Tag Archives: reptiles

16 images showing the diversity of the Reptiles & Amphibians of Bulgaria

A pair of Eastern Green lizard both Male Female together photographed during the NaturesLens Reptiles Amphibians of Bulgaria Photography Holiday

Carl attended our inaugural trip to photograph the Reptiles & Amphibians of Bulgaria earlier this year & came back with some stunning shots.

Although frogs & snakes were the target species on this tour, there were opportunities to photograph mammals & wildflowers as well. Carl captured this super-cute image of a hedgehog during one of the night photography sessions.
There is no need for big lenses on this trip. A macro lens such as the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro USM is perfect & a tripod would also be useful. A wide-angle lens would also come in handy if you fancied capturing some landscapes or getting creative with your wildlife shots.
You will spend time looking for newts & frogs such as the Danube Crested Newt on the shores of the Danube River before heading into the Vitosha Mountain to capture images of high mountain species such as Slow Worm & Alpine Newt.
Our tour is designed to help you capture images of common species as well as rare species & species with a limited distribution such as this Krotschky’s Gecko.
Thanks to Carl for allowing us to share some of his beautiful images. See you again in October!
If you would like to photograph these stunning reptiles & amphibians, we still have a few places available on our 2020 trip. You can find the details here.

8 images of the fabulous Tree Frogs of Bulgaria

A European Tree Frog on a reed photographed during the NaturesLens Reptiles Amphibians of Bulgaria Photography Holiday

The European tree frog (Hyla Arborea) has to be one of the most adorable of all the Tree Frogs of Bulgaria & it is by far my favourite frog. Not only are they super cute & charismatic, but they also change colour! Depending on the temperature they can range from dark grey/brown through to the bright green & this change can happen surprisingly quickly too.

During early spring the frogs gather in breeding ponds or swamps where the males call to attract the females. The noise at these ponds is just incredible & almost deafening as these little frogs all call together. Once the breeding season has finished, they all disperse back across the areas.
We encountered this little frog in a few places, from near the Danube Delta down to the south near Kresna Gorge. They are the most easily recognisable of the frog species found in Bulgaria & the most fun to photograph be it during the day or at night.

6 species of snakes found in Bulgaria

A coiled Young Dice Snake photographed during the NaturesLens Reptiles Amphibians of Bulgaria Photography Holiday

During the 2019 Reptiles & Amphibians of Bulgaria Photography Holiday, of the 16, we found 6 species of snakes found in Bulgaria.

The Caspian Whip Snake (Dolichophis Caspius) can grow up to 200cm in length. They actively hunt their prey which includes small mammals, birds & reptiles & although usually a terrestrial species, they can climb up to around 7m in search of prey. During the tour, we didn’t find any significant adult individuals, only a young one which quite adorable.
Smooth Snakes (Cornonella Austriaca) grow up to around 70cm in length & feed mainly on lizards. However, they will feed on other snakes & even vipers securing their prey by constriction. They are ovoviviparous, meaning the embryos develop & hatch from the eggs within the female. Up to 9 juveniles are born in late August or September.
The Cat Snake (Telescopus fallax) can grow up to 100cm & are slender snakes with beautiful markings. They are almost entirely crepuscular or nocturnal & may be found climbing walls or rocky outcrops in search of lizards, with geckos being their primary prey. They are venomous but rarely bite.
Dice Snakes (Natrix Tessellata) grow up to 100cm but can be up to 130cm. They are both diurnal & nocturnal feeding mainly on fish. The female will lay between 5 to 37 eggs which will hatch out in August/September. Again we didn’t find an adult but found a couple of juveniles which certainly had the cute factor.
Eastern Montpellier Snakes (Malpolon Insignitus) grow up to 200cm & are a sturdy, formidable mostly diurnal thermophilous snake. They are a fast predator that actively hunts its prey, which consists of other reptiles, birds or mammals. They are venomous but rear-fanged. We only found a juvenile of this species, but they are far more beautiful with colourful markings along with their large eyes making them adorable.
The Nose-Horned Viper (Vipera Ammodytes) grows up to around 65cm & are easily recognisable due to the horn on the snout. They are diurnal & also crepuscular with adults feeding mainly on mammals or lizards with the juveniles feeding on arthropods. They are highly venomous with both neurotoxic & cytotoxic components. If disturbed, they will hiss but typically only bite if handled or stepped on.
Photographing snakes can be a challenge as they move fast & have very reflective eyes. But spending time watching them pays off & allows you to capture their beauty. If you are lucky, you can get the tongue flicker too. Snakes are a real favourite subject of mine & furthermore, very rewarding to photograph.

30 images of the diminutive Reptiles & Amphibians of Bulgaria

A Common Spadefoot Toad photographed in Bulgaria during the NaturesLens Reptiles Amphibians of Bulgaria photography holiday

For 2019, Reptiles & Amphibians of Bulgaria was a brand new trip that covers the western side of Bulgaria heading north for a few days before heading south for the rest of the trip. Bulgaria is a real wildlife hotspot thanks to its bio-geographical location. The main targets for this trip are some of 37 species of reptiles & 20 species of amphibians that can be found in Bulgaria. The trip was timed to coincide with many of these species coming out of hibernation & starting their breeding season. The trip allows the exploration of different habitats & territories from the Danube River in the North to the Bulgarian-Greek border in the south, from river banks to high mountain lakes & forests.

