CROATIA 2013

Croatian Photo-Herp Trip
Zagreb & Istria

 

Western Medvednica, Zagreb County

Neven and I met with local herpetologist Mladen Zadravec and drove out to the Western Medvednica Mountains, northwest of Zagreb, to a location which Mladen said was good for one of my target species, the Nose-horn viper (Vipera ammodytes). We met up with a Croatian television film crew at service station, they would accompany us for part of the day and film anything we found, then meet up again the following day for interviews with Neven and myself at the exhibition.

 

Mladen Zadravec, Mark O'Shea and Neven Vrbanic

With the television film crew, and two interested Croatian park guards, accompanying us we set off onto Mladen's study site and almost immediately we found a male Eastern green lizard (Lacerta viridis viridis) sheltering in the vegetation besides the track and then Mladen found our first Nose-horn viper.

Photographing the first
Nose-horn viper,
Vipera ammodytes
Photo: Neven Vrbanic

 

 

Nose-horn viper, Vipera ammodytes
habitat

It was hot and dusty walking through this scrub habitat but we did get results. The film crew found a pair of mating Nose-horn vipers which we were able to photograph and film before releasing them back into the undergrowth.

 

The film crew encountered a mating pair in the undergrowth near here

 

How to settle a pair of vipers for photography using HexArmor gloves
(mouse-over image)
Photo: Neven Vrbanic

 

And getting the shot
Nose-horn viper, Vipera ammodytes
Photo: Neven Vrbanic

 

Further on, after the film crew had left us, we encountered an adult Aesculapian snake (Zamensis longissimus longissimus) crossing the trail...

 

An adult Aescupalian snake, Zamensis longissimus longissimus
was found crossing this path

 

Helping Mladen take the cloacal temperature of the adult
Aescupalian snake
, Zamensis longissimus longissimus

Photo: Neven Vrbanic

 

a second specimen evaded capture by shooting down the slope. Soon after we found a Mediterranean toad (Bufo bufo spinosus) sheltering under some track-side debris - Mladen said he was always there.

Another escaped into the dense vegetation further on

After a break for water and to photograph the first Nose-horn viper and the Aesculapian snake, which Mladen had retained to obtain his data before release, and the photography of a juvenile Eastern green lizard, and one of the Balkan yellow-bellied toads (Bombina variegata scabra) found living in some flooded wheel-ruts, we started to work our way back to the car.

Neven and Mark photographing the
Aesculapian snake, Zamensis longissimus longissimus
Photo: Mladen Zadravec
Nonvenomous snakes can be settled more easily under your hand
Aesculapian snake, Zamensis longissimus longissimus
Photo: Neven Vrbanic

 

 

But it usually takes a little while and expect a few bites!
Aesculapian snake, Zamensis longissimus longissimus
Photo: Mladen Zadravec

 

Ever alert Mladen lunged into the vegetation but failed to capture another Nose-horn viper which poured itself under a large boulder. It could not be extracted without some effort and potential risk to ourselves and the viper so we left it in its retreat and departed.

A Youtube video of this field trip can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/q4xotVuVSmQ

 

Mladen with a smile on his face despite just missing a
Nose-horn viper, Vipera ammodytes
under a large boulder