Greece 1998

This trip was mainly a bird watching trip but some days we spent a lot of time searching for herpetofauna. We were four Swedes that took the plane from Arlanda, Stockholm on the 25/4 1998 to Athens, Greece. During the trip we had arranged to meet Anders Selmer and his wife, who where travelling by them selves, during three days. We packed our hired car at the airport and drove directly north. The weather was cloudy and around 12 degrees C. We reached the cost east of mount Olympia when it became dark and spent the night at a camping.

The next morning 26/4 gave nice weather and we spent the morning bird watching by the lagoons along the coast. Here we found several Hermann's Tortoise (Eurotestudo hermanni) and Balkan Wall Lizard (Podarcis tauricus). The rest of the day we drove north for Alexandropoulos with several stops for bird watching. At the camping in Alexandropoulos we met with the Selmer family.

27/4 we started with the Evros delta witch gave good bird watching, Marsh Frog (Pelophylax ridibundus) and Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca). We returned to Alexandropoulos and drove north along the river for the Dadia forest. At the first cliff of the rising mountains we stopped by the river and walked searched the riversides. Here were several green Marsh Frogs (Pelophylax ridibundus) and suddenly we found a small viper lying in the sand. It was an Ottoman Viper (Montivipera xanthina). Here at its westernmost distribution. We continued up to the Dadia forest witch is one of the best areas to se raptors in Europe and also one very good site for seeing herpetofauna. We never went far from the road and mostly walked along the small creeks searching for species. Here we saw Yellow Bellied Toad (Bombina variegata), Common Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris), European pond terrapin (Emys orbicularis), Balkan Terrapin (Mauremys rivulata), Erhard's Wall Lizard (Podarcis erhardii), Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata), Green Lizard (Lacerta viridis), Common Toad (Bufo bufo), Common Tree Frog (Hyla arborea), Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata), Eastern Montpellier Snake (Malpolon insignitus) and Large Whip Snake (Dolichophis caspius). The most exiting was the European Glass Lizard (Pseudopus apodus) we found dead, driven over just one minute before we arrived! We stayed at the excellent WWF guesthouse in the village, Green Toad (Epidalea viridis) was found everywhere.

The next day (28/4) we spent in the park and stayed another night before continuing back southwest (29/4). That day and the next (30/4) were mainly concentrated on bird watching and we met the Selmer couple again on the evening the 30/4 on the road up the east side of Mount Olympus.

Almost the whole next day we climbed the slope up to the snow and back again. We said good buy to Anders and his wife and spent the night at a hotel west of mount Olympus.

Early in the morning (31/4) we continued our trip for Meteora in the mountains south west of Olympus. Meteora is a beautiful site with dramatic cliffs shaped as cylinders and with several monasteries hanging like bird nests on the cliffs. We stayed two nights at the camping in the village. The first evening gave bad weather but then it became better. When doing excursions in the hills above the village we found an adult Marginated Tortoise (Testudo marginata) resting under an olive tree. The site gave several orchids and some good bird watching too.

View from Meteora © Per Blomberg

The 2d of May we drove east up in the Pindus Mountain to a small village where we stayed two nights on a nice pension. The weather was not good with rain and partly heavy fog. During a hike in the amazing Vikos George we managed to see a beautiful Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra) crawling on the path in the rain. They are very difficult to find when it is dry. The area is very interesting and with better weather we should probably stayed longer.

On the 4th of May we drove down to the Adriatic coast and continued for Delphi where we spent one night. The next day gave some cold walking in the mountains before we headed for Athens and the Somoi peninsula. We did not see more herpetofauna due to bad weather and took the plane back to Sweden the 6th of May.

/Per Blomberg

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