On arriving in Sofia, we headed north stopping at a couple of locations on the way to search for different species. Although we only found a young wall lizard, we did find a few scorpions under stones. Our first hotel for the night was in the Vratsata Gorge which had the most stunning views of the mountains. After a delicious dinner, we headed off to see if we could find anything around the area.
The next morning it was off to Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park, just a short scenic drive up into the mountains in search of newts & frogs at a pond. While Georgi was searching for amphibians, we took the opportunity to capture images of some of the numerous early wildflowers & even invertebrates that were on the plateau before photographing smooth & great crested newts in an aquarium.
After lunch, it was time to head further north up to the Danube river to spend the whole day & evening exploring the area. The first site we stopped at we were treated to European tree frogs calling & had the chance to see a few in & around the water. Sadly, there was no real opportunity to get decent images. We would return to this site later to set some newt traps in the hope of finding the Danube Crested Newt & other frogs & toads. In the meantime, we headed off to another site where we encountered a young Caspian whip snake & young dice snake along with Eastern green lizards & fire-bellied toads. With the light fading, it was time to head back to site one where it had started to rain. Just a light rain but it was enough to bring out the common spadefoot toads & European tree frogs. After a long but eventful day, it was time to head to the hotel for dinner & bed.
The next morning, we headed back to check the traps & to photograph the European tree frog & Spadefoot toad along with Danube Crested Newts that we found in the traps. Alongside photographing the different species, we had the opportunity to learn all about the habitats & the various amphibians & reptiles before releasing them back where we found them.
Post lunch it was time to hit the road making a couple of stops on the way to Sofia. That evening, there was the option to head out on a night walk to a pond up the hill from the hotel in search of fire salamanders, common frogs & common toads & we were not disappointed. There was a chance to do some more night photography on-site & then it was back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.
First stop was the pond from the night before where we found some more fire salamanders & frogs. We headed further up in the forest & had the chance to photograph a female fire salamander by a waterfall & to take some in wide-angle habitat shots. We had lunch back at the hotel before heading up to explore Vitosha mountain plateau, checking out hibernacula for adders & a breeding pond for frogs. Unfortunately, following a hard winter, much of the ground was still covered with snow! We decided to head down the mountain & got lucky finding a smooth snake & slow worm. After dinner, we headed back to the pond to set some newt traps, where we also found a baby salamander from last year, & then it was time for an early night!
After checking the traps, we hit the road. We made a couple of stops on the way to Kresna Gorge via Kyustendil close to Osogovo Mountain. One of these stops was a breeding pond where hundreds of alpine newts gather to breed every year. This gave us an excellent opportunity to photograph these beautiful newts in the aquarium. The next stop we finally found a couple of young sand lizards, one male & two females, & spent a fun couple of hours photographing them & some more wildflowers. As it was raining heavily, we opted for an early night in preparation for the next few days exploring Kresna Gorge & Sandanski areas.
On the road again & our first stop on the way to Kresna turned out to be quite a successful one. We found a female cat snake which after photographing, we measured & recorded all the details; a young & stunning Montpellier snake & both male & female wall lizards; & all in a lay-by off the main road! Post lunch we set off to explore the other side of the road in the warm sunshine, finding several Herman’s tortoises & a couple of swallowtail butterflies. Following the path round, we came across a praying mantis & finally found adult & young Greek Stream frogs which we had great fun photographing in the stream. The next few hours we spent photographing green toads, looking for lizards & frogs & setting up newt traps before heading back to the hotel.
We found both male & female Balkan crested newt & a couple of tree frogs in the newt traps so we spent some time photographing them before grabbing some lunch & heading off in search of snakes. Georgi found nose-horned vipers, along with a yellow-bellied toad & agile frog. Before heading for dinner, we set some more traps close to the Greek border.
After dinner, we headed to a thermal pool area which has a good population of Syrian spadefoot toads which we found a few of, along with some green toads, European tree frogs & hedgehogs which gave us the chance for some night photography.
Our last full day started with the usual checking of the newt traps, which came up empty. So, we went in search of lizards & anything else that we could find. Eventually, as the sun came out, we found both male & female Eastern wall lizards. It was great to see the sexual dimorphism between them.
We spent the afternoon back at the thermal pool photographing the Syrian spadefoot toads both in the open & as they buried themselves in the sand & searching for terrapins & had great fun trying to photograph them. Post lunch, & replenishing energy supplies, we headed off in search of snakes & lizards at another site but came up empty. However, did have the chance to photograph Lycosa tarantula (tarantula wolf spider).
After what has been an incredible trip with so many highlights, it was time to go home.
By the end of the trip, we had found & photographed 33 species of reptile & amphibian along with butterflies, spiders, grasshoppers, crickets & wildflowers. All in all, it was a hugely successful trip.

PHOTOGRAPH THE REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS OF BULGARIA YOURSELF

To photograph the Reptiles & Amphibians of Bulgaria yourself, join Victoria, in Sofia during April 2020 for a trip lasting seven nights. This photography holiday is ideal for taking photo opportunities with up to 20 species of amphibians & 37 species of reptiles!

The photography holiday is offered on a half board, non-shared basis. Group size for this photography holiday is a minimum of 3 participants & a maximum of 7, plus Victoria.
All the details of the Reptiles & Amphibians of Bulgaria photography holiday are available on the dedicated event page.