Thursday, 21 June 2018

European Road Trip Day 20- Kaunertal Glacier

An epic end to our road trip with a drive up to 2750m to the Kaunertal Glacier. A fascinating transition from bare snow covered rock to rich species rich wildflower meadows as we descended.

Lots of interesting plants- made a start on identifying some here- provisional ids- please step in if any the wiser. 

Alpine Choughs, Snowfinches ,Water Pipits and Alpine Marmots were at the top. 

View over the Italian Alps from top of the cable car at 3100m. 
Around 2500 meters- Marmot country 
Around 2000m 
Around 1500 meters 

Alpine Marmot ('Groundhog') 

A few plants in altitude descending order 

Mountain Sorrel
Cabbage Thistle 
Bladder Gentian 
Alpine Saxifrage


Lesser Butterfly Orchid 
Meadow Crane's-bill 
Ragged Robin- dominated in the wet patches of the meadows 
Alpine Catchfly 
A tall wildflower meadow: Meadow Clary, Star of Bethlehem, Yarrow, Mountain Clover, Sanfoin, Oxeye Daisy, Red Clover, Great Burney etc
A lower carpet of wildflowers, Yellow Eattle, Buttercup sp, Cornflower, Rock Rose, Red Clover, Mountain Clover, Yarrow, Hoary Plantian, Oxeye Daisy etc 
Carthusian Pink 
Viola sp 
Cotton Grass
Grass of Parnassus

Common Twayblade
False Heath Fritillary 

Sunday, 17 June 2018

European Road Trip Day 19- Apollo Butterfly in the Alps

So after setting fire to itself last week our VW T5 campervan has decided to play up again today with the engine emission warning light coming on which scuppered our plans to try an ascent to a 3500m nearby glacier by road. As it was a Sunday it wasn't possible to get the problem sorted either so we were left hanging around Prutz. 

Nonetheless it turned into a great day, firstly because Jacob walked today for the first time- did at least six or seven steps and secondly because I found an Apollo Butterfly in the hills just up from our campsite. 

Once again a few provisional ids- please step in with corrections especially the Fritillaries! 

 View over Prutz from adjacent slope
 Northern Wall Brown- smaller than Large Wall Brown with distinctive irregular transverse discal and basal and discal lines in upperwing 
 Closest I can get on this one is Knapweed Fritillary (above and below) of the Southern Alps alternans form with a lack of post discal spots (more of a Mellicta upperwing pattern) and a distinctive row of post discal orange spots on the hind underwing. Also a broken mid line in the discal band and no contrast in the sub-margin and outer margin. 

 This one looks good for High Brown Fritillary with large discal spots on upperwing and distinctive white-pupiled, reddish-brown post discal spots on underwing and white pearls on sub-margin of underwing

 The small size contrast between the yellowish margin and paler sub-margin lunules, combined with the reddish post-discal band suggests either a female Nickerl's or Assman's Fritillary
 Arran Brown- the distinctive under hind-wing markings makes this relatively easy to identify  
 Lulworth Skipper - hopefully that black line in the upper forewing excludes all other similar looking skippers in the region 
 Clouded Apollo 
 Apollo- the only shot I could get as it was mainly flying round. I actually heard the sound of its wing as it took off! Was hoping to sneak this in on this trip.
Five-spot Burnet type 
 Our third camp site of the trip- not a particularly great site but certainly in a great location 
View over Prutz. If the van holds up will be heading down that valley in the background tomorrow. 

Saturday, 16 June 2018

European Road Trip Days 17 and 18 - The Austrian Alps, Tirol

Based in Prutz at the moment in the Tirol region of the Austrian Alps. Golden Eagle, Nutcrackers, Honey Buzzard, Crested Tits, Crossbills, Hawfinches and Crag Martins on the bird front but with most of the action being with the butterflies and botany. 

Here's a few pictures and provisional ids. Corrections as always welcome. 

View from the visitor's centre viewing platform 
 Large Yellow Foxglove
 Fragrant Orchid 
 Early Purple Orchid 
 Marsh Orchid sp
 Burnt-tip Orchid 
 Meadow Clary
 Bistort sp?

 Scarce Copper 
 Pearl Bordered Fritillary (above and below) 

 Mellicta sp maybe Nickerl's or Assman's Fritillary (above and below) 

 Close I can get with these is False Heath Fritillary (above and two below)  

Cranberry Blue- the orange spot with black framed silver blue attached spot is distinctive 
Dingy Skipper 
 Chimney Sweeper 
Transparent Burnet 
View down towards Prutz