Field Report, September 19th to October 19th 2011- Mallorca & Menorca, Spain

by Frank Deschandol

All pictures © Frank Deschandol & Philippe Sabine


To continue the great herping in the spanish Mediterranean islands this year, I went to the Balearic for one month. About 15 days were spent on Menorca and then, 15 days on Mallorca. My main goal was to see the famous endemic species of both islands, of course, but including most subspecies of Podarcis lilfordi which lives on several small islets not so far from the coast. I didn't get enough time to visit Cabrera ; perhaps this will be done in a next trip.

To be completely self-sufficient on the place, I took my own car and a Mojito RTM, a small kayak which allowed me to reach each and every islet according to a suitable weather [= without too much wind = quite difficult]. In the end a fantastic experience, kayaking in the turquoise sea, snorkeling and finding some amazing isolated habitats for lizards. Probably my most exciting trip ever.

Nevertheless, it turned out to be very difficult to find all the snakes during a large part of this trip and I couldn't find any the first whole week. But stubborn, by lifting more than 1.200 stones (only for Menorca), I managed at last to find a few animals. The hot weather still sufferred in September-October - about 25-30°c - shouldn't be a bad argument for this relative lack of snakes : the very last day, when back on Menorca, temperature became much colder, especially in the night - about 10°c - and I could find 2 Macroprotodon within 2 hours.

But moreover, I lost a lot of time in hospitals, exhausted all along the trip by a very strong dental infection. Then, pain and tiredness piling up, I was a little bit lazy on Mallorca, focusing almost exclusively on Alytes muletensis and the Podarcis lilfordi subspecies.

Even if some species were impossible to find on Mallorca nor Menorca, I managed to find all species from both islands, except one : Testudo graeca graeca. But I didn't spend much time to look for as it's easier to find on mainland Spain.

NOTA BENE : To illustrate the variety and/or the behavior of specimens from each population of P. lilfordi, a huge number of my best pictures are presented on purpose in this report.

Many thanks to Bobby Bok, Marten Van Den Berg, Jeroen Speybroeck, Mike Zawadzki, Matt Wilson, Jean-Marc Moingeon, Alex Sala Gorön, The Marineland Zoo of Palma : Gloria Fernandez and Miguel Cantallops and the naturalist Félix de Pablo, met on Illa de l'Aire, who saved me a lot of efforts by bringing me back with his zodiac during a stormy sea day :)


The Balearic islands of Mallorca and Menorca



Podarcis lilfordi : visited islands (not in chronological order)


N.B : I specify the tendency of how shy are the Podarcis population on each island, please note it's only a personal feeling and at a given time/weather...


1 - Illa Del Rei, Podarcis lilfordi balearicus

Island very easy to reach by kayak. Lizards : shy.


2 - Illa de l'Aire, Podarcis lilfordi lilfordi

Island quite difficult to reach by kayak (1 km from the coast), often windy there. Lizards : very tame with patience, very high density.


3a - Escull de Binicodrell (Big), Podarcis lilfordi codrellensis

Island very easy to reach, even without kayak. Lizards : shy.

Escull de Binicodrell


3b - Escull de Binicodrell (Small), Podarcis lilfordi codrellensis

Same, low density.


4 - Illa Dels Porros (= De Sanitja), Podarcis lilfordi fenni

Island difficult to reach by kayak, far away, need a calm sea to come. Lizards : most are very shy, staying in bushes or under stones, difficult to make good pictures there. I've been 2 times on that island as it became rainy and windy on my first attempt. Also Hemidactylus turcicus and Tarentola mauritanica here.


5 - Illa De Ses Sargantanes, Podarcis lilfordi sargantanae

Island easy to reach by kayak. Lizards : quite shy.



6 - Illa d'Es Porros, Podarcis lilfordi porrosicola

Island easy to reach by kayak. Lizards : quite shy, hidden.


