SPAIN 2011

Spanish Photo-Herp Trip


April 12th to 16th 2011

Map of herping localities in western Madrid Province
(click on map to enlarge)


A group of four herpetologists and photographers from the UK decided to make a field trip to Spain, linking up with two Spanish herpetologists, to find and photograph as many reptiles, amphibians as possible in four days, and also anything else that took our fancy (usually venomous invertebrates).

From the UK:
Wolfgang Wüster (Univ. Wales, Bangor)
Dave Nixon (Stoke)
Tom Charlton (Gloucester)
Mark O'Shea (Shropshire)

From Spain:
Edgar Wefer (Valencia)
Juan Timms (Madrid)

The UK contingent flew from Liverpool to Madrid with easyJet, met Edgar and Juan and drove to Valdemorillo in western Madrid Province. The Hostel Almais was our base from the 12th - 16th April and from here we made trips out to the west of the province, searching suitable habitat.

The target species for the trip was Lataste's viper, Vipera latastei latastei, but we were interested in all reptiles and amphibians. Wolfgang has a favourite quotation: "No fangs, no fun!"
Whilst not strictly true it is a good indication of what pushes our buttons.

Unfortunately not everyone with an interest in Lataste's vipers is prepared to leave them where they found them. For this reason it has been necessary to obscure the locations where we found these snakes, to protect the small vulnerable populations from collection or destruction.

Western Madrid Province is right on the northern border for many southern species and the southern boarder for many northern species, so it is potentially a rich area for reptiles and amphibians.

Our herp species count for the trip was high = 18
This amounted to seven species of amphibians and eleven species of reptiles, with thirteen of the total being found on the first evening!


Madrid 2011 herp-photo group
after a successful 13-species first evening near Zarzalejo
(l-r) Edgar Wefer, Juan Timms, Dave Nixon, Wolfgang Wüster,
Tom Charlton and Mark O'Shea
photo: Edgar Wefer
(click on image to enlarge)


Juan Timms, Iberian reptile expert and top herp guide
photo: Edgar Wefer

No expedition functions to its maximum without local knowledge and ours was no different. I think I speak for all the members of the Madrid photo-herp trip when I say that we would never have been as successful in the field if it were not for the expertise and patience of Juan Timms. Juan has studied the reptiles and amphibians of this area since he was a child and his choice of locations not only enabled us to find the target species (Vipera latastei latastei) but also contributed hugely the the very considerable total species tally mentioned above.



Juan also has an excellent website dedicated to the vipers of the Iberian Peninsula, located @







1. Valdemorillo

2. Zarzalejo

3. Robledondo

4. Amphibians:
a) Frogs & Toads recorded during the field trip
b) Newts recorded during the field trip

5. Reptiles:
a) Terrapins recorded during the field trip
b) Lizards recorded during the field trip
c) Worm-lizards recorded during the field trip
d) Snakes recorded during the field trip

6. Invertebrates:
a) Scorpions & Centipedes

7. It's all about getting the shot!
A photomontage of herp photographers by Edgar Wefer

Expedition Results - a full herp life-list of the herpetofauna from the trip.

Planning your own herp-photo trip to Spain
click here for field guides


Photographing the target species,
Lataste's viper, Vipera latastei latastei,
photo: Dave Nixon