Reptiles and Amphibians in Bulgaria



Bulgaria is among the richest countries in Europe concerning its herpetofauna. The country is inhabited by 64 species known to date. The newts (Caudata) are 8, the identified frog species (Anura) are 15, the turtles species are 5, the lizards (Sauria) are 17 and the snakes (Serpentes) are 19 species. br>
The trip expeditions will be guided by Dr. Miroslav Slavchev (Miro). He possesses a special training in herpetology and a PhD academic degree in the field. Miroslav is speaking English and can orientate you in the names of the animals in German, Russian and of course in Latin.

The main focus of the trip is on documentation of reptiles and amphibians, but there will be many possibilities for macro photography in the sites we plan to visit.

Dates:
The trips will be performed in a defined time period from the beginning of April up to the beginning of May;

Group size:
2 – 4 photographers + guide;

 



Concerning the working regions we would like to concentrate our efforts on spots situated in Southwest Bulgaria. The Kresna gorge was formed by the Struma river, as the river sculpted 16 kilometer long gorgeous canyon. The area is characterized by typical transitional-Mediterranean climate, which is the reason for the great variety of plant and animal species typical for the Mediterranean region. The other highly suitable site is Rupite area. It is situated next to the smallest mountain in Bulgaria– Kozhuh mountain. The landscape is rather variable - open areas, rocky places, forests, sandy rocks, river valleys, plain areas etc. In both particular areas one can find half of the whole herpetofauna in Bulgaria. Some of the herpeto species are distributed only in this region of the country. Additionally, in the sites can be found some endemic plants and plenty of insects. The most suitable period for searching reptiles and amphibians is the spring, because the breeding activity for the most of the species coincides in this period.

The participants to the Herpetotrip 2017 can photograph the Balkan crested newt (Triturus ivanbureschi) and the Yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata) with special aquarium settings. Another interesting species that can be easily found is the Balkan stream frog (Rana graeca) - the species is widely distributed in this part of Bulgaria.

In South-West Bulgaria are distributed two species of tortoises – Hermann’s and Spur-thighed (Testudo hermanni and Testudo graeca). Both of them are in the list of protected species by Natura 2000. During the trip can be found the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) and the Western Caspian turtle (Mauremys rivulata)

The Cat snake (Telescopus fallax), the Kotschy’s gecko (Mediodactylus kotschyi), the Eastern spadefoot toad (Pelobates syriacus) and the Tree frog (Hyla orientalis) could be found in the evening. Special attention will be paid on finding the Leopard snake (Zamenis situla) - the most beautiful snake in Bulgaria and one of the rarest snakes in Europe. However, in the evenings, the participants will have the possibility to perform observation and documentation of the nocturnal activities of the species.

During the day we will search for the Dahl's whip snake (Platyceps najadum). This is an elegant, gentle and non-aggressive creature. In the same areas we may also find the Four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata) (massive but relatively calm snake) and the Montpellier snake (Malpolon insignitus).

In the evenings, we will have time to further look through the materials, discuss the work that we have done during the day and discuss the plan for the next day.

The hotel is situated next to a small river and surrounded by trees. To reach the hotel you have to calculate 2 hours driving from Sofia Airport. For transportation we will use a comfortable and reliable car. Almost all of the spots are accessible by car, but of course for finding the animals, the participants may need to do some moderate walking (maximum 600m in a particular direction). All the sites we plan to visit are situated not far from the hotel. The daily car travels will be short - from 15 min. up to 1 hour. Hence, less time will be spend for travel, but more opportunities for photography will be identified.

The actual photography shooting will be performed mainly in the field. In a case of bad weather conditions we can set aquariums (or/and terrariums) in the hotel and use it for the documentaries. In these devices can be photographed lizards, newts, frogs and toads. After the sessions, the animals will be released at the same spots where they were collected – no damages will be inflicted to the animals!!!

In Bulgaria, the weather conditions in April are very dynamic. We can expect temperatures in a diapason between 8˚C up to 26˚C. Spring rains are also possible.

There is an option to extend the trips with several days. For more info you can write directly to Miro: slmiro@abv.bg