Saturday 25 July 2015

Queen of the Alps

This week I spent again two days in the Julian Alps, enjoying the alpine flora, which now is at its very best. The main target (and actually this summer's main target) was Eryngium alpinum, which I found after some effort on mount Porezen (1630 m). This is a mountain which like Črna prst holds an interesting flora and rare species of plants. Eryngium alpinum or "queen of the Alps" is one of them. In Slovenia is now quite rare and grows only on a few mountains in the Julian and Kamnik Alps.
Eryngium alpinum - this species was almost extirpated on some mountains, due to collecting for decorative uses. In Slovenia it was officially protected in 1922, but now it's still considered rare and localised. However, where it grows, it can be really numerous (see last pic) - I saw at least a hundred plants on a single patch of slope. Fortunately it usually grows on steep slopes and quite inaccessible places.
Cirsium eriophorum
The south grassy slopes of Porezen.
Porezen's top.
Dianthus monspessulanus - very common on the mountain's top.
Bupleurum petraeum
Gentiana pannonica and the hut on Porezen - the mountain is the locus classicus of this species.
Evening view from Porezen to Črna prst and mount Triglav in the far back.

Next day I was on the Komna plateau above the lake of Bohinj for a nice hike. On the bird front the most interesting were several Bonelli's Warblers Phylloscopus bonelli in the beech woodland above the Savica waterfall and some Lesser Redpolls Carduelis flammea ssp. cabaret in the larches on the Komna plateau. It was quite a long time from my last redpolls! We are not really used to see them frequently in Slovenia, especially during the breeding season. A calling Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes was also of note and commoner birds included Crossbill Loxia curvirostra, Grey-headed Picus canus and Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius, Willow Tit Poecile montanus, Siskin Carduelis spinus, Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula and Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
Rosalia alpina - a charismatic beetle of the Cerambycidae family, living predominantly in beech forests in the Alpine region.
Aconitum angustifolium - an endemic species of the Julian Alps, found predominantly in the area of Bohinj. Here it was also firstly found and described.
Aconitum degenii (A. paniculatum) is a much commoner species that the previous. The main difference is in the shape of the leaves (larger and wider in A. degenii).
Clear difference between the larger Astrantia major (right) and the smaller Astrantia carniolica (left). The latter is quite common in montane beech forest, whereas the first is a bit scarcer.
Potentilla caulescens - typical dweller of rocky crevices.
Senecio abrotanifolius
Campanula cespitosa
Epipactis atrorubens - fairly common in the forest, along with E. helleborine.
Rubus saxatilis
Helianthemum nummularium ssp. grandiflorum.
View from the Komna plateau to the lake of Bohinj and Komarča's steep slopes on the left.
Spodnja Komna
Chamaerion (Epilobium) angustifolium with Koča pod Bogatinom (hut) on Lepa Komna.

Monday 20 July 2015

Črna prst - Julian Alps

Črna prst (1844 m) is a mountain in Spodnje Bohinjske gore, a mountain chain south of Bohinj in the Julian Alps of Slovenia. The name in Slovenian means "black soil" and the meaning becomes clear by looking at the photo above - the higher part of the mountain consists of very dark rock formations. Črna prst is a summer botanical paradise and a well known historical location of botanical rarities. Several species of European importance (Natura 2000) are found here.
Yesterday I walked on it with the intent of seeing some interesting plants, but with no precise target species. Apart from the plants showed below, interesting was the encounter with a small Adder Vipera berus (see pics). On the bird front there were the usual mountain species like Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus, Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta, Raven Corvus corax ect. But honestly, I didn't pay much attention to the birds. As far as I know there should be Ptarmigan Lagopus muta up there and the habitat looks good for Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis as well.
Geranium argenteum - a rare species in Slovenia, found on Črna prst, Breginjski Stol and the wider area of mount Krn. The name is referred to the silvery colour of the leaves.
Gentiana pannonica - widespread species in the Slovenian Alps. Found and named by I.A. Scopoli in 1772 on Porezen (a mountain top not very far from Črna prst).
Potentilla clusiana - typical of sub-alpine and alpine rocky habitats (above 1700 metres).
Cushions of P. clusiana with mt. Triglav (Slovenia's highest top) in the distance.
Campanula zoysii - quite common in rocky crevices in the higher part of the mountain.
C. zoysii and Triglav in the distance.
Leontopodium alpinum
Pedicularis elongata subsp. julica - collected, named and described on this mountain by E. Mayer.
Scorzonera rosea - looks pale pink in reality.
Heracleum austriacum subsp. siifolium
Saxifraga hostii
Astrantia bavarica
Astrantia carniolica
Saxifraga squarrosa
Lonicera caerulea
Epipactis helleborine
Adder Viper berus - it was almost invisible on the dark soil of Črna prst.
Views of the sub-alpine habitat around the top of Črna prst. In the last pic a view north to the Triglav massif and the lake of Bohinj in the valley.