7a - Illetes Des Carbó (Big), Podarcis lilfordi carbonerae

Island easy to reach by kayak. Lizards : not very shy but always moving, not easy to photograph.

Middleground, right : Illetes Des Carbó. Illa Petita and Gran d'Addaia at background


7b - Illetes Des Carbó (Small), Podarcis lilfordi carbonerae

Same but very few specimens live there. A juvenile was spotted.


Illot d'En Carbonet : I took a quick look there but I was unable to find any lizard. They are probably missing.


8 - Illa Gran d'Addaia, Podarcis lilfordi addayae

Island easy to reach by kayak. Lizards : not shy.


Lizard eating flowers and...

...lizard which ate flowers !

Hemidactylus turcicus spinalis endemic subspecies from Illa Gran d'Addaia



9 - Illa De Ses Mones, Podarcis lilfordi ssp. (undescribed subspecies)

Island very easy to reach on foot, without kayak. Lizards : very shy, only 3 specimens seen by luck in 2h, always hidden and too much vegetation on this island. Low density (?).


10 - Illa d'En Colom, Podarcis lilfordi brauni

Island easy to reach by kayak. Lizards : quite shy at a first look.


At Menorca, I also switched Illot d'En Mel, (Podarcis lilfordi of undescribed subspecies) this island being into a Natural Reserve, it's forbidden to go there without authorization.

Illot d'En Mel, Albufera de Grau (UNESCO World Heritage site)


Other species found on Menorca :

Scelarcis perspicillata from Cap d'Artrutx

Podarcis siculus siculus from Barranc de Binigaus, always very shy...

Other, young from Cala Tirant

Tarentola mauritanica from Cala Tirant, abundant everywhere

Hemidactylus turcicus turcicus young from Cap d'Artrutx

Other, baby from Lithica

Other, adult from Lithica

Testudo hermanni hermanni, baby from Turo Amagat

Others babies from Lithica

Other, adult from Cala Tirant


Other, adult from Turo Amagat

Other, adult from Turo Amagat

The only turtle caugh with my trap during the night, a very large and agressive Trachemys scripta elegans from Vall d'Agaiarens... Emys orbicularis was also seen at this place.

Natrix maura, young from Torrent des Mercadel

Rhinechis scalaris from Pla de s'Alzinar

Other from Turo Amagat

Other weak and skinny adult from Pla de s'Alzinar, found under a big stone. Found once again under the same stone 15 days later, still alive...

Macroprotodon cucullatus, young from Pla de s'Alzinar

Other, adult from Torrent des Mercadel


Other, adult from Cala Tirant

Hyla meridionalis from Cala Tirant

Euscorpius balearicus

Hyles dahlii larva L5

Atelerix algirus eating a dead Bubulcus ibis




Podarcis lilfordi : visited islands (not in chronological order)


1 - Illa De Sa Porrassa, Podarcis lilfordi fahrae (introd. population from Cabrera)

Island easy to reach by kayak. Lizards : shy and always hidden under bushes, discreet. Very difficult to make pictures. Low density. Also Tarentola mauritanica here.


2 - Illa Del Toro, Podarcis lilfordi toronis

Probably the most difficult island to reach by kayak... and the most difficult P. lilfordi to photograph ever : lizards are extremely shy, all the time hidden under bushes, even for basking, low density. I spent 7 hours on this island to get only a few pictures.

But there, I spotted too briefly an awesome Tarentola mauritanica of fluo yellow-orange color. Surely an albino specimen but unfortunately the animal disappeared quickly into a hole and was impossible to see afterwards !

Steep island...


3a - Illa Des Conills, Podarcis lilfordi hartmanni

Island easy to reach by kayak. Lizards : not shy.

Illa Es Malgrat (left) and Illa Des Conills (right)


3b - Illa Es Malgrat, South-West part, Podarcis lilfordi hartmanni

Island easy to reach by kayak. Lizards : shy, staying hidden.

