Crete, 15th to 22nd of April 2006

Lasse Bergendorf and Tommi Sandberg spent a week in the Greek island Crete in april 2006. The weather was sunny with temperatures around 20-25°C most of the week. Quite wonderful! We stayed at an apartment hotel in Rethymnon at the northern coast.

The main purpose with the trip was the herpetofauna, especially the endemic Cretan Water Frog (Pelophylax cretensis) (formerly known as Rana cretensis).

Some sites that we visited:
Kourna Lake (south of Georgioupolis): The only natural freshwater lake in Crete with lots of waterfrogs and terrapins. Also good for Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilieata) and Cretan Wall Lizard (Podarcis cretensis) in the surroundings. We visited the lake three times. Two of those in darkness, recording and photographing waterfrogs. We also heard Barn Owl and Scops Owl.

Kourna Lake, © Lars Bergendorf Pelophylax cretensis, © Lars Bergendorf
Maremys rivulata, © Lars Bergendorf Amplexus pair of Pelophylax cretensis, © Lars Bergendorf

Agia reservoir (a little dam south of Chania): A huge concert of Tree Frogs (Hyla arborea) even in daylight!

Agia dam, © Lars Bergendorf Tommi herphunting, © Lars Bergendorf

Lassithi Plateau (south-east of Heraklion): A very nice site at 800 meters hight. Lots of channels with Green Toads (Epidalea viridis) and Waterfrogs (Pelophylax cretensis).

Lassithi Plateau, © Lars Bergendorf Lasse at Lassithi Plateau, © Lars Bergendorf

Omalos Plateau (1200 m plateau south of Chania): Not for Herptiles but with impressive landscape scenery with the well known Samaria Gorge and vultures in the sky.

Podarcis cretensis, © Lars Bergendorf Tommi celebrating a new species, © Lars Bergendorf

List of species:

Epidalea viridis
Many heard and seen in the channels at the Lassithi Plateau.

Hyla arborea
Heard at some places, especially at Petres river and Agia reservoir, where we also found one in a little tree in a restaurant garden. Strange that none were heard in Kourna Lake?

Pelophylax cretensis
Heard at Lassithi and Anapodaris river at the south coast. In Petres river near Koufi we also found an amplexus pair. The best site was the north side of Kourna Lake though, with massive choirs starting at sunset.

Mauremys rivulata
At most places with water as Agai and Petres river. In Kourna Lake very unshy and presumably used to people. It was like they expected us to feed them.

Tarentola mauritanica
Two at Knossos which where the only geckos we found during the week. We found none at the house walls in Rethymnon which was a little bit surprising.

Lacerta trilineata
At most places in different ages. Very common.

Podarcis cretensis
Most at Petres and Kourna and in roadssides outside the villages. Many with beautiful green patterns on the back and blue undersides.

Natrix tessellata
Only one in Kourna Lake hunting for fish. The only snake we found.

Trachemys scripta
A young specimen basking in the sun at Kourna Lake.

As usual we missed the Leopard Snake! The other species that can be found in Crete are Turkish and Kotschy's Gecko, Ocellated Skink, Balkan Whip Snake, Cat Snake and maybe Mediterranean Chameleon.

Crete is a very nice island and together with the very nice weather, nice people and splendid food, our week was very pleasant!

26/4 2006 / Lars Bergendorf

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