is now 12 hours since I got home from my trip to Cyprus. This was not a pure herping trip - but I had my wife and son with me, so I could not use all my time for herping. But then again, I think I got to use enough time, as it started to get very hot.
We stayed in Paphos, which is situated on the south-western coast of Cyprus.

We arrived late at night on friday 06.june, so there was no time for herping the first day. The very next morning I rented a bike at the hotel, and took out in the direction that looked most promesing - afted cycled about 2 km I hear some water trinkeling in the trees by the road, so I found the nearest way to get in there. What I found was a place with many green houses which was no longer in use (or in any state to be used) and an orchard with apple, citrus and orange trees (which was why there still was water there) I walked around for some hours this first day, and saw many, many Phoenicolacerta troodica and also 2 Ablepharus budaki under some garbage. And some Laudakia (Stellagama) stellio ran madly through the bushed before I could see them

Phoenicolacerta troodica_080614_001_web.jpg
Pheonicolacerta troodica

Phoenicolacerta troodica_130614_001_web.jpg
Pheonicolacerta troodica

Very different coloration of these izards..

I also went back early the following morning, and after I'd been there an hour, the farmer arrived. A nice gentleman who was very interested in what I was doing - he told me that there usually was lot of snakes on his orchard, but that it was to hot now. He also told me about the big, dangerous snake with the triangular head that lived on Cyprus - but he had never seen this snake in his orchard. When I walked around this area this morning I stumbled upon a Hyla savignyi sleeping in the top side of a big leaf. Pure luck :)

Hyla savignyi_080614_002_web.jpg
Hyla savignyi - this was how this one was found

Hyla savignyi_080614_001_web.jpg
Hyla savignyi

The next day Budget delivered my rental car - and the it dawned upon me, these guys drive on the wrong side of the road, and the steering wheel is also on the wrong side of the car :)
To my delight, the rental company was out of the small economy car I'd ordered, and they gave me a Toyota RAV4 with at automatic gear - this made the madness much easier!

With the car in place - I took an afternook trip around the area and found some more Laudakia stellio, and loads of Phoenicolacerta. The next morning I drove up to a dam, hoping to find some creeks with water and there M.lebetina and other snakes. But no luck - there was not a drop of water to find out of the reservoir, and the water level in this one also was very low. Later this day I headed back to the orchard and saw a Dolpicophis jugularis, but it was to quick. I also heard some tree frogs singing, but was not able to locate them (the sun was still up). But did see some lizards that probably was Acanthodactylus schreiberi. I did not get any pictures, but there is not much else it could be on Cyprus.

The following day I was time to take up a tip I got from some guys who were on Cyprus a couple of weeks before me. They had found a M.lebetina up in the Troodos Mountains - So I headed the car in that direction and with some difficulty I found the spot given. A nice small dammed up lake. But after walking around some hours, still no luck on the vipers. Only more agamas and Troodos Lizards. When I was sitting trying to photograph an agama, just behind be two Troodos Lizards started a mating behaviour with waving and tail biting.

Phoenicolacerta troodica_100614_001_web.jpg
Phoenicolacerta troocica, female waving

Phoenicolacerta troodica_100614_003_web.jpg
Pheonicolacerta trooica, male with female in the background

After nightfall this day, I got back to the orchard hoping to find chameleons sleeping in the trees and tree frogs (not sleeping) - there was no chamelons - but hundreds of Hylas

Hyla savignyi_100614_001_web.jpg
Hyla savignyi

Hyla savignyi_100614_002_web.jpg
Hyla savignyi

The very next day I had arranged to meet up with Guillerme, which is a spaniard just moved to Cyprus to work in the Paphos Zoo. When I met up with him he had with him a "surprice" for me. Two Macrovipera lebetina that had been found inside the Zoo - and he was going to relocate them somewhere safe. So off course I joined this, to get guaranteed to photograph the species. We drove to a more remote spot and photographed and released them

Macrovipera lebetina lebetina_110614_005_web.jpg
Macrovipera lebetina lebetina, juvenile - released

Macrovipera lebetina lebetina_110614_007_web.jpg
Macrovipera lebetina lebetina - released

Macrovipera lebetina lebetina_110614_011_web.jpg
Macrovipera lebetina lebetina - released II

Macrovipera lebetina lebetina_110614_013_web.jpg
Macrovipera lbetina lebetina - released III

Now my shouldes was a bit lovered, I had seen the fantastic Blunt-nosed Viper, and I had shots of it. After we had released them we decided that I should show him the orchard, as he had not seen the Hylas on Cyprus yet.

We walked around a bit, and found both Hemidactylus turcicus and Mediodactylus kotschyi fitzingeri under rocks and garbage. We only got photos of the Turkish ones

Hemidactylus turcicus_110614_002_web.jpg
Hemidactylus turcicus

While looking for more Kotschy's gecko to photograph, Guillerme lifted up an plastic tractor (the ones with pedals for kids) which was half way under a bush... there it was, a large Blunt-nosed Viper

2014-06-11 13.44.48_web.jpg

There was much celebrating and handshaking (after we've picked it out, not without difficulty, and placed it under my sexy hat) before we started to photograph this lovely animal. The estiamted size was around 90cm

2014-06-11 13.34.01_Web.jpg
Sexy hat

So to the pictures of the lovely animal - found about 50 meters from where I talked to the farmer, telling me he had never seen M.lebetinas here :)

Macrovipera lebetina lebetina_110614_015_web.jpg
Macrovipera lebetina lebetina, orchard I

Macrovipera lebetina lebetina_110614_016_web.jpg
Macrovipera lebetina lebetina, orchard II

From now on the shouldes was really low - I even got the time to get a sunburn on my chest and shouldes by the pool :)

The last day I went out again to try to get some decent shots of the agama and some shots at all of the Kotchy's Gecko - the gecko went ok. But the agamas are a pain in the ass.. do they have a sence like Spider Man ?