Another steep island


3c - Illa Es Malgrat, North-East part (population almost isolated from the main island), Podarcis lilfordi hartmanni



4 - Illa Sa Dragonera, Podarcis lilfordi giglioli

The only island reached by boat. But it's possible to go there with a kayak on calm days without problem. Lizards : very tame, very high density but not everywhere.


5 - Part of the habour of Colònia Sant Jordi (not an island), Could be a mixed population between P. l. jordansi and P. l. kuligae ( Zawadzki Mike, Die Eidechse, Jg. 21, H. 2, S. 43-52, Bonn, 20. August 2010)

Lizards : extremely shy.




6 - Illa Na Guardis, Podarcis lilfordi jordansi

Island easy to reach by Kayak. Lizards : quite shy but tame with patience, often hidden under bushes. High density.

I met there some spanish biologists studying the population of P. lilfordi.

Marked specimen

Biologists about to go


7 - Illa Na Moltona, Podarcis lilfordi jordansi

Island easy to reach by kayak on calm days. Lizards : not very shy, often basking in open areas. High density.


8 - Illa Na Pelada, Podarcis lilfordi jordansi

Island easy to reach by kayak on calm days. Lizards : very shy and hard to photograph, taking quickly refuge into crevices. Low density.

Illa Na Pelada (left) as seen from Illa Na Moltona ; note Cabrera's coast far away


Love saliva...


9 - Illot d'En Curt, Podarcis lilfordi jordansi

Island easy to reach by kayak on calm days, but long way, I've done > 10 km kayaking to go there. But probably a possibility to go on foot without kayak. Lizards : not shy, easy to photograph.


Illa El Colomer, Podarcis lilfordi colomi : Not tried to reach this one, impossible by kayak and a very steep island...

Illa El Colomer...


Other species found on Mallorca :

Podarcis pityusensis pityusensis from Ses Illetes beach, surprisingly enough : very shy !






Hemidactylus turcicus turcicus from Santa Ponsa, species only common on the coast of Mallorca

Macroprotodon cucullatus baby from Cabo Blanco

Pelophylax perezi from Cuber lake

Bufo viridis balearicus from Mortitx

Alytes muletensis... Very difficult to find. Several known sites were visited, but all was dry everywhere after 3 months without any rain. The few downpours received during one night didn't help. I found only some tadpoles of that species in a water trough along with a single juvenile.

The beautiful Tramuntana mountains

Then I decided to make pictures of adults at the Marineland zoo of Palma, which breed that species for reintroduction. Unlike in the wild, the Alytes were calling (inside the cage) and a few males still carried some eggs.

Alytes muletensis




The last day at Port Adriano (Mallorca)

My mounting at Cap de Cavalleria (Menorca)



Reptiles (13) :

Testudo hermanni hermanni
Trachemys scripta elegans
Trachemys (scripta ssp. ?)
Caretta caretta (Marineland)
Emys orbicularis (ssp. ?)
Tarentola mauritanica

Hemidactylus turcicus turcicus
Hemidactylus turcicus spinalis
Scelarcis perspicillata
Podarcis pityusensis pityusensis
Podarcis siculus siculus
Podarcis lilfordi lilfordi
Podarcis lilfordi addayae
Podarcis lilfordi balearicus
Podarcis lilfordi brauni
Podarcis lilfordi carbonerae
Podarcis lilfordi codrellensis
Podarcis lilfordi fahrae
Podarcis lilfordi fenni
Podarcis lilfordi giglioli
Podarcis lilfordi hartmanni
Podarcis lilfordi jordansi
Podarcis lilfordi kuligae
Podarcis lilfordi porrosicola
Podarcis lilfordi sargantanae
Podarcis lilfordi toronis
Podarcis lilfordi (undescribed ssp.)
Natrix maura

Rhinechis scalaris
Macroprotodon cucullatus


Amphibians (4) :

Pelophylax perezi
Alytes muletensis
Bufo viridis balearicus
Hyla meridionalis

Total : 17 spp.