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  • Writer's pictureLacerta Bilineata

Western Green Lizard Central

The western green lizard (Lacerta bilineata) in the gallery below is one of three adult males I encountered throughout May 2021 that apparently share the same territory, an area covering a few hundred square meters that also includes my garden, the narrow road just below and parts of a horse pasture on the other side from that road. At the center of the lizards' considerable kingdom grows a young oak tree which is almost completely overgrown by different types of shrub. The one shrub dominating everything else and covering most of the other bushes and half of the oak tree with a thick carpet of lush green leaves is a beautiful fly honeysuckle whose blossoms attract a wide array of different insects.

I knew that "my" western greens liked that bush, but this year I was surprised to find that pretty much the whole Lacerta bilineata population seems to have relocated there. It's become "Western Green Central", so to speak, and the lizards spend large stretches of the day in that bush. It's just across from my pergola on the other side of the road, and I can easily observe my reptilian neighbors from a short distance without disturbing them. The females, of which I counted at least four adults, rarely seem to leave that fly honeysuckle at all; each one of them inhabits a different stretch of the bush, and at least from what I've seen they remain within their fairly small "sections" of shrub without crossing the "borders" to the other ladies' territories, though the largest female does occasionally visit the ground (I'm sure the others do too, I just haven't seen them do it yet).

The three males climb around in the whole bush; they seem to "travel" back and forth between the different females, but never at the same time. They clearly try to avoid each other and pick different times of the day to be in the fly honeysuckle. There's also several youngsters that I believe hatched only last summer/autumn; I could tell apart at least two individuals (because one has a very distinct deformed scale on its head), though I believe there's at least half a dozen who are just hard to distinguish because they haven't developed any discernible color patterns yet (they're mostly just brown with yellowish green bellies and throats).

It obviously makes sense that "my" lizards colonized that bush; the fly honeysuckle provides them with excellent cover (especially the youngsters and the females blend in so perfectly with its leaves they become virtually invisible); it offers safety from predators that hunt lizards mainly on the ground like cats or green whip snakes, and, perhaps most importantly, there's an abundance of food (even when it isn't blossoming the bush is visited and inhabited by all kinds of spiders, snails and insects, particularly by flies).

So most of the photos I was able to take this year were either from animals in that bush or were taken on the ground right next to it. This beautiful male enjoying the morning sun on the leaves of the fly honeysuckle is now the first I'll share here. These were also some of the first photos I was able to shoot of Lacerta bilineata with my new camera (for the nerds among you: it's a Sony DSC RX10 MIV, and I'm very happy with it).

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