Mediodactylus kotschyi fitzingeri_120614_001_web.jpg
Mediodactylus kotschyi fintzingeri I

Mediodactylus kotschyi fitzingeri_120614_002_web.jpg
Mediodactylus kotschyi fintzingeri II

Laudakia stellio cypriaca_130614_001_web.jpg
Laudakia stellio cypriaca

All in all a fantaxtic trip, even though the amount of species found and photographed is not big..

Species list :

Hyla savignyi

Mediodactylus kotschyi fintzingeri
Hemidactylus turcicus
Phoenicolacerta troodica
Acanthodactylus schreiberi
Ablepharus budaki

Dolichophis jugularis
Macrovipera lebetina lebetina
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Re: Paphos, Cyprus 2014

Postby Andre Schmid » Sat Jun 14, 2014 7:57 pm

Very nice pics of very nice species, I like ! Thankks for sharing :)
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Re: Paphos, Cyprus 2014

Postby Jürgen Gebhart » Sat Jun 14, 2014 10:18 pm

I like the Grey savignyi!
Congrats on the lebetina!!
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Re: Paphos, Cyprus 2014

Postby Daniel Kane » Sat Jun 14, 2014 11:03 pm

Congrats on it all! Nice photos, and another reason for anyone who can to go on a 'family holiday': Seems to guarantee great results! I am not surprised that the zoo has snakes living within it. The surrounding habitat looks great for a lot of species and all the mice/rats/birds attracted to the zoo must bring in the reptiles from miles around.
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Re: Paphos, Cyprus 2014

Postby Paul Lambourne » Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:38 pm


I enjoyed your report, I have always loved Cyprus..
Thor Hakonsen wrote: it dawned upon me, these guys drive on the wrong side of the road, and the steering wheel is also on the wrong side of the car

they do in fact drive on the correct side of the road, I think you will find :D

It is an excellent place to have the balance between a family holiday and some crafty herping.. it is possible to see pretty much all the small islands species in a week, without too much effort.

Lebetina remains a stunning animal, always exciting to see in whichever location/country. I still need to see the grass snake!


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Re: Paphos, Cyprus 2014

Postby Bobby Bok » Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:55 am

Beautiful pictures, the lebetina is a stunner and great to see the highly variable savignyi's.
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Re: Paphos, Cyprus 2014

Postby Kevin Byrnes » Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:44 pm

This seems a good place to ask this question, is it ok to tick species off of the euro list if one sees them on Cyprus?
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Re: Paphos, Cyprus 2014

Postby Paul Lambourne » Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:53 pm


Personally IMHO I am happy to tick off a species from Cyprus as part of a euro list.. Cyprus is in the EU after all.. others will not, its really up to you.. there are no Eurotwitch police :D Maybe Jeroen as Hoofdcommissaris. :shock: If the species is the same as the one one found in Europe what is the difference? If it is a sub species, likely to be split then I think you should not count it.

Some people only count species they have photographed, some people count tadpoles as a species tick, others only adult specimens, some people count dead specimens... its really up to you and what you are comfortable with..

There are also differing opinions as to what is on the Euro list.. do you count alien species if established etc..

At the end of the day, this should just be fun and not stressy... :D


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Re: Paphos, Cyprus 2014

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Mon Jun 16, 2014 8:32 pm

Paul Lambourne wrote:this should just be fun and not stressy

Whaaaat!? Fun!?

1) From a zoogeographical perspective but also geographically, Cyprus is not a part of Europe. Or was the question restricted to twitching European species outside Europe?
2) I tend to count alien species if they are long established and reproducing, but I know others don't count them at all & I'm not too fanatic about going to see the Spanish Ommatotriton. This may also be a rather random neverending story (especially if you think outside of herping).

Both issues come into play when Bobby hits Malta over and over again. Can he twitch Algerian Whip Snake in Morocco for his European list? Or can he just forget about the Maltese population, as it is alien in origin?

Of course, this is a silly game and we are all free to set our own rules. Note that US herpers tend to count only animals they find personally, so not if found by fellow travelers - if I'd live by those rules, I'd have still quite a few European snakes to tackle. Counting dead animals is a bit... depressing, imho, so I would never count those, although I might have cheated on the occasions of some species outside of Europe. The silliness goes on with "ok, but what if the dead animal looks so intact you can't tell from a picture that it's actuall dead?" and bla-di-bla-bla.

What a nerdy topic, right?
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Re: Paphos, Cyprus 2014

Postby Peter Oefinger » Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:31 am

Jeroen Speybroeck wrote:What a nerdy topic, right?

Of course - like99% of the stuff in this forum.

Counting alien species or not, counting Cyprus of not - for me, these are minor issues depending on personal taste - I have the Dodekanes Islands on my list, which actually shouldn't count. A bigger point is that most of us do not count Eastern Europe (Ukraine / Russia). I don't feel good about that because it is too obvious why we excude these areas...
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