SPAIN 2011

Spanish Photo-Herp Trip


Robledondo, Madrid Province


The habitats out at Robledondo were quite different from those around Valdemorillo or Zarzalejo.
We visited two locations near Robledondo to search for vipers.

Location 1 comprised a large area of exposed rocky outcrops which towered above a small river and as viper habitat goes, it looked perfect with plenty of prey, basking areas and escape routes when humans or birds of prey appeared on the skyline. We visited this location on all three field days (13th-15th).

Robledondo location 1 rocky outcrops either side of a small river
a Viperine watersnake, Natrix maura, was found in the concrete culvert
click on the images to enlarge

A Viperine watersnake (Natrix maura) was found, completely motionless on account of it being cold from the river water, lying in the shadows of the concrete culvert.

Robledondo location 1 rocky outcrops offering numerous microhabitats for arid reptiles

Climbing the rocky outcrops was hot and tiring work but it did yield reptiles, ie. Iberian wall lizards (Podarcis hispanica hispanica), adult and juvenile Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus) and several Iberian worm-lizards (Blanus cinereus). Eyed lizard (Timon lepidus lepidus) were seen peering over large rocks in the valley but they disappeared rapidly when approached. But there were no amphibians and no vipers although the latter were are assuredly there, but alert and easily missed.

An alert
Iberian wall lizard, Podarcis hispanicus hispanicus
An equally alert
Eyed lizard, Timon lepidus lepidus

Although much of the elevated habitat was hot and arid the river offered an oasis of cool and calm for species requiring more humid conditions. This was Location 2.

Robledondo location 2 a river runs through it, and offers suitable habitat for amphibians and aquatic reptiles

In the valley we found a single Bedriaga's skink (Chalcides bedriagai), several more Viperine watersnakes, the same lizards we had seen on the rocky slopes, and also amphibians, ie. Iberian water frogs (Pelophylax perezi) and Common toads (Bufo bufo bufo). Giant Megarian banded centipedes (Scolopendra cingulata) were also found under many of the rocks.

Mark engaged in macro-photography of herps using Canon cameras, lenses and flashguns,
Lastolite Cubelite photo-dome,
LowePro Vertex 200 and Rezo bags and
Rogue Flashbenders.
Dave and Tom also take advantage of the Cubelite.


What are these guys photographing ?
A little
Viperine watersnake
, Natrix maura,
hunting fish in the shallows


Location 3 was much smaller than Location 1 and 2 and consisted of rocky scree in coniferous woodland. We visited this area on the 13th and 14th but because it was the location where we found Lataste's vipers (Vipera latatesi latastei) we have been careful to obsure its locality to protect the viper population from persecution or collection. Despite the location being relatively small it still required a lot of work over two days to find three vipers in this habitat and since two (a pre-ecdysis subadult and an adult female) evaded capture we had to be satisifed with photographing the single male that Tom caught. Other reptiles in the same location included the Large Psammodromus and Iberian wall lizard.

Location 2, rocky scree in coniferous woodland, three vipers seen in two days, tough habitat
Tom bags the male
Lataste's viper
, Vipera latastei latastei,
for later photography in a safer location
The exact location where the viper was caught, GPS taken for return to the same site