Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Samokov Herping 2017

 Today I went to Samokov to repair my bicycle that I haven't used for about two years. The bike looked terrible, all dusty and warped in spider webs, but after the man I took it to finished repairing it, it actually started looking like a suitable vehicle. So, while waiting for the bus, I decided to go on a little herping trip at the Iskar river. Loads of Wall lizards, as always, but I also managed to catch a young male Grass snake, the first snake I've caught in my home region this year.

 After I was done herping, I thought it would be very nice to just ride my bike around the city, listening to music on my headphones (I bring them literally everywhere). I felt so good and free, I didn't feel like taking the bus to my village, but ride my bike through the fields instead. It was a long trip, maybe 30-40 minutes or so, I can't remember, I lost track of time.
 While I was pedaling my way to the village, I got the opportunity to do a little on-road birdwatching. Common buzzard, White stork, Common kestrel and Common raven are some of the more interesting species I stumbled upon.

Was nearly home when this guy showed up. He got pretty angry and growled when I started taking pictures. The little bugger was in the middle of the road, so I had to move him aside.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

March Update: South Park Herping

 Spring has officially begun, and so has the mating season for most animals, which means the time for herping has come. So today, I'll show you guys everything I've seen so far in the month of March.

Agile frog (Rana dalmatina). Saw this one in my backyard while eating breakfast.
Isn't it a beauty?

As I said, mating season has started for many species. Butterflies are no exeption.

 I spent the first weekend of March in Gotse Delchev, southern Bulgaria, staying at my cousin's house. Not much went on then, except that the weather was a lot warmer there, meaning that the reptiles had already awakened from their winter hibernation. Loads of Wall lizards where darting around on the walls on both sides of the nearby river. In one of the cracks of that wall I found a dead Great Tit, which at first I assumed suffocated in the wall, but then it all became clear - a young adult male Caspian Whipsnake had captured and killed it. As soon as I moved the bird aside, the snake hissed and slithered further underground before I could even catch it. So, yeah... sorry guys, no photos of it, yay!

 On the 24th of March, I traveled to Sofia to help some friends with a garden they where working on. After the work was done, I headed for the park in southern Sofia, called the South Park. It's a pretty popular place, and some cool animals could be seen there, too. Last September me and Dylan Alfrey went there herping and found some beautiful Grass and Dice snakes, as well as European pond turtles and some Red-eared Sliders. So, after the garden work was done, I decided to visit it once again.

The stunningly beautiful ponds in the southern part of  South Park. Here I find most interesting animals I see in Sofia.

Some ducks are swimming in the ponds as well, alongside the snakes and turtles. There's also a ton of fish and crayfish.

Some more landscape shots.

A dead duck, probably killed by a dog. A sad sight, indeed, but it cannot be helped in the park, where dogs interact with wild animals.

And here's my first snake of the year. It's a totally ordinary Grass snake, but it still was a cool find.

Challenge for all of my fellow herpers: Try to find a snake while listening to music. It's A LOT harder than it sounds. :P
Red-eared Slider. They aren't native to Bulgaria, but a lot of irresponsible pet owners release them in the wild, resulting in them creating a fairly stable population.

Some more shots of the same individual.

 Now, time for some videos! ;P Sorry for the awful quallity, but the Grass snake wraped itself around my phone earlier and covered my camera with mud.