Victory is mine

Our plan was to leave the island of Krk behind us today, and travel further south towards the Velobet mountains. I was somewhat disappointed in the success of my herpetology field trips: One grass snake (no photos), countless wall lizards, of which I could only photograph the very common (but nonetheless beautiful) Podarcis siculus, several Algyroides nigropunctatus, and one large Lacerta trilineata that I also couldn’t capture on camera. I expected more than this.

On our way out, I convinced Heike that I had toe visit two sites, as I had found some descriptions that included several snake species.

The first place was somewhat disappointing. It’s the only freshwater lake on Krk, but all it’s shores turned out to be quite densely forested, dominated by dense thorny shrubs. I could probably force myself through, but I had my son with me, and I’m not sure he’d like it. I decided to follow the hiking and biking trail that followed the lake’s shoreline, albeit from a distance. I probably walked about two to three kilometers, and passed some strange, seemingly abandoned buildings, surrounded by garbage bins and sewage pipes. I took a turn left, which should take me closer to the lake. After another kilometer or so, I finally saw the lake: probably a good 50 meters of reed beds. I realized that I wouldn’t get any closer to the lake than this. This far, the trail had only yielded wall lizards. How surprising. On the way back, I decided to check out the abandoned facility, while carrying my son on my shoulders. Of course, that’s when we finally saw a silid black snake slither away in front of us. A western whip snake, Hierophis viridiflavus! It got away before I could get my camera, as I first had to get my son to the ground. Not ideal, but hey, a new species for me, so I was happy nonetheless!

The trail along the lake
No clue what this is, but a very pretty flower!

The second place was a trail just north of the airstrip. A barely used gravel trail, with rocky slightly sloping terrain on either side. Lot’s of sheep’s grass and juniper shrubs, and generally quite open. It was easy terrain, so I could bring my baby daughter in a sling on my back. She slept the entire time. Here there was lots and lots of activity. Wall lizards running all around, but at this site it was predominantly Podarcis melisellensis. Furthermore, I found a dozen or so basking Lacerta trilineata, and I managed to get crappy pictures of both. It was already a win!

Podarcis melisellensis
Lacerta trilineata

After a kilometer or so, the road was barred by a large gate to keep the sheep inside, but I could luckily cross it. The gate was connected to southeastward facing rock walls. I decided to follow the wall towards the sea. The terrain was made out of sharp (volcanic?) rock. Very sharp, and much less vegetation on this sid of the walls. I walked around the grassiest parts for a bit. At the point where I decided to throw in the towel and turn around, I saw something tiny grey crawl around my boot. She was thin, dehydrated, and had clearly had a shitty winter, but it was a long-nosed viper! Vipera ammodytes. I was in an awkward position on sharp rock, but managed to get the worst picture ever! I may not have lost my snake finding skills, but my photography has certainly seen better days.

Vipera ammodytes

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

5 thoughts on “Victory is mine

  1. I have H. viridiflavus living in my orchard. They are by far the most abundant species in the Touraine Val de Loire. I’ve got viper envy though — I’ve never seen that species. The lovely flower is undoubtedly an anemone of some sort.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really? I’ve only seen Natrix maura and N. natrix and Vipera berus in France. I’ve been on the lookout for everything else in various southern regions from Biarritz to Nice, but somehow I always fail miserably (considering that I’m one of those types looking for them…). My parents in-law came back from an Austria trip late last summer, telling me that they found Zamenis longissimus about two hours from my home in Bavaria… Another species I’ve been looking for for ages. Still plenty of time to hunt here in Croatia in the coming days/weeks. I certainly hope to find another viper for a better picture and full glory (this particular individual is the most miserable wild snake I have seen ever…).


      1. I’ve never seen N. maura, even though a friend has them living at his place in the next valley. I see N. natrix sometimes. V. berus is extinct in the Touraine Val de Loire. We have V. aspis,here, which I see from time to time. I’ve seen V. berus in the UK..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve kept asps in captivity for a few years, but only found it once in Catalunya, close to Girona. Wonderful animals. I saw Vipera berus in the French Pyrenees, close to Andorra. To be honest, I had expected Vipera aspis there, or maybe even Vipera latasti, but as occurs to me frequently, I find abroad what I commonly find at home. I used to go on Vipera berus hunts when I was a teenager. Plenty of them where I grew up in the Netherlands.


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