• Kevin Esser

Yellow-bellied beauty

Not every human influence on nature is harmful. Stone walls, quarries, artificial waters and some others can be the habitat for many animals. Just like this abandoned clay pit in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Here you can find something that has unfortunately become much too rare in Germany: flat and fish-free ponds.


Rare amphibians such as the Yellow-bellied Toad depend on habitats like that.

The open, sunny areas are also the perfect place for reptiles.


When I visited this place for the first time, I was amazed by this view. Really nice landscape.




The big, blue pond is the eyecatcher for sure, but the small and warmer ponds are the right place to search for the Yellow-bellied Toad (Bombina variegata). They messure about 4 cm (1,57 inch) and are well camouflaged.



Fortunately, I found the first toads after a few minutes. It was a warm, sunny day and they were very active.

Bombina  variegata - Yellow-bellied Toad

Some Pool Frogs (Pelophylax lessonae) enjoyed the sunshine as well. They got used to my presence and were not shy at all.

Pelophylax lessonae - Pool Frogs

Bombina  variegata - Yellow-bellied Toad

Apart from the coloration of the belly, Bombina variegata scores with additional characteristics. They are very appealing as they always seem to smile...

Bombina  variegata - Yellow-bellied Toad

...and the heart-shaped pupil is a really cool feature too. You just have to love the yellow-bellied toad!

Bombina  variegata - Yellow-bellied Toad

A pretty Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) was hunting in one of the ponds.

Natrix natrix - Grass Snake

Natrix natrix - Grass Snake

I spent some hours in this habitat, most of the time lying on my belly to get this low angle and to almost drown my camera.

Bombina  variegata - Yellow-bellied Toad

Some Sand Lizards (Lacerta agilis), basking near the ponds, completed this nice day trip.

Lacerta agilis - Sand Lizard