Peloponnese, Summer 2022



Summer usually isn't the best time for herping the mediterranean, but since I am forced to go during public holidays if I want to travel with my girlfriend, there weren't a lot of alternative options. Because the Peloponnese is one of Europe's most diverse regions, I decided to give it a shot in summer, knowing that I wasn't going to find a ton.

As expected, numbers were low and especially as a one man herping team, finding anything took a lot of effort. The hot dry weather restricted me to mornings and evenings, evenings being filled with tons of pesky mosquitos. I managed to rack up a decent species list, finding 17 species of reptile and amphibian in total.

We started the trip of near Pylos, where I found African chameleon rather easily, although all in horrible locations, so my desired photo didn't happen. Some waterfalls delivered Greek rock lizards (Hellenolacerta graeca), Greek stream frogs (Rana graeca) and super cool freshwater crabs (Potamon fluvatile). A few other lizards were seen, but their sightings were rather poor, as the lizards were hot hot hot and super quick.

After our stay near Pylos we went north, visiting the Strofilia forest. On the way there we stopped in a harbor for the coolest herp and best wildlife experience of the trip. In the harbor in this small town, we observed several loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), from a really short distance, witnessing cool fighting/playing behaviour made the stop very rewarding. Once arrived in the forest, we found 2 species of snake; dice snakes (Natrix tessellata) and grass snakes (Natrix natrix persa). I also found large numbers of snake-eyed skink (Ablepharus kitaibelii), some of which cooperated for pictures. I found a good site for Vipera ammodytes that I recognised from a herp report, but we ran out of mosquito repellent as it was getting dark. During a short photo session with one of the grass snakes my arms turned black from the number of mosquitos, so we sadly retreated to the car. Near this forest I also found and photographed Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni) including one individual active during the evening.

During the trip I felt sort of disappointed, despite the low expectations, there was still hope for a cool snake. Considering we only found dice snakes (Natrix tessellata) and grass snakes (Natrix natrix persa) up till the last day, both of which I'd seen before (although this subspecies of grass snake was new to me), I wasn't in the greatest mood picture wise. The last evening I headed up to a small abandoned castle to photograph the milky way and ended up finding the coolest snake of the trip; a cat snake (Telescopus fallax). Very happy (with both the milky way image and the cat snake find) we returned to the apartment, to fly home the next day. A relaxing trip, mostly spent snorkeling and reading on the beach, still allowed us to see some cool places, swim in a cave and under beautiful waterfalls and even brought me a few new species. Combined with the friendly people and great food, the Peloponesse is definetely a place to return in spring sometime!