Trip report Lorraine and the Var\Provence

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Trip report Lorraine and the Var\Provence

Postby Christoph Stenger » Fri May 18, 2018 2:12 pm

Over the last couple of years I have always enjoyed herping trips with some of my friends. In 2017 we had planned a trip to Piemonte to go herping for Vipera walser in May but unfortunately I had to cancel my participation as I had to take over an important business appointment for my father. The rest of the crew decided to cancel the trip too. As we were making plans for 2018 in summer 2017 we found out that there would be some more challenges that would have to be mastered in 2018 as member of the crew had decided to go on vacation with his family in May of 2018 and another one did not know if he could make it at all in May. But there was light at the end of the tunnel: a friend of mine and I had been able to fix a date for herping in May. Originally we had wanted to spent all the time together during ‚herping week but he had to work and was not able to leave from work until Wednesday afternoon. But we managed to work out our plans around these restrictions rather well.

Target species were Hierophis viridiflavus (my personal favorite), Vipera aspis, Vipera ursinii, Malpolon m. monspessulanus, and Timon lepidus.

I had decided to spend two to three days on the road and make the most of my time but during the course of time I changed my mind and decided to just go to a place in Lorraine for H. viridiflavus and get the rest of the driving done in one day . I left my house early Sunday morning to drive to a Hierophis viridiflavus spot in the vicinity of Bar Le Duc (almost the northernmost known population of the Western Whipsnake ) in Lorraine. We had been successful at that spot, an abandoned saw mill, in 2016 and I wanted to see how the population there was doing.

I arrived there after a five hour drive in perfect sunshine. I spent two hours walking the perimeter. All I found was a couple of P. muralis and saw two H. viridiflavus disappear in the dense undergrowth. Unfortunately it was not possible to take pictures as they disappeared too fast after I had almost stepped on them. All in all I think it was already too late in the year as vegetation was already very high and dense. Probably would have had more success a few weeks earlier. If, if, if and when only...

Well, I hit the road again and enjoyed the drive towards the South of France. I arrived in the Var where my family’s vacation home is in the early evening after a very long drive with some heavy rain and traffic jams.

On Monday morning I drove up to the Var countryside in the north and visited the Gorges du Verdon via Ampus and Aiguines. No reptiles were ancountered as the weather was clouded with some rain showers and gusts of wind. After passing the south rim of the Gorges I then drove from west to east untill I reached La Bastide and the Montagne de Lachens. I ended up on the summit of the Montagne de Lachens and saw – nothing! Well, no wonder. It was 5 degrees Celsius and very dense fog. Nevertheless I will go back there later this year as the view from the mountain top will be stunning and probably interesting in terms of animals and plants.

The next morning after a luxurius breakfast (cup of coffee) I headed a little more south to conduct a scouting mission for some yet to me unknown habitats of T. hermanni hermanni. The weather was very nice until around 1300 when it started to pur down on me. Until 1300 I had found only some nice Orchids I had never seen before and almost run over a T. lepidus running along the road I was driving on. I jumped out of the car but only saw it disappear between some cork oaks. So, sorry, no pics of that one.



For Wednesday I decided to just chill andI slept in and just enjoyed the silence around the house – accompanied by omnipresent Tarentola mauretanica. Great! A lot later that day I picked my friend up at Nice airport.

The next day was hard herping again…

We got up early and had just a small coffe and some muesli. The we headed for the Plaine des Maures. Just after getting out of the car we were adressed by some nice officers of the environmental police who reminded us to stay on the tracks and not to touch anything... I guess we must have looked suspicious. Loaded and dressed with cameras and field glasses we soon spotted some nice orchids and then – after a while of searching – an adult T. lepidus that was in the process of shedding. We took a lot of pictures – observed by several people walking by that thought what we were doing was strange. We also looked for T. hermanni but did not find any there. The next thing we found – besides a lot of people enjoying nature and sun – was a Psammodromus ssp. As ist started to get really warm we decided to go someplace else and after a short drive we discovered a old quarry that was crowded with T. mauretanica in a somewhat more natural habitat that ordinary house walls. Not really expecting to find anything I just took my phone with me and was really surprised to almost step on a T. hermanni after a few minutes. It´s been sitting outside ist hideout. I called my friend to keep an eye on it and sprinted back to the car to get my camera. After a short photo session we left the tortoise alone and found a young and very thin Malpolon m.m. sitting on a rock surrounded by Tarentola mauretanica – I wonder if it survived as it looked sick.

Friday we went to the mountainous hinterland Provence with a lot of driving and little success until we were almost back home again when we stopped an old bridge where we found P. muralis and a single female Lacerta bilineata. Continuinuing our way back I saw a fallen road sign that I decided to lift – underneath I found an adult female H. viridiflavus. Of course this one too would be subject to being photographed.

Saturday was not really successful herping wise but it was a nice day in terms of enjoying the Var landscape. Again we went to the Plaine des Maures trying to find the T. lepidus again and hoping it would have shed but it was not at „his“ rock. In a nearby lake I saw two Emys orbicularis that turned out to be Trachemys ssp. after spotting them with the field glasses.  Also the quarry was „empty“ except for the T. mauretanica population. We then drove to another nearby natural reserve but there again we found nothing besides plants and landscape.

I think it is not necessary to repeat for each day that the weather as well as food and drinks were enjoyed very much!

The weather was quite cold and rainy in average with some very hot highlights.

Very, very early Sunday – after some really splendid time in France – we drove back home to Germany and arrived there in the early evening.

Pictures I will post after I find out how to minimze their size so they will be compatible with the forum. I have just tested a new Nikon and the pictures are huge in terms of MB.
Cheers

Christoph
Christoph Stenger
 
Posts: 97
Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:11 pm
Location: Hanau
Hometown: Hanau
country: Deutschland

Re: Trip report Lorraine and the Var\Provence

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Sun May 20, 2018 3:27 pm

To resize pictures I use Irfanview ;)
Ruggero Morimando
 
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country: Italy

Re: Trip report Lorraine and the Var\Provence

Postby Christoph Stenger » Sun May 20, 2018 5:19 pm

Been working on it... It is a superb pita... not much sucess.

Working with apple has some advantages but also some disadvantages...
Cheers

Christoph
Christoph Stenger
 
Posts: 97
Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:11 pm
Location: Hanau
Hometown: Hanau
country: Deutschland

Re: Trip report Lorraine and the Var\Provence

Postby Christoph Stenger » Tue May 22, 2018 9:54 am

Ok, I give up - I am not able to minimize the pictures to a decent size. :oops:

Is there anyone I could email them to to add them to this thread? :?:

Cheers
Cheers

Christoph
Christoph Stenger
 
Posts: 97
Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:11 pm
Location: Hanau
Hometown: Hanau
country: Deutschland


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