The biodiversity of the Slovak Carpathians is incredible. The Great White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) is an annual visitor, and many villages even provide large nesting poles for them in order to prevent them nesting on chimneys. Because they are a protected species, these massive birds have no fear of humans and can often be quite a nuisance. They are ingrained in the local mythology, though, and one famous belief is that if a woman sees her first stork of the year in a nest rather than flying or walking, then she will become pregnant.
My garden alone has numerous species of snakes, lizards and amphibians –
Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis)
Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca)
European Viper, the Adder, (Vipera berus)
Grass Snake (Natrix natrix)
Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis)
Common Lizard (Lacerta vivipara)
Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra)
Although I have personally witnessed the changing of the biotype over the last two decades. Years back when it rained the garden would be alive with fire salamanders, now I rarely see any – but we did have a large fat one the other day, presumably a pregnant female, which is good. Slow worms (legless lizards) used to regularly cross the lawn, many living in the compost heap, but nowadays even they are becoming a rarity. Both of these species feed on slugs and snails and as they have begun to disappear we have become infested with vegetation-eating slugs.
The most common snakes we would regularly encounter in the garden (even in the house on occasion, which is scary) are the adder, which is venomous, and its predator, the smooth snake, which is non venomous but has very similar markings. Last year I only saw a couple of stork-dropped dead adders and no smooth snakes. They had been replaced by the grass snake, which I would previously only ever encounter in pastures. There has been a clear and definite change to the biotype as well as the seasons – particularly in when they start and end, and we are getting far more common British species of birds, animals and reptiles than previously.
There is definite climate change going on, but there are many possible reasons for its cause – something I will cover in a later video. East Slovakia traditionally had extremely cold winters and extremely hot summers (annual temperature range from -30 C to +40 C), but in the last few years it has become much milder – -20 C to +30 C – and with much more rainfall.
Filmed with a Panasonic Lumix FZ300/FZ330 with a Polaroid UV lens