Monday, 17 October 2016

Plants and Animals

As usual when we are on our travels, I managed to ad a few new 'ticks' to my life lists whilst in Croatia. Several new plant species have been added, including a strange member of the Campanula family. Part of the Campanula pyramidalis complex, Campanula austroadriatica is a newly named species - and a rather beautiful one too.
Among the more exciting discoveries was new (to me) orchid species. This was found growing in waste land beside the many footpaths we walked along and was not immediately obvious as being n orchid at all. Closer inspection revealed it to be Spiranthes spiralis more commonly called Autumn Ladies Tresses.
At only 6 inches tall, it was in no way an imposing plant, but the small, white flowers, which grow in a loose spiral formation up the stem, were delightful.
Another tiny flower found all over the place was that belonging to the Annual Gypsophila (Gypsophila muralis).
Lastly for the flower list was a bright blue flower found dotted among the roadside vegetation. This turned out to be Forking Larkspur (Consolida regalis).
Moving away from plants, we also found a few new 'ticks' on the reptile life list. (Malcolm's mum, look away now!)
By far the largest of the reptiles we found, was one which goes by the name of Sheltopusik or Pallas' Glass Lizard (Pseudopus apodus). This large, European legless lizard can grow to more than 4ft long and was quite startling to come across while standing one day, taking in the views. At first sight I thought it was a snake, but having taken its photo and studied it more closely, the eye gave it away as being a lizard. This specimen was a little over 2ft long and a very impressive sight.
We also came across a couple of small snakes on our walks around Plat. This one was particularly well marked with silver and black as we came across it on the road down to the sea. Only very small, it probably measured not much more than a foot long and turned out to be a juvenile, Four-lined Rat Snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata.) Native to the Balkans and Italy, it is becoming increasingly rare and is now on the Red List of threatened species, so we were lucky to find this one.
Finally for today, a fish which we found swimming among many other species in the harbour at Cavtat. This long, slender creature was a Garfish (Belone belone.)
Sometimes called Needle Fish for obvious reasons, they are predatory fish, feeding on other smaller fish species although this particular youngster was more interested in the small piece of bread it had found floating on the surface.
Not finished yet... more to come!
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