• Kevin Esser

Portugal, part II

Our second destination was Tavira. Unfortunately the C.19 restrictions were tightened and we were not allowed to leave the Concelho (district) of our adress. So the main spot to look for Chameleons, was not in our district and since the police interviewed us twice before, we did't want to risk any trouble. The weather also became a bit more autumn-like, so my hope to find Chameleons... vanished.

After most of the very cloudy day (14°C) wasted with looking for nice locations in our district and flipping rocks and stuff (finding nothing special), we went to the salt pans to look for birds. Birdwatching is actually fun too and with the proper equipment, it would be even nicer.


Egretta garzetta - Little Egret
Egretta garzetta - Little Egret
Platalea leucorodia - Eurasian Spoonbill
Platalea leucorodia - Eurasian Spoonbill
Phalacrocorax carbo - Great Cormorant
Phalacrocorax carbo - Great Cormorant
Himantopus himantopus - Black-winged Stilt
Himantopus himantopus - Black-winged Stilt
Too little light for a decent picture, so I took an experimental one
Too little light for a decent picture, so I took an experimental one

The weather forecast for Tavira area (and beyond) was super cloudy and rainy... so no chance to find reptiles. Sneaky Samira came up with a nice idea: we rent an additional apartment for one night to be legally allowed to move to another district. So we went to Monchique, since the rainy and quite cold weather is sh**ty for reptiles we were hoping to find close to the beach, but perfect for the Salamanders we would love to see in the mountains. Thanks to trip reports and google earth I was very confident I found a good spot. And when we came closer to the famous picnic site, I noticed some people with flashlights there. Fellow herpers? ...No. Just some young guys doing something (?) in the dark drizzle.

A little dissapointed we went past them and focused on our search for Amphibians. Very soon we found the first Fire Salamander (Salamandra s. crespoi), followed by some larvas in the stream and 13 adults. Also one Boscá's Newt was posing perfectly on a mossy stone and two Spiny Toads showed up. Almost all of the Salamanders were big mommies. After a cold night in the mountains, we went back to Tavira and made a short stop at the salamander spot for some last shots.


Fire Salamander - on the move
Fire Salamander - on the move
Salamandra s. crespoi - Fire Salamander
Salamandra s. crespoi - Fire Salamander
Bufo spinosus - Spiny Toad
Bufo spinosus - Spiny Toad
Fire Salamander larva
Fire Salamander larva
Fire Salamander - with nice red pattern
Fire Salamander - with nice red pattern
Lissotriton boscai - Boscá's Newt
Lissotriton boscai - Boscá's Newt
Salamandra s. crespoi - Fire Salamander
Salamandra s. crespoi - Fire Salamander

The afternoon in Tavira was rainy again so I convinced Samira to do some road herping with me. We found several Pygmy Marbled Newts and one Sharp-ribbed Newt. After saving them from the road, I took the oportunity for some more pictures. (Unfortunately also a few newts were found DOR).

Triturus pygmaeus - Pygmy Marbled Newt
Triturus pygmaeus - Pygmy Marbled Newt
Pygmy Marbled Newt - dorsal view
Pygmy Marbled Newt - dorsal view
Pygmy Marbled Newt - portrait
Pygmy Marbled Newt - portrait
Pleurodeles waltl - Sharp-ribbed Newt
Pleurodeles waltl - Sharp-ribbed Newt
Sharp-ribbed Newt - portrait
Sharp-ribbed Newt - portrait

Almost the end of our Algarve trip, the sun showed up again and gave us one last chance to search for Chameleons. So we checked the dune areas. First we searched together. After quite a while Samira sat down at the beach, relaxing like a normal tourist - while I was still staring in the bushes like an obsessed madman. Shortly after I picked up Samira and went with her towards the parking lot, I stopped walking and gasped: "I don't believe it... there is one!" A broad grin, that almost hurt my face was the result of this last minute observation. Pure joy!


Chamaeleo chamaeleon - Mediterranean Chameleon
Chamaeleo chamaeleon - Mediterranean Chameleon

Before our flight back, we had around 1.5 hours time to hike around close to the airport. We failed to find a second Chameleon, but we were able to take some pictures of Mediterranean Pond Turtles (Mauremys leprosa).


Mauremys leprosa - Mediterranean Pond Turtle
Mauremys leprosa - Mediterranean Pond Turtle
Mauremys leprosa - Mediterranean Pond Turtles
Mauremys leprosa - Mediterranean Pond Turtles
Master of camouflage: Gallinago gallinago - Common snipe
Master of camouflage: Gallinago gallinago - Common snipe

All in all it was a really nice trip!

- We skipped a coulpe of cold days in Germany

- We enjoyed beautiful beaches

- We saw some amazing herps (including many lifers)

All the good stuff mentioned, two Horseshoe Whip Snakes, escaped without a picture in a stone wall, several herp species not observed at all and some places missed due to the restrictions... many reasons to visit the Algarve again one day.

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