Israel - 21st of April to 25th of April 2016

Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Cyprus

Israel - 21st of April to 25th of April 2016

Postby Bastien Comment » Sat Jul 02, 2016 5:27 pm

Hi everyone,

As usually, posting my trip reports takes some time. But still better late than never ;)

So, with my friend Yannick Francioli, we had planned a 4-5 days trip to Montenegro. I had already put my days off at work and when it was time to book the flight and accommodation...well, obviously, as you understood from the title, we had to change our plans because of the weather. It was expected to rain there just during the days we had planned to come... So we had to make a quick and intelligent change and Israel came out as a very good alternative solution. We took contact with Aviad Bar who confirmed us what we thought: Israel is a very safe place (as long as you avoid the sensitive areas obviously) and a great place to herp. The only thing left was to convince my wife that it was safe which took some time but somehow I managed to do it :D

Although our preparation could have been better, we flew to Tel-Aviv on the 21st of April and met with Aviad and Guy Haimovich there. I take the opportunity to thank them both again very very much because it's thanks to them that our trip was so successful. Until the 25th, we've travelled with a rental car to the South, visited the surroundings of Eilat, the Negev desert and all parts in between that we could and I can confirm all what I had seen before from previous trip reports: Israel is a herping paradise! Now enough words, let's get to the pictures!

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Chameleo chameleon from Palmachim


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In-situ sleeping one


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Juvenile Dolichophis jugularis, the only snake found in the day (but well hidden under some cardboard)


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Nice desertic view on Ramon Crater


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In-situ Stenodactylus doriae at night (they are quite tricky to picture because obviously, anytime you get a good view, they take a run)


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Cerastes gasperetti


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Not so happy with our presence


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Back home


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Walterinnesia aegyptia


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This picture has cost me a 200 EUR fine because a few minutes after it, a ranger was passing by and well, you can imagine what came next...it is strictly forbidden to handle snakes in Israel and they indeed don't joke with this rule


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One of our few regrets: we haven't found the Uromastyx although we were in the right area for sure


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Our only herp there... We would have really preferred an Uromastyx as you can imagine


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A juvenile Walterinnesia aegyptia found by Aviad and Guy that didn't cost me anything ;-)


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Negev desert at the sunset. Perfect habitat for the Cerastes family as well as many other herps


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In-situ eating Acanthodactylus from the Negev


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Amazing how such a small lizard can create such an excitement among the herpers :-D


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One of the many Cerastes vipera found that night thanks to Aviad and Guy (looking for snakes following their tracks is very different to what we are used to with our Vipera aspis and Vipera berus)


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What a spectacle to see them digging into the sand


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Platyceps rogersi


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Stunning mantis


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Lytorhynchus diadema


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In-situ Cerastes vipera


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Chalcides sepsoides


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In-situ Stenodactylus petrii


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Some shots of a very unhappy Cerastes vipera


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Can you see it? In the middle of the image, you should see two small eyes... Amazing how well they can camouflage


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Black camel spider, very difficult to picture because they never stop running everywhere


Now a pretty stunning scene happened in front of us. Unfortunately, we indirectly played a role as you'll understand. First, the actors:

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Lytorhynchus diadema found by Aviad hidden in a small sand dune


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Black widow


We released the Lytorhynchus without really paying attention to where and how (actually a few meters away from the bush in which the spider was) and just when we were about to move forward, I lit up the place and noticed that the Lytorhynchus was doing some very strange moves. It seemed to have some spasms and wasn't moving normally. I came closer and understood why...

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The poor guy had escaped right in the middle of the spider web! It was obviously already too late for us to do anything for him so all we could do was to take some impressive pictures.

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On the way back to the car, we still managed to find some more Cerastes vipera but unfortunately, we missed the Cerastes cerastes.

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Tongue flipping Cerastes


And on the road, another unexpected surprise crossed the road in front of us:

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Telescopus hoogstraali


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Re: Israel - 21st of April to 25th of April 2016

Postby Mario Schweiger » Sat Jul 02, 2016 5:37 pm

nice report and stunning, how fast the widow killed the snake.
Sorry for the 200 € :oops:
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Please visit also my personal Herp-site vipersgarden.at
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Re: Israel - 21st of April to 25th of April 2016

Postby Bastien Comment » Sat Jul 02, 2016 6:03 pm

One of our top wanted specie was obviously the Daboia palaestinae. Unfortunately, we had missed it on the first day when we went herping with Aviad and Guy at Palmachim (we had actually not even seen any snake that night to their big surprise and disappointment despite many promising tracks). So in this case, the best chance is to use the good old "word of mouth" system. Aviad had informed all his friends and one of them, Arbel Levy, a snake catcher, contacted us to inform that he had removed a big one from a home and that he was about to go release it in the wild and that we could come with him if we wanted. If we wanted? Well, we would have travelled through the whole country not to miss that so you bet we wanted! We met with him in a pine forest around noon and weren't disappointed as you'll see. That Daboia was big and very nicely colored (in our opinion at least because he told us it was a rather dark specimen). It was very excited because of the warmth of the day (and probably because it wanted to escape I can imagine) but we still managed to take some very good pictures.

