|Papaver alpinum subsp. ernesti-mayeri - endemic subspecies of the Julian Alps, named after the botanist Ernest Mayer and inhabiting rocky screes. Interestingly a disjuncted population is also found in Abruzzo (central Italy).|
|Phyteuma sieberi - first collected in Slovenia on mount Ljubelj (locus typicus) by F.W. Sieber in the 19th century. This is the only truly alti-montane species from the genus Phyteuma in Slovenia and it's also a rock-crevice dweller.|
|Saussurea pygmaea - quite common on the alpine grasslands of Mangart.|
|Potentilla nitida - the charismatic flower in the Slovenian's folklore legend of the Goldhorn. Common alpine species of rocky habitats above the treeline.|
|Paederota bonarota - the blue counterpart of the much commoner Paederota lutea.|
|Saxifraga crustata with Mali Mangart in the background. This (along with the species below) was perhaps the commonest flower to be found on Mangart. Another Saxifraga species present in good numbers was S. squarrosa, which wasn't blooming yet.|
|Saxifraga paniculata with the top of Mangart in the back.|
|Nigritella rubra (N. miniata).|
|Leontopodium alpinum with Mangart in the back. The quintessential alpine flower.|
|Pinus mugo and the hut on Mangartsko sedlo.|
Of the birds the most interesting were a singing ROCK PTARMIGAN Lagopus muta and a stunning male WALLCREEPER Tichodroma muraria flying with food in its beak (probably to the nest). The commonest species was Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta, accompanied by Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros, Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus (5-10), Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris (3-5), Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (5) Alpine Swift Apus melba (4) and Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus (2). Several Marmots Marmota marmota were also around.
|Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria in flight.|
|Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax|
|Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta|
|The view south-west from Mangartsko sedlo.|
|Two views on the top of Mangart.|
|Loška stena above Loška Koritnica valley.|
|Mali Vrh with Dianthus sternbergii in the front.|
A visit to the Trenta valley produced two handsome Dippers Cinclus cinclus swimming in the emerald river Soča. Redstarts Phoenicurus phoenicurus were very common around villages.
|Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus|
Breginjski Stol was also full of wildlife. We were very happy to see lots of Apollos Parnassius apollo and managed to take some pics as well. On the bird front the most interesting were the many singing Corncrakes Crex crex all over the grassy slopes and a family of Rock Thrushes Monticola saxatilis (with 2-3 juv). Common birds included Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella, Stonechat Saxicola torquatus, Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis, Quail Coturnix coturnix and Rock Bunting Emberiza cia. We also heard a Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes and saw several Chamoises Rupicapra rupicapra, Alpine Newts Triturus alpestris and Yellow-bellied Toads Bombina variegata. Rock Partridges instead proved elusive and silent.
|The beautiful Apollo Parnassius apollo|
|Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis (male)|
|Alpine Chamois Rupicapra rupicapra surrounded by Laserpitium latifolium and L. siler.|
|Atropa belladonna - a very poisonous plant containing alkaloids. It is also a relative of Scopolia carniolica (see end of this post).|
During the university camp last week it was very hot and birding/botanising was concentrated around the place where we were based on Kraški rob (Slovenian Karst). The highlight on the bird front were 3 Ortolan Buntings Emberiza hortulana present at the last remaining breeding site in Slovenia - a population very close to extinction. There was an adult male and at least 2 fledged juveniles.
Other birds of note included a pair of Red-rumped Swallows Cercopis daurica (nesting at one of the only regular sites in Slovenia) and a Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus watched catching and swallowing a snake (Hierophis viridiflavus) - see last pic. In the evenings we were having Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus singing all around our village.
|Gentiana lutea subsp. symphyandra on the vast dry grasslands of Lipnik and Golič (Čičarija, SW Slovenia).|
|Digitalis laevigata - the botanical highlight of the camp.|
|Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus in the process of swallowing a snake.|