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This is the place in which he released the Daboia


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And there it is! Firstly held by Arbel's tong to give you an idea of its size


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And then, instead of escaping into a hole or under a shelter, it went straight in a bush next to us and climbed in the tree next to it!

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Seems like a good place doesn't it?


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Hmmm I'm not so sure


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Still hesitating


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Damn, let's get higher, let's reach for the stars!


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Until I can't anymore


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Now this feels like a safe place (although I would have probably gone higher if I had had the chance to...)


So although we've only seen one Daboia, we've had the chance to witness an amazing show from that beauty. And honestly, we were stunned to see how easily it could climb into the trees (our asps and berus don't do that ;)).

We've kept searching into the forest for a bit more than an hour but it was so warm, we decided to take a break in a McDonald's not too ar away and after some chatting on What'sApp with Guy, we've decided to drive another 2-3 hours to the South to give a last try to two species we had missed so far: the Pseudocerastes and the Echis. Well, we've missed the first one but finally, it was a good decision for our last night road herping.

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Another Telescopus hoogstraali found crossing the road


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Atractaspis engaddensis


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Such an amazing snake (like most snakes in Israel actually)


And finally, the very wanted Echis coloratus:

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And just when we thought it was the end, Yannick told me to stop because he thought he had seen something in the middle of the road. Very well spotted Yannick, again another amazing scene right in front of us:

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A juvenile Echis coloratus swallowing a small lizard


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So in conclusion, I'll say like I said before that Israel was a fantastic place to herp. Aviad Bar and Guy Haimovich have been incredibly helpful and kind with us and I might repeat myself a bit but I still want to thank them again and again for everything!

We still have some species that we would like to see (Cerastes cerastes, Pseudocerastes fieldi, Montivipera bornmuelleri and obviousyl all the rest) so it's definitely not impossible that we will go back there sooner or later. Yannick will probably want to add some of his pictures (he had a much better flash than I and has some better photographing technique than I so it will be interesting that he adds some of his points of view) so you can still expect some more in this post!

Happy summer to all of you and happy herping too!
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Re: Israel - 21st of April to 25th of April 2016

Postby Bastien Comment » Sat Jul 02, 2016 6:07 pm

Hi Mario!

Thanks for the feedback. Indeed, it was amazing but actually, the poor snake was not completely dead even when we've left it. It was still moving (but was it only some kind of nervous moves although it was dead? Maybe...)
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Re: Israel - 21st of April to 25th of April 2016

Postby Ilian Velikov » Sat Jul 02, 2016 7:47 pm

Great stuff! I love that Daboia and Echis eating the lizard. The spider situation is incredible too. What was the size of the snake and the spider?
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Re: Israel - 21st of April to 25th of April 2016

Postby Jürgen Gebhart » Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:40 am

Some cool pics!
You found Cerastes gasperettii and no Cerastes cerastes? Very strange!!!

Love the Daboia!!! What a Beauty!
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Re: Israel - 21st of April to 25th of April 2016

Postby Yannick Francioli » Sun Jul 03, 2016 3:13 pm

Finally the report is out :lol: !
Here are some of my pictures, I won't put all of them here but just go on my flickr album. Enjoy !

ImageChameleo chameleo by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageDolichophis jugularis asianus juvenile by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageCerastes gasparetti mendelssohni by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageWalterinnesia aegyptia by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageWalterinnesia aegyptia juvenile by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImagePlatyceps rogersi by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageCerastes vipera by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageLytorhynchus diadema by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageCerastes vipera by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageStenodactylus petrii by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageCerastes vipera by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageTelescopus hoogstraali by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageDaboia palaestinae by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageDaboia palaestinae by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageAtractaspis engaddensis by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageEchis coloratus by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

ImageEchis coloratus by Yannick Francioli, sur Flickr

And again, a big thanks to Aviad and Guy for their help, this trip was amazing !
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Re: Israel - 21st of April to 25th of April 2016

Postby Rémon ter Harmsel » Sun Jul 03, 2016 4:42 pm

Stunning! Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Israel - 21st of April to 25th of April 2016

Postby Bobby Bok » Mon Jul 04, 2016 2:39 pm

Very high on my wishlist this country! Great finds and the tree climbing Daboia is fantastic!
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Re: Israel - 21st of April to 25th of April 2016

Postby Jelmer Groen » Mon Jul 04, 2016 6:57 pm

Great finds indeed. You guys saw lots of nice species in quite a short period of time. Congrats on that and thanks for sharing the